Most individuals, for good reason, are anxious before their visa interview. The visa interview has personal and consequently unpredictable factors involved in whether your visa application gets accepted or rejected. Many times a person may already have an approved visa petition but can still be denied the visa during the interview at a US Embassy or Consulate. The consular officer will then send the petition back to U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services for revocation. Consular officers respond positively when applicants are honest, stay for the authorized duration and come back promptly after that. The officer needs to make sure that an individual will conform to the parameters of the visa sought and will not overstay the validity of the visa. Visa applicants do not have a ‘right’ to a US visa and, therefore, cannot enter the country for any reason. The US government’s position is that the approval of a visa is a privilege granted only to a few individuals. Many individuals do not know the basic immigration rules and standards and thus are unaware of the penalties attributed to breaking such rules. For example, if you are granted a 10 year B1/B2 multiple entry visa, it does not mean that you can stay in the USA for 10 years. A 10 year multiple entry visa means you can go to the US anytime within next 10 years. For each visit, your actual stay will be determined by the date shown in Form I-94, Departure Record at the port of entry. It is usually 6 months.
How can I prepare for the visa interview?
- First impressions are always important. You should wear formal clothes and be well groomed;
- Plan to arrive early to avoid missing your interview because of a traffic jam etc.;
- Convey confidence and mask nervousness. You will be more confident if you have prepared for the interview. Do not show sign of nervousness like flickering eyes and trembling of fingers. It is important to maintain eye contact with the officer and to keep an up-right posture;
- Greet the consular officer at the inception of the interview;
- Keep your answers short, clear and to the point and express them in a clear voice. Do not digress and tell the officer anything that is irrelevant and/or not asked. This is because you might inadvertently give some unnecessary information that may lead to a denial;
- Remember to be polite and avoid being argumentative Demonstrate respect even if you do not feel t is being reciprocated;
- If you do not understand a question you should inform the officer and ask him/her to repeat or rephrase the question;
- It is always advisable to communicate with the officer in English since meanings can often be lost in translation;
- Consular officers are trained to read body language and interpret responses. Generally, they are able to decipher an applicant’s true intentions;
Consular officers tend to ask many ‘what if’ questions. For example:
- What if someone offers you a high paying job in the US?
- What if you fall in love in love with a US Citizen?
The officer may ask these questions to gauge the applicant’s response. You should not answer a question without giving it some thought. This is because if the officer suspects that your intention may be to stay in the US and/or work your visa will be denied;
- You must be honest while preparing the on-line visa application and during your interview. Any misrepresentation or fraud may be used against you and prevent you from obtaining a visa for several years or subject you to a permanent bar. A permanent bar will proscribe you from ever obtaining a visa.
The Consular officer didn’t even look at my documents!
At our law firm, Immigration Solutions LLC, [we often hear prospective clients complaining how the consular officer did not even want to see the supporting documents. The interviewing officers due to their extensive training are able to assess an applicant’s true intentions just by looking at him/her and reviewing the documents. In fact, in many cases the officer has made up his/her mind before conducting the interview. This is because the officer might have personal knowledge of property values, income and income tax ratios, local University’s ranking, local University’s evaluation system, upper and lower-case neighborhood and many other variables.