Sample Visa Post Title

So you’re going to visit the United States to see the sights and have fun? Excellent. But take care of your visa before you book the flight and reserve your hotel room. The best way to ensure a hassle-free trip is to build in enough time to have your visa ready when you’ll need it.

Although embassies and consulates may differ in the order of these steps, you’ll need to do them all:

Complete the online nonimmigrant visa application

You’ll need to upload a photo of yourself. Have a professional visa photo service snap the pic if you can. Make sure it fits the photo requirements.

Complete Form DS-160 and print the confirmation page to bring to your interview.

Schedule an interview

Contact a U.S. Embassy or Consulate in your country to schedule an interview. Its website will have specifics, including its office hours. Make sure to learn the wait times for the embassy or consulate where you will interview.

Sarah Geronimo applying for U.S. visa (AP Images)
Filipino celebrity Sarah Geronimo applies for a U.S. visa at the consulate in Manila. (AP Images)

Pay the visa application fee

Some embassies and consulates require you to pay the fee before interviewing. When your visa is approved, you may also need to pay a visa issuance fee. Make sure you know which fees apply.

Have the documentation you need

Make sure you have this documentation:

  • A passport valid for travel in the United States for at least six months beyond the period of your planned stay.
  • The Form DS-160 confirmation page you printed out after completing the online application.
  • The application-fee payment receipt, if you are required to pay before your interview.
  • Photo — If your photo upload failed when you completed the online application, you will need to bring a printed photo in the format explained here.
  • Any additional documentation your embassy or consulate requires. This may include a statement of the purpose of your trip and of your intent to depart the United States at the end of your trip. You may also be asked to provide evidence of your ability to pay for the trip. Your embassy or consulate’s website should list the additional documentation you’ll need.
Man reading and waiting (Thinkstock)

Attend your interview

Check your embassy or consulate’s website for any specific instructions on arrival for your interview. Make sure you are on time and holding all the necessary documentation.

During your visa interview, a consular officer will determine whether you are qualified to receive a visa, and, if so, which visa category is appropriate based on the purpose of your travel.

Ink-free, digital fingerprint scans will be taken as part of your application process. They are usually taken during your interview, but this varies by location.

Receive your visa

If the visa is approved, the embassy or consulate will explain how your passport with visa will be returned to you. Review the visa processing times to learn how soon your passport with visa will be ready for pickup or delivery by courier.