Every day across the world consular officers (employees of the US Department of State) interview throngs of visa seekers trying to procure the documentation that will allow them to travel to the United States. In just a few short minutes – a US visa interview is supposed to last only around three minutes – the consular officer makes a judgment about whether the US visa applicant is qualified to get the visa that will allow them to go to the US. The law firm Heartland Immigration polled a former consular officer who has performed thousands of US visa interviews in several countries to see what it is consular officers look for in making a decision on a visa application, and to get advice on what a visa seeker can do at their visa interview to enhance their chances of success. The consular officer offered candid advice; we found the officer's comments on the little things an applicant for a US tourist visa can do at their visa interview particularly interesting, and wanted to share them with the Heartland Immigration blog readers. These tips apply to all applicants for a US visa, but should be particularly helpful for persons applying for a US tourist visa (also referred to commonly as a visitor visa), as this is the context in which visa denials are most common. No matter where you are located, a Dallas immigration lawyer with the law firm Heartland Immigration can tell you more about the visitor visa application process and assist you in your endeavor to get a US tourist visa. Call us today for a free immigration consultation: 1-855-USA-IMMIGRATE
5 Ways to Help Your Odds of Landing a US Visa
The following represents advice for a US tourist visa interview that is of course secondary to the basics, such as making sure you fill out your visa application properly and being truthful in the application and at the US visa interview, but is especially useful for the light it sheds on what is going through a consular officer's mind as they adjudicate a visitor visa application. A key lesson to be learned from this is that the little things matter at a US tourist visa interview – in a close case, where the consular officer is having a tough time deciding whether to issue the applicant the tourist visa for the US they are after, just being on the officer's good side can prove determinative. It was interesting to hear from the consular officer just how much the consular officer's mood can affect their decisions. Like everyone else, the adjudicator of a US tourist visa application is not immune to emotion, something that can sometimes overpower objectivity. While consular officers try to apply the facts of a case to applicable US immigration law and regulations in as fair of a way as possible, there is no denying that subjective factors can play a role in the outcome of an application for a US tourist visa.
At their visitor visa interview at a US embassy or consulate, a US visa applicant should:
- Get to the point.Consular officers are busy folks; at some of the larger US embassies and consulates (such as those in Mexico, India and China, for example) interviewing consular officers work extremely hard and under intense pressure to meet minimum quotas for interviews per day. They have little interest in small talk or in hearing applicants for a visitor visa discuss something that has little or no bearing on the US visa application. They want to know why you want to go to the United States and to be assured that you have somewhat concrete plans for your trip, and more importantly still that the applicant for the visitor visa has the kind of ties to their home country that will compel them to return to their country after their visit to the US. Most denials of tourist visa applications occur because the consular officer believes the visitor visa applicant might overstay their tourist visa in the US or that they might work illegally while in the United States. Seekers of a visitor visa should therefore cut to the chase in the visa interview and let the consular officer know what it is that is going to make them come back to their country if the consular officer issues them a visitor visa. A steady job, property ownership and family ties (such as being married and having kids, especially where they are not traveling with the applicant to the US) are a few of the things that can help you in your US tourist visa interview. The consular officer will likely ask you questions that go to this issue – it is your job not to stray and talk about irrelevant matters.
- Bring supporting documentation.Consular officers most places in the world want to see documentation to back up your claims of ties to your country. Are you a student? Bring a letter from your university to prove it, as well as a transcript showing progress toward a degree (good grades can help!). Have a good job? A letter from your employer can be useful. You get the point – what you say at your US visitor visa interview should be backed up, to the extent possible, by documentation. Some consular officers value documentation more than others, but it can never hurt to supply it.
- Dress up – at least a little.A US visa lawyer is often asked by applicants for a tourist visa what they should wear to their visa interview. The consular officer with whom Heartland Immigration spoke advised that visitor visa applicants dress smartly. If you are a white-collar worker who does not ever wear a suit you do not need to buy one for your US visa interview – just wear something that looks decent and respectable, such as a button-up shirt and slacks (or a skirt or dress) or nice jeans. It is undeniable that people make snap-judgments about others based purely on appearance, including regarding matters of credibility; a seeker of a visitor visa can only help their cause by looking sharp.
- Get to the interview window in a timely manner.Applicants for a tourist visa should pay attention to the names being called out by the consular officers or to the number being requested to come to the visa interview window, and make an effort to get there quickly when it is their turn. Taking a long time will only perturb the consular officer, getting your visitor visa interview started on the wrong foot.
- Smile.Be pleasant at your tourist visa interview. This can go a long way in creating a good impression and making the consular officer like you. Consular officers deal with a lot of unpleasant people on a daily basis – being particularly happy and positive will make you more likeable, which cannot hurt your chances of a positive visitor visa application outcome.
The visa lawyers at the law firm Heartland Immigration serve clients all over the US and across the world. For an immigration lawyer free consultation please contact us; we will be happy to assist you in your US immigration law matter: 1-855-USA-IMMIGRATE