Obtaining a Visitor Visa for U.S. from India
Planning a trip to the United States can be very exciting, although the visitor visa process can be daunting. There are a few things that are slightly different when obtaining a visitor visa for U.S. from India, so be sure to read through this process carefully to make sure you follow the directions correctly.
1. Choose consulate and take photograph.
Before you start the process of obtaining a visitor visa for U.S. from India, there are a few things to do in preparation. The first thing to do is to determine which consulate or embassy you will use. There are five United States Embassies in India, located in New Delhi, Chennai, Hyderabad, Kolkata, and Mumbai. Choose whichever one is closest to you, and start your research on that website.
Another important item to have ready is a photograph to submit with your DS-160 form. This photograph must be taken within six months of your application. It needs to be square (2”x2”) and meet the following specifications:
- Dimensions: minimum of 600 by 600 pixels and a maximum or 1200 by 1200 pixels
- Must be in color: 24 bits per pixel
- Must be in JPEG format
- File size must be less than or equal to 240 kilobytes
More information can be found at the Offsite Facility Center website.
2. Pay fees.
There are a few fees associated with applying for a visitor visa. The U.S. Department of State has created a new visa processing system for India that is supposed to simplify fee payments. Now you can pay the fees via Electronic Fund Transfer (EFT) or with a mobile phone. You can also pay in cash at more than 1,800 Axis bank branches.
The fees are non-refundable, non-transferable, and they must be paid whether the visa is issued or not. The amounts will be listed in U.S. dollars, but the fees need to be paid with local currency. It is very important that you keep the receipt for the fees that you pay because this allows you to make your appointments.
3. Complete the DS-160 Form.
This form has to be filled out and submitted electronically while you are in India. Make sure that you have uninterrupted access to a computer for 30-60 minutes to complete this process. If you stop working on the application for more than 20 minutes, the session will expire and you will need to start over. There is an Application ID number at the top right-hand corner of the page. If you do need to close the browser, write down this number or save your application to your computer.
The interview post you select at the beginning of the process must be the same post where you schedule your interview appointment. All questions must be answered in English except when you give your full name in your native alphabet. This is also where you will use the photograph that you took in preparation. After you finish filling out the DS-160, the form will generate an alpha-numeric barcode confirmation page. Print this page, and put it in a safe place. Once you do this, hit “back” on your web browser and email yourself a backup copy. It will email to you as a PDF, which you can then save on your computer.
4. Make appointments.
You may need to make at least two appointments when obtaining a visitor visa for the U.S. from India. In India, you now have to either use www.ustraveldocs.com/in or telephone the call center to make these appointments. The appointments include the Offsite Facilitation Center (OFC) appointment and the visa interview appointment. The OFC appointment needs to be at least one day before the visa interview appointment.
In order to schedule your appointments, you must have your passport number, date of fee payment, and ten-digit (10) barcode number from the DS-160 confirmation page.
5. Go to your OSC appointment.
This is where you submit your fingerprints and your photo. The OFCs are not at the Embassies, but they are located in the same cities. The addresses and hours can be found on the OFC website. These appointments must be done at least one day before the interview appointment.
6. Go to your visa interview.
The U.S. Consulates in India do not allow friends, relatives, attorneys, or business contacts to attend nonimmigrant visa interviews with the applicant. All the documentation that you bring has to be in English, and you should also be prepared to speak in English. Be ready to answer questions about your intended visit and to bring all necessary documents. The required documents are:
- Valid passport and previously issued passports
- DS-160 barcode page (the one you printed off previously)
- Appointment letter
- H, L, and other petition-based visa applicants may bring copies of the I-797, I-129 and other petition related documents
- Dependants should bring the principal applicant’s passport or passport copy
- F, M students should bring the SEVIS receipt and I-20
- J exchange visitors should bring the SEVIS receipt and DS-2019
While these are helpful tips for each section of the process, be sure to do your own independent research, and make sure you are prepared for the process. Good luck, and have a great trip!