United States of America (USA) is the number one in the list of countries that attracts a wide range of people from around the world who have various goals and want to achieve their “the American dream”. However, there are many barriers and one of them is getting a visa.
Except for countries that are under Visa Waiver Program (VWP) who the U.S. federal government has allowed their nationals to travel to the United States for tourism, business, or while in transit for up to 90 days without having to obtain a visa, however, any other person who loves to travel to the US must need a visa irrespective of your reasons for wanting to enter into the US, be it visits for tourism or business, working, studying, or permanently moving there.
In this article, we shall be showing you the easy steps on how to apply for US visa to finally achieve your “American dream”. To apply for a US visa you will follow a straightforward application procedure and steps.
What are the Steps to Apply for a US Visa?
You should apply for a US visa at a US Consulate or Embassy in your country of residence following these simple steps:
- Check if you need a visa.
- Choose the type of US visa you will apply for.
- Fill in the Non-immigrant visa Application Form DS-160.
- Pay your application fee.
- Schedule visa interview.
- Compile the document file.
- Attend the visa interview.
- Wait for processing.
1. Check if You Need a Visa
Citizens of 39 visa waiver countries do not need to apply for a non-immigrant visa to visit the United States. So before you start your US visa application process, first check if your country is among the visa waiver countries.
There are currently 39 countries participating in the Visa Waiver Program, Visa Waiver Program Countries are:
- Andorra (1991)
- Australia (1996)
- Austria (1991)
- Belgium (1991)
- Brunei (1993)
- Chile (2014)
- Czech Republic (2008)
- Denmark (1991)
- Estonia (2008)
- Finland (1991)
- France (1989)
- Germany (1989)
- Greece (2010)
- Hungary (2008)
- Iceland (1991)
- Ireland (1995)
- Italy (1989)
- Japan (1988)
- Korea, Republic of (2008)
- Latvia (2008)
- Liechtenstein (1991)
- Lithuania (2008)
- Luxembourg (1991)
- Malta (2008)
- Monaco (1991)
- Netherlands (1989)
- New Zealand (1991)
- Norway (1991)
- Poland (2019)
- Portugal (1999)
- San Marino (1991)
- Singapore (1999)
- Slovakia (2008)
- Slovenia (1997)
- Spain (1991)
- Sweden (1989)
- Switzerland (1989)
- Taiwan (2012)
- United Kingdom** (1988)
NOTE: The citizens of the new countries of Curacao, Bonaire, St Eustatius, Saba and St Maarten (the former Netherlands Antilles) are not eligible to travel to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program if they are applying for admission with passports from these countries.
2. Choose the Type of US Visa
The second step of the US visa application is to choose the type of US visa that you want to get. Since there are differences depending on the type of US visa you want to get, you should pay extra attention to choosing the right type of visa to apply for.
3. Fill in the Non-immigrant visa Application Form DS-160
Form DS-160, Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application is the US visa application form that you must fill out if you are applying for a US nonimmigrant visa. The form can be found online on the website of the US consulate from which you are applying.
You can fill the DS-160 form online through:
- By yourself through the Consular Electronic Application Center, or
- With the assistance of a third-party company, that we recommend, such as TravelAssist.
How to Fill in the Form DS-160?
The application form DS-160 consists of two parts. In the first part, you must answer questions about personal information as:
- Full name
- Marital Status
- Date & Place of Birth
- Mobile number
- Passport number
- Passport book number
- Family information
- Work, etc.
The second part of the online application form consists of questions on security and background information as:
- If you have ever been arrested or convicted for an offense or crime.
- If you have ever engaged in a conspiracy to violate, any law relating to controlled substances.
- If you have ever been involved in money laundering.
- If you ever ordered, incited, committed, assisted, or otherwise participated in genocide, etc.
4. Pay Your US Visa Application Fee
The next step on how to apply for US visa is paying the US visa application fees.
The Machine Readable Visa Fee for visa applicants depends on the type of visa one applies for. The schedule is tiered as follows:
How Much is US Visa Fee Cost
- MRV Fee – $160
- Petition Based Applicants (H, L, O, P, Q, R) – $190
- E-1, E-2 & E-3 visa applicants – $205
It is important you keep in mind during your American visa application process that the visa fee is non-refundable if you decide to cancel your appointment or if your visa application is rejected.
In addition to US visa application fees, you could also be asked to pay US visa issuance fees. Visa issuance fees are determined by the relationship that the US has with your home country. This means that some applicants will have to pay them and some will not. Their amount varies from country to country.
To be able to proceed with your application, you must pay all the necessary fees and retain the receipts for proof.
5. Schedule a US visa Interview
All US nonimmigrant visa applicants between 14 and 79 years old are required to go through a US visa interview. To have this mandatory interview, you must schedule an appointment with the US consulate or embassy from which you are applying. Since they might have a high workload and the wait time can range from days to weeks, you must make sure to schedule your interview as early as possible.
The moment that you submit your Form DS-160, you should make an appointment for your interview. You will then get an interview confirmation letter which you must bring on the day of the interview.
6. Compile the Required Document for a US Visa
In addition to your application form or Form DS-160, you must also submit documents required for your US visa application that prove to the US consulate that you meet the requirement for the nonimmigrant visa you are applying.
7. Attend the visa interview
The final step in the US visa application process is the US visa interview. You must appear on time at the interview with all your supporting documents. The official who will interview you will ask questions about your background and other relevant details based on the visa you have applied for. If you are going to the US to work, then the interview might be longer than if you were going only for a visit.
8. Wait for Your Visa Processing
After the visa interview, you must wait for your application to be processed. Processing times depend on the type of US visa you applied for, but they can range from a few days to a few months.
When your visa is processed, you will find out whether you were approved or denied. You should only make travel arrangements after your visa is approved and not run the risk of making expenses in case it is denied.
Do Visitors to the United States Have to Purchase Health Insurance?
Visitors to the United States are not obliged to purchase travel health insurance. However, due to the high costs of the healthcare system in the United States, you are strongly recommended to have some health insurance coverage purchased before visiting.
The treatment of a broken leg or broken arm will cost you $2,500, while staying at a US hospital for one night may cost over $10,000, on average.
How to Apply for US Visa From Different Countries
Applicants from the UK
If you are a citizen of the United Kingdom, you can travel to the US without a visa. However, this does not hold for all UK residents. To apply for a visa for USA from UK, there are some specific procedures that you must take.
US Visa Applicants from Canada
Although Canadians do not need a visa nor an ESTA to travel to the US, Canadian residents who are not citizens of one of the 38 Visa Waiver Countries, should apply for a US visa from Canada to visit the US.
American Visa Applicants from Australia
Australian residents who are not citizens of a country that participates in the Visa Waiver Program should apply for a visa for USA from Australia.
How can I apply for US visa from UAE?
UAE is not part of the Visa Waiver Program, therefore, its citizens need to apply for a US visa. To learn how to apply for a US visa from UAE visit the following try to search for:
- How to apply for a US Visa in Dubai?
- How to apply for US Visa in Abu Dhabi?
Applicants from Qatar
As Qatar is not part of the Visa Waiver Program, Qatari citizens, as well as residents, might have to apply for a US visa. To learn how to apply for a US visa from Qatar, visit this article.
Applicants from the Philippines
To be able to travel to the US, Philipines citizens and residents need to obtain a US visa. Learn the details of the US visa application in the Philippines in this article.
Applicants from India
India is not part of the Visa Waiver Program therefore Indian citizens need to get a visa for the USA. Read here about the process of applying for a US visa in India.