US Visa for Indians - Definitive Guide

Metropolitan cities, countrysides, snow-capped mountains, sandy beaches, the United States of America has it all. Being one of the largest countries in the world, the US has a wide variety of weather, ethnicity, food, culture, and so on. With numerous tourist attractions and ever-expanding opportunities, the US attracts a large number of people every year. Apart from this, the United States has top educational institutions in the world, excellent job opportunities, a high standard of living, it is a much sought after destination for people looking to settle. However, nationals from most countries require a US Visa to enter the country.   

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What is a US Visa?

People travelling from countries that are not eligible for visa-free travel to the United States under the VWP ( Visa Waiver Program) require a permit to enter the USA. The visa comes in the form of a stamp in your passport. The validity, however, depends on the officer issuing the permit. Based on your profile, this can vary from 6 months to a maximum of 10 years. They are of two types - Immigration, and Non-Immigration Visa. Since the latter involves permanent residency visas and most US Visa application from India involve temporary stay, through this guide, the Non-Immigrant Visa (NIV) will be discussed.

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How to apply for US Visa?

Getting a visa for the USA is a long process. However, the procedure is pretty straightforward. Before starting your application, you will have to determine the type of visa you require. After this, proceed as per the following - 

  1. Obtain the documents you require to complete the application.
  2. You will need to fill the NIV US Visa application online: DS-160 form
  3. You should then proceed to pay your US visa fees online.
  4. Once this is done, submit your application. You will receive a fee receipt, and DS-160 confirmation via your email.
  5. Using the DS-160 application barcode, and the visa fee receipt number, proceed to schedule your US Visa appointment. This involves two appointments. First one at a VAC (Visa Application Center) for the biometric submission, and the next at a US Embassy or Consulate-General for the visa interview. 
  6. Visit the VAC for your biometric first, along with the passport, appointment, and D-160 confirmation pages. 
  7. After the submission at VAC, you will then have to visit a US Embassy or Consulate for your interview, along with your supporting documents, appointment confirmation letter, and VAC stamped D-160 confirmation page. 

Please note that the visa interview and biometric is mandatory only if the person is older than 14 and less than 80. Also, if your US permit expired in the last 12 months, and if you are visiting the country under the same type of permit, you may not need to attend the interview.

It is extremely crucial to fill in the DS-160 form accurately, as you will not be able to change it later. Any incorrect, or fake information on the form will lead to your visa being denied or delayed. A visa rejection is taken strictly by the US Government. 

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US Visa types

Based on the purpose and eligibility of visit, there are a number of Non-Immigrant visas issued to enter the USA. The most common US Visa types applied from India are as follows -  

  • Tourist Visa: B2 - This type is issued when an individual is visiting the country for purposes such as on holidays, visiting friends or family, etc.
  • Business Visa: B1 - The business permit is issued to travellers who visit the country for business meetings, conferences, and other business-related activities.
  • Student Visa: F1 - This is issued only for students entering the country for the purpose of education.
  • Work Visa: H1-B - This is issued to individuals who enter the country to perform in highly skilled work.
  • Dependent Visa: H4, F2, L2, etc - The dependents such as a spouse, children of individuals possessing other US Visa are issued the Dependent permit.    
  • Trainee Visa: H3 - This type is issued for people attending non-employment training programs in the USA. 
  • Media and Journalists Visa: I - Issued for information media personnel travelling for work purposes.
  • Artists,/Entertainers/Athletes Visa: P - This is issued for the athletes, artists, or entertainers travelling as a part of work or project.
  • Extraordinary Ability Visa: O1 - Issued for people possessing extraordinary abilities in the field of science, sports, arts, business, etc.
  • Exchange visitor: J1 - This is for individuals visiting the US as a part of an exchange program.
  • Intracompany transferees: L1 - This is for employees that are sent to the branch/subsidiary/parent company in the US as a part of the transfer.
  • Transit: C1 - This is issued for individuals travelling through the US as a part of a transit journey.
  • Crew: D - This is for members travelling as a crew of aircraft or ship.
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Documents required for US Visa

The documents for the application of the visa application submission vary based on the type. Each type has documents pertaining to it. However, the basic US Visa document requirements are as follows- 

  • A passport valid for at least 6 months from the date of intended travel
  • 2  photos
  • DS-160 application confirmation page
  • Visa fees payment receipt
  • Proof of purpose of visit
  • Proof of employment/study
  • Proof of financial means
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US Visa Photo Requirements

  • Dimensions:  50mm X 50mm
  • Colour: Coloured
  • Recently taken
  • Background: plain white
  • Must have 70% face coverage
  • Facial expression: neutral
  • Eyes directed towards the camera and wide open 
  • Glasses: allowed for medical reasons only
  • Uniforms are not permitted
  • Headgears: allowed only for religious reasons
  • Facial hair is permitted.
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US Visa fees

The fees for the application of the visa depends on various factors such as the US Visa types, the urgency, etc., and other additional charges. 

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US Visa processing time

The time to process your visa varies normally between 7-10 working days after submission. However, this may vary depending on the embassy workload, type of visa, urgency, and so on. Apart from this, since the American permit is much sought after, the visa interview appointments are hard to schedule and have high waiting time. It is therefore highly suggested to apply well in advance.

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Where to apply?

The applications for the visa have to be made online. However, for the appointments, you will have to visit a VAC, and an Embassy or Consulate in that order. For the biometric submission, you can go to any VACs situated across the country. After that, for your visa interview, you can make an appointment and visit at the US Embassy New Delhi address, or at any US Consulate-General at Chennai, Hyderabad, Kolkata, or Mumbai. 

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How to check US Visa status online?

To track your application, you can visit the online portal and check the US Visa status using your interview location, and DS-160 barcode number. Alternately, you can also mail to ‘passportstatus@ustraveldocs.com’ with your passport number. Normally, you will be notified when your passport is ready for pick up. You can then pick them up, or get it delivered to your address, depending on your selected mode.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Can I extend my US Visa?

Yes, you may be able to extend the US permit depending upon the category. In order to do so, you must make an application to the USCIS (the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) before your current visa expires. However, the success of your application will depend upon a variety of factors such as the intention, immigration status, and so on. Also, you will have to submit all the documents that you have submitted for the original visa. If you cannot extend, you must leave the country before expiry. 

What is the medical test for US Visa?

The medical test requirements depend on the type of permit you are applying for. For short term permits such as the tourist permit, business visa, etc, you do not require a medical test. However, for long term categories, you may need medical tests. In either case, it is always better to get a medical test done before travelling to a new country.

How much bank balance required for US visa?

There is no specific numerical value to how much funds are required. As per the requirements, you are expected to possess enough funds to cover your day-to-day expenses. This includes accommodation, food, travel, and so on. While showing the bank statements, it is necessary to show that the transactions are steady and that there are not major spikes in the amount of money being credited or debited.

 

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