This is the 16th installment of the Heartland Immigration e-book How to Get a Visa for the United States." The section below is a continuation of the section of the book titled "The Consular Officer - Demystified." It is useful for informing US visa seekers about the individuals who will be interviewing them at the US embassy or consulate. The US visa interview can be an uphill battle, depending on the particular circumstances of a given case. For assistance preparing for a US visa interivew, contact an immigration lawyer with the law firm Heartland Immigration today: 1-855-USA-IMMIGRATE
A Frustrating Routine
Also, applicants should be aware that doing visa interviews can just plain stink sometimes. Even FSOs who are in the consular career path can get fed up with doing one hundred and something interviews a day (which is not all uncommon at larger embassies or consulates) and, in many places, having to be the bearer of bad news ("sorry sir, I am denying your application for a visa...") and being lied to over and over again. The point is, you might well find a consular officer to not be in the best mood in the world, so you really should go out of your way to (i) be extra polite and pleasant, and (ii) have your paperwork in order and your story straight so as to move things along expeditiously.
Not Necessarily Legal Scholars or Business Savvy Folks
Finally, you should go into your visa interview aware that consular officers, though they've received specialized training in applying relevant immigration laws and regulations, usually aren't lawyers and don't always know all the intricacies of the more complicated visa matters. They shouldn't have a problem applying the relevant laws and regulations to a standard B-1 tourist visa application, but some other classifications can get really complicated, making it necessary for you to clearly articulate why you're qualified under the law. You've got to show a lot more if you're applying for an H-1B visa or an E visa than if you just want to go visit Aunt Mildred in Wisconsin on a tourist visa, and some consular officers don't see these kinds of applications all that often - it's up to you to clearly articulate how you meet the qualifications for those visas.
You can do this by hiring an immigration attorney to lay out your case for you, or you can try to do it on your own. If you choose the latter, I suggest you write a one-page letter that references the qualifications stated in the Foreign Affairs Manual (this is, as has been mentioned previously, what the consular officer uses as a reference and is indeed their rulebook; it's available to the public here: http://www.state.gov/m/a/dir/regs/fam/c22167.htm) and explaining how you meet each requirement. On a related note, it's important to understand that most consular officers don't have a strong business background. You therefore need to explain things in lay terms that a non-businessperson can understand if you're applying for a work visa.
Now that you know more about who you're dealing with for your visa interview you can tailor your approach accordingly. At the very least, you'll go in to your interview knowing something more about this mystifying endeavor than most applicants do. And when it comes to preparing for your United States visa interview, every little bit helps.