U.S. Visa Interviews, Explained
Learn more about U.S. visa interviews and how they work for different visa types
An important step in many U.S. immigration journeys is attending an “immigration interview,” or “visa interview.” Many immigrant and nonimmigrant visa categories require that an applicant attend the interview before they can receive a visa approval. Each U.S. visa interview may look a bit different, depending on the applicant’s specific situation, but there are some interview basics that every prospective applicant should be aware of.
In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about visa interviews, including logistics and what kinds of questions to expect for your visa type.
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Where do Visa Interviews Happen?
Where your U.S. visa interview takes place depends on which country you’re applying from.
For those applying for visas, green cards, or U.S. citizenship within the U.S., the interview will typically take place at a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) field office. USCIS has field offices across the country, and your USCIS interview will generally be scheduled at the field office closest to you.
For those applying from outside the U.S., the interview appointment will be conducted at the U.S. Embassy or consulate in your home country, or wherever your application is being processed. Similar to the USCIS interview, the embassy interview or consular interview generally will take place at an embassy or consulate closest to you, depending on the type of visa you’re applying for, appointment availability, and whether the U.S. government has a diplomatic presence in the country you’re applying from.
When do Visa Interviews Happen During the Application Process?
In general, interviews typically occur as one of the last steps in the process, after your application is filed and processed by USCIS (if applying within the U.S.), or the U.S. Department of State’s National Visa Center (if applying from abroad).
If applying for a visa, green card, or U.S. citizenship within the U.S., you will receive an interview notice directly from USCIS. The notice will provide the date and location of your visa appointment, information about visiting the USCIS field office, and how to prepare for your interview.
If applying for immigrant or nonimmigrant visas from outside the U.S., the embassy interview or consular interview will also take place at a later stage in the process, once your application has been received by your local embassy or consulate. You will receive detailed instructions directly from the embassy or consulate on how to schedule your visa appointment.
Who Conducts Visa Interviews?
USCIS interviews are conducted by USCIS officers, while embassy or consular interviews are conducted by consular officers. The main difference between these two government officials is that USCIS officers are allowed to use their own discretion when issuing a visa approval or denial, while consular officers must follow strict procedures and guidelines under U.S. immigration law when deciding on a case.
Types of Visa Interviews
Marriage Green Card Interview
The marriage green card interview is one of the last steps in the marriage green card process, and one where the interviewing officer will assess the authenticity of the marriage. You can find more detailed information about the process, including which spouse attends the interview, common questions to expect, and more in Boundless’ marriage green card interview guide.
Student/Exchange Visa Interview
If you’re applying for an F-1 visa to attend a U.S. school program, or a J-1 visa for an exchange program, you will also need to attend a visa interview at the U.S. Embassy or consulate where your application is being processed. The consular officer will ask you questions about your intended studies or program in the U.S. before issuing an approval or denial. Boundless put together a guide on the F-1 student visa interview, as well as the J-1 exchange visa interview, so you can prepare with confidence.
Travel Visa Interview
The B-1/B-2 travel visa process also includes a visa appointment at a U.S. Embassy or consulate, where the consular officer will verify information in the application and confirm that the applicant will use the visa for temporary tourism in the U.S. Check out Boundless’ guide on how to prepare for your travel visa interview here.
U.S. Citizenship Interview
The U.S. citizenship interview is the last step in the process of becoming a U.S. citizen. The interview is conducted by a USCIS officer who assesses the applicant’s eligibility, knowledge of U.S. civics, and English proficiency. The interview is crucial to the naturalization process to ensure that citizenship applicants meet all of the requirements. For more information, visit Boundless’ citizenship interview guide.