A Comprehensive Guide to Applying for a US Tourist Visa on Your Own

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In this day and age, thanks to technological advancements, there is a growing popularity in applying for a US tourist visa without the need for an agency. Applying for a US tourist visa independently offers numerous benefits, including increased proactivity throughout the procedure, reduced costs, and the opportunity to gain valuable experience for future trips. This article will provide you with a comprehensive overview of the US tourist visa application process, including procedures and helpful tips.

General information about US tourist Visa

Regardless of their intention, anyone visiting the US is required to apply for a visa. There are two main types of visas: non-immigrant visas for temporary visits and immigrant visas for permanent residency.

Non-immigrant visas are coded as B-1/B-2 visas. The B-1/B-2 visa serves as a travel pass for individuals who need to temporarily visit the US for business or tourism purposes.

When applying for a US tourist visa, the following purposes are commonly accepted:

  1. Business visa (B-1): meeting business partners, attending scientific/ educational/ training/ economic conferences or seminars, addressing real estate issues and signing contracts.
  2. Tourist visa (B-2): traveling, visiting family and friends, seeking medical treatment, attending social events, participating in contests, and enrolling in non-degree courses.
  3. B-1/B-2 visas: encompass both the purposes mentioned above.

A US tourist visa is typically valid for a period of 12 months and does not impose any limitations on the number of entries allowed during that time. However, it’s important to note that the length of stay for each entry will be specified on the visa. It is crucial to adhere to the designated duration and avoid overstaying without valid reasons.

Practical US Tourist Visa Interview Tips - Thao & Co.

Documents to prepare before applying for a US tourist visa

Once you have identified the appropriate visa for your trip, the next crucial step is to gather and prepare the required documents.

For individuals who choose not to apply through an agency, this step can indeed present certain challenges. Below, you will find a comprehensive explanation of everything you need to prepare, based on the regulations provided on the official website of the US Department of State.

Required documents

  1. ● 01 recent 5×5 passport-sized photograph taken on a white background within the last six months
  2. ● A passport with a minimum validity of six months
  3. ● Confirmation letter of the Non-immigrant Visa Application Form (DS-160) submission
  4. ● Receipt confirming the payment of the visa application fee
  5. ● Appointment letter for the visa interview

Other necessary documents

Documents substantiating the purpose of your trip:

  1. ● Invitation letter for conferences/seminars/courses
  2. ● Hotel booking confirmation
  3. ● Detailed travel itinerary
  4. ● Doctor’s diagnosis and reasons for seeking medical treatment in the US
  5. ● Prognosis or appointment with a doctor in the US
  6. ● Green card or valid visa of the visited relative(s)
  7. ● Proof of travel history to other countries, such as Korea visa, Japan visa, photographs, etc.
  8. ● Etc.

Documents demonstrating your intention to depart from the US after your visit:

  1. ● Round-trip ticket
  2. ● Documents demonstrating ownership of valuable assets in your country, such as land, houses, cars, etc.
  3. ● Documents proving stable income in your country, such as labor contracts, salary pay slips for the most recent three months, business registration documents, etc.
  4. ● Documents demonstrating your obligations in your country, such as a marriage certificate, wills, household registration books, business establishment photos, tax payment confirmations, insurance payment confirmations, etc.
  5. ● Etc.

Documents demonstrating your financial ability to cover the expenses of the trip:

  1. ● Bank statements from the most recent three months
  2. ● Original passbooks
  3. ● Confirmation of your savings account balance
  4. ● Information about the person assisting in financing your trip
  5. ● Etc.

Evidence demonstrating stable employment or family obligations in your country plays a crucial role in obtaining approval for your US tourist visa application. Therefore, it is not recommended to rely on sponsorship papers from friends or family in the US in this particular case.

To ensure that the consular officer can accurately read and understand your documents, it is advisable to prepare English translations for all non-English documents. Attach these translations to the originals when attending the visa interview. A comprehensive and well-prepared dossier will enhance your credibility and increase your chances of a successful outcome.

How to apply for a US tourist visa on your own

Applying for a US tourist visa is often less complicated than what many people believe. You can easily apply on your own by following the steps outlined below.

1. Submit the DS-160 form online

  1. ● Access the following website and complete the DS-160 form by providing the requested information: https://ceac.state.gov/genniv/
  2. ● Upload the correct picture that meets the specified requirements.
  3. ● After completing the application, remember to print the confirmation of your visa application.
DS-160 Form of US Visa - Thao & Co.

2. Make the payment for your visa application fee

  • ● After completing the DS-160 form, visit this website and locate your country in the list of countries: https://www.ustraveldocs.com/
  • ● Select Create Account, enter all the required information, and click on the Submit button.
  • ● Select Schedule Appointment and provide the necessary information such as the visa class, place of issue, visa category, and intended use.
  • ● Click on Payment Options and print the receipt.
  • ● Visit a your country’s post office to pay the application fee and obtain the receipt as proof of payment.

3. Schedule an appointment for the visa interview

You can schedule an interview appointment starting from 11 a.m. on the next working day after the application fee has been paid.

  1. ● Log in to the account that you created in step 2.
  2. ● Select New Application/Schedule Appointment and follow all the necessary steps to schedule an interview appointment. Provide your passport number, receipt number, and the barcode number received after completing the DS-160 form.
Schedule Visa appointment
Choose the appropriate date for your Visa interview

4. Attend the interview

  1. ● Please ensure that you bring all the prepared documents to the US Consulate or Embassy 15 to 20 minutes prior to your scheduled interview.
  2. ● Follow the instructed procedures, which include leaving all electronic devices at the security checkpoint, submitting your files, and having your biometrics taken.
  3. ● Interview with the US consular officer.
  4. ● Once your application is approved, proceed to the EMS booth to provide them with the delivery address for your passport and visa.

Find the address of the US Consulate or Embassy in your country: https://www.usembassy.gov/

Tips to help you get through the US tourist visa interview without a hitch

The interview represents one of the most challenging obstacles you must overcome in order to obtain your visa. Despite their seemingly perfect appearance, many applications for US tourist visas still get denied. This is often because these individuals fail to convincingly present their cases to the consular officer during the interview.

Here are some easy-to-follow tips that can help increase your chances of success during the interview:

Ensure that you provide honest answers during the interview.

Due to anxiety and fear, people often tend to exaggerate, downplay, or even avoid answering the consular officer’s questions. This inadvertently gives the impression that you are tense and nervous. Consular officers possess extensive experience in conducting interviews, allowing them to easily detect such signs and potentially perceive your application as unreliable.

During group interviews, if one person provides a dishonest answer, it can create inconsistencies among the group’s responses, increasing the likelihood of visa denials for all individuals involved. The best approach is to answer honestly, as it not only maintains consistency but also helps to present yourself with confidence.

Portray yourself as someone who has diligently prepared all aspects of your application.

The documents you submit during your interview are crucial in determining whether your application will be approved or not. The consular officer will use these documents as a basis to evaluate your credibility and ask questions during the interview.

While most consular officers can understand and communicate in your country’s language, reading documents may pose a challenge for them. As a gesture of respect and goodwill, it is advisable to provide certified translation of documents that are not in English. Presenting a professionally translated dossier will leave a positive impression on the interviewer and ensure accurate communication of information.

Let Thao & Co. help you acquire professional translations for your documents!

Thao & Co. provides high-quality translations carried out by our team of skilled native linguists, catering to all your requirements.

  1. ● Delivery within 48 hours for standard documents
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Understand the differences in communication styles across different cultures

The communication styles between Eastern and Western cultures often exhibit numerous differences and occasional contradictions. These disparities can lead to misunderstandings and miscommunication during your interview with the consular officer. For example, in Western cultures, direct eye contact during a conversation is often perceived as a sign of sincerity. However, in many Eastern cultures, this behavior is often considered impolite or disrespectful.

To address this issue, it would be beneficial to familiarize yourself with the communication style of Western cultures and apply it during the interview. Thao & Co. offers several strategies to make a positive impression on the interviewer:

  1. ● Maintain appropriate eye contact when speaking
  2. ● Avoid beating around the bush. Get straight to the point when answering questions
  3. ● Avoid providing overly brief answers. Instead, elaborate on your responses and provide additional information to sound more credible.
  4. ● Maintain a steady posture and avoid frequent changes in body position during the interview.
  5. ● Speak in a sufficiently loud and clear tone

Wear appropriate attire

As you approach the interview booth, the consular officer will make some initial assessments based on your clothing choice and demeanor. Opting for neat, clean, and formal attire will be your best option. Ensure that your clothing does not display any offensive patterns or inappropriate language.

One helpful tip is to try on your chosen attire the day before the interview to ensure that it does not cause any discomfort. As the administrative procedure can take several hours, you should opt for comfortable clothing to make the waiting time more manageable.

Should I apply for a US tourist visa on my own?

These days, people have been embracing a more self-reliant approach, choosing to handle various tasks such as travel arrangements, scholarship applications, and even US tourist visa applications independently. Despite challenges such as lack of experience and the time-consuming nature of the process, the idea of applying for a US tourist visa independently has gained popularity due to the following reasons:

  1. ● Being more proactive during the application process
  2. ● Cost-effectiveness compared to applying through an agency
  3. ● Understanding every requirement set by the US Consulate, which allows you to avoid unnecessary steps.
  4. ● Having a thorough understanding of the documents you have submitted, which makes you sound more convincing during the interview
  5. ● Mitigating the risk of losing money to an untrustworthy agency
  6. ● Increasing the credibility and authenticity of your application
  7. ● Accumulating experience for future visa applications

Applying through a third party can potentially subject your dossier to increased scrutiny, although this is not widely known. The consular officer may question the authenticity of the information in your dossier if they discover that your documents were submitted through an intermediary agency.

The information provided above should be kept in mind when applying for a US tourist visa independently. It is based on actual experiences and official sources from the United States Department of State.  We hope that these insights will prove beneficial and increase your chances of successfully getting your US tourist visa approved!

Source: Thao & Company
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