Nonimmigrant Consular Interview Tips
1. Why Am I Being Interviewed?
Even if your visa petition has been approved by USCIS, you are not guaranteed a visa. An officer at the U.S. consulate will decide whether to issue the visa itself. At the interview, the consular officer will ask questions and review documents to make sure that you are eligible for the type of visa you are seeking. The officer will review your visa application forms and your documents, including the petition we submitted to USCIS. The officer will ask questions to make sure that your stay in the U.S. will be consistent with the type of visa for which you are applying and with the petition we filed with USCIS (that you will work as described, that you are qualified to perform the work, that you will not overstay your visa, etc.) The officer will also make sure you do not have any problems that would bar you from receiving a visa.
Some things that can make a person ineligible for a visa include:
- Past criminal arrests or convictions
- Past immigration violations (for example, having an old deportation order, or entering the United States illegally more than one time, overstaying a prior visa or violating the terms of a prior visa)
- Admitted use/abuse of drugs, controlled substances or abuse of alcohol
- Serious health problems, including HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis
- Failure to show that you will return to your country at the end of your stay (this does not apply to H or L visa holders and is only weakly applied to E, R and O visa holders. It is strongly applied to B, F and P visa holders.)
If we represent you, a member of the law office of Battan Alpert Hutchings LLP will prepare you in advance so you will be able to explain these issues. Sometimes, people with the above problems should not apply for a visa at all, especially if they are leaving the United States in order to do so. To discuss your pending consular interview with our Colorado immigration lawyer and legal staff, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
2. Who Should Attend The Interview?
At most consulates, only the person who is applying for a visa is allowed to enter the consulate. However, each consulate has different rules, so you should check the latest information on the Web site of the consulate where your interview will take place.
3. The Interview
Before applying, read the consulate website about how to apply for your visa. Follow all required steps. Talk to an attorney if you have any questions.
Visa interviews can be an unpleasant and even intimidating experience. You may have to wait in line for several hours to be called for an interview that lasts only several minutes. At most consulates, you will be standing up during the interview, in a large room in front of other visa applicants. The consular officer will be sitting behind a window made of heavy bullet-proof glass. There is no privacy during the interview. Remember that everyone else applying for visas is dealing with the same thing.
Be honest. You must answer all questions truthfully. If the consular officer believes you are lying or making a misrepresentation, you could become permanently ineligible for a visa. You must remember that the consular official has access to a wide variety of documents and information about you, and if you are not truthful, they can use that information to prove you are lying.
4. After The Interview
If everything goes well, the consular official should be able to make a decision about your visa the same day, although you may be asked to wait for some time (up to several hours or some days) for a final decision. At some consular posts and for some types of cases, your passport will be returned to you right away if your visa is approved. At other consular posts and for other types of cases, the post will take your passport and return it to you (via courier) several days later with the visa in it.
If your interview does not go well and the consular officer tells you your visa will be denied, or that the consulate needs more information from you, do not panic. Make sure the officer gives you a written explanation (a “refusal letter”) about the additional information that is required or why your case is being denied. Take a few minutes and write down everything you can remember about the interview. Then, contact our office right away to let us know about the problem. (If you already know that you need a waiver, you should expect your case to be denied at the first interview. You will submit your waiver application at your waiver interview.)
When your visa is returned to you, please check it to make sure that all the data is correct. Check to make sure that the expiration date is correct and that the visa was issued in the correct classification. If there are errors, we may be able to help you. Please contact us immediately, before you leave your home country – the consulate has to correct the visa before you enter the U.S.
Visa processing can be difficult and confusing. If you would like the assistance of an experienced immigration lawyer, please contact us or call our office at 866-614-8668 to schedule a consultation today.
This website is for general guidance only. This website does not explain everything about immigration law, which is a vast and ever-changing area of law. Furthermore, each individual’s situation differs. Thus, all individuals should consult with an immigration lawyer prior to filing any petition or application.