Frequently Asked Questions Before Your Visa Interview
You’ve filed your application for an immigrant visa, and you are now awaiting your interview at the U.S. consulate or embassy. Below are some answers to common questions.
Remember that you won’t receive an interview date until you have sent the National Visa Center everything it needs. And if you’re not sure where you are in the process of getting an immigrant visa, read more here.
What is the purpose of the visa interview?
The visa interview has two purposes.
First, the officer needs to verify the information you were you required to send to the National Visa Center, earlier in the process. Specifically, the officer needs to check the names, dates, and other facts you wrote in your application for an immigrant visa. He or she also needs to check that the evidence you submitted is real and sufficient to give you a visa.
Second, the officer needs to investigate if anything bars you from getting a visa. For example, do you have any negative immigration or criminal history? If so, expect to get questions about your past.
Once the consular officer finishes the interview, he or she will tell you if your visa is approved, whether it is denied, or whether additional information is needed to make a decision in your case.
If your visa is approved, congratulations! Find out more here about what happens after your visa interview.
What does the embassy or consulate do?
The embassy or consulate will review your criminal and immigration history, your immigrant visa application, and all of the other documents you sent them to decide whether you can come to the U.S. to live as a lawful permanent resident (green card holder).
The consulate also makes decisions on applications for temporary, or nonimmigrant, visas.
How do I schedule my immigrant visa interview?
You do not need to schedule your interview at the embassy or consulate. It should happen automatically after your have completed processing at the National Visa Center.
To receive your interview date, you have to complete the following stages:
- National Visa Center (NVC) creates your case
- You pay the immigrant visa fee ($325) and affidavit of support fee ($120)
- You complete the immigrant visa application (using Form DS-260), a sample of which can be found here
- You send the NVC all of the necessary documents
Once you finish NVC processing, then the NVC will send you notice that your case has been scheduled for an interview. If you’re not sure where you are in the process, you’ll need to check the status of your case at the NVC.
What do I need to do before the immigrant visa interview?
There’s a Government Website where all immigrant visa applicants need to register. Go to this website, and click on the continent where your country is located. For example, if you are from China click on “Asia” or if you are from “Brazil” click on “South America.”
On the next screen, you’ll find your country listed Click on your country. This will take you to a screen where you can register an account. You must have a valid email address to do so.
For more information, visit our article on registering online before your visa interview.
Get your fingerprints taken
To get an immigrant visa (and ultimately, a green card) you will have to get your fingerprints taken. The consulate will use your fingerprints to check your immigration and criminal history.
But where will you have your fingerprints taken? This depends on the country where you are processing your case. In some countries, you’ll do your fingerprints at the U.S. consulate the day of the interview. In others, like Mexico, you’ll go somewhere else prior to your immigrant visa interview.
To find out, carefully read the instructions accompanying your interview notice.
Get a medical exam
Anyone who wants a green card in the United States has to submit a Form I-693. This is a medical report which is filled out by a designated doctor who examines you.
You must do your exam before your immigrant visa interview at the consulate. To get it set up, you will have to contact a designated doctor’s office and make an appointment.
How will I know when my visa interview is scheduled?
There are two ways you can get your interview notice.
First, you may receive your interview notice in the mail. It will provide you the interview date and time, but also instructions on what to bring, where to register, and where to get your fingerprints.
Second, if you registered to receive notices by email, then the National Visa Center (NVC) will email you the time, date and relevant instructions.
How do I pass my visa interview?
There are a few key things to keep in mind in order to “pass” your immigrant visa interview.
First, you should be honest. This is critical. Telling a lie to a consular officer can result in an automatic denial of your visa application. (Making a false statement to receive an immigration benefit is a bar to getting a green card.)
Second, in reality you cannot actually pass or fail an interview. The officer is simply making sure that he or she has all of the necessary documents and information to make a decision. That decision is based on the law, which is something that you have no control over.
The best you can do is to make sure you have provided immigration officials with complete and accurate information, and that you have brought all the supporting documents requested.
If there are legal issues with your case, you may be denied an immigrant visa. If you are concerned about problems with your immigration or criminal history, or anything else, you should consult with an experienced immigration attorney.
Who else can attend the interview at the U.S. consulate?
Typically, only the person who is scheduled for the interview may enter the embassy or consulate for security reasons. If the person who is scheduled for an interview is a minor child under the age of 18, then the officers typically let a parent or guardian go in with the child. Please note: if you are the parent or guardian of a child applicant, then be sure to bring an identification card and the child’s birth certificate, in order to prove your relationship.
How long until I get my immigrant visa interview?
That depends. After you have submitted all of the required documents, applications and information to the National Visa Center (NVC) then you will be scheduled for an interview. The NVC is a central office in the U.S. that schedules all of the green card (lawful permanent resident) appointments at consulates around the world. After the NVC receives everything it needs, then it will schedule the person at his or her country’s U.S. consulate based on availability. The busier the consulate, the longer the wait. But on average, you can expect to wait 2-8 months.
What will they ask me at my visa interview?
The most common questions will be about the answers you gave on your immigrant visa application (Form DS-260), and questions about information found in any other documents that you sent to the immigration. Those documents may include your marriage certificate, birth certificate or divorce decrees. For people who have been arrested in the U.S. or in other countries by police officers or immigration officials, you will likely get questions about what happened.
For example, if at some point you entered the United States illegally, or on a visa, you can expect to get question about how you entered, how long you stayed, and what you did while present in the U.S.
In simpler cases, you may get easy questions about who are you going to live with when you arrive to the U.S.
When you are applying for an immigrant visa based on a marriage to a U.S. citizen or resident, the consular officer may also ask you questions to determine if your marriage is real. So be prepared to discuss your relationship with your spouse.
What do I bring to the consulate for my visa interview?
You should take the following to your interview:
- You Appointment Letter – the letter sent to you by mail or email with the date, time and place of your appointment
- The DS260 Confirmation Page – When you submitted your application, DS260, you would have been redirected to a confirmation page. You need to take a copy of that page. If you did not download a copy then you can login to the government’s website and print a copy from there.
- All Original Documents: Earlier in the visa process you had to upload copies of all required documents, such as birth and marriage certificates, to the government website. You must then bring to the interview the original of every document you uploaded.