If you’re applying for a US visa – the final step of your application process will be a personal interview at a US embassy or consulate in your home country. On one hand, this interview will go very quickly – around ten minutes is the maximum time you should expect. On the other hand, it will decide your fate on approval or denial of the US visa, and so, it’s important to have done your “homework” beforehand.

The thought of being interviewed by a US government official can be overwhelming, but keep in mind that the interview’s purpose is simply to determine whether or not you meet the US visa requirements. Knowing what to expect throughout the process can set you up for success.

Here are some of the most important things to know about the visa interview itself:

  • It will likely be short. You may have spent many, many hours preparing your case and spent months waiting for this interview. But the interview itself may last for as less as 5 minutes. Occasionally visa interviews may last for half an hour, and you may be taken to a separate room for additional questioning. However, in most cases, the interview will seem like it’s over very quickly.
  • This is about you not your paperwork. The purpose of the interview is for the officer to interview you, not to read your paperwork. Do not spend your time trying to tell the officer about what is already in the file. Do not spend your time trying to give the officer hundreds of more documents. The officer wants to have an opportunity to talk to you and will make a judgment largely based on that conversation.
  • This is a conversation, not a test. Many visa applicants try to guess what questions they will be asked. Some try to prepare their answers ahead of time. This is not a good idea. Every consular officer wants the same thing: they want to have a natural conversation with the applicant. This becomes impossible if the applicant has already decided what he/she is going to tell the officer. If you have rehearsed or prepared a speech, it only reduces your credibility. It makes the person look like he/she is trying to ‘fake it’ with the officer.
  • There are usually no tricky questions. The questions asked at the visa interview are usually not tricky. The officer will generally ask about why you are applying for a US visa. They may ask about your prior trips to the US. They may also ask about your background. But none of this is tricky – the questions asked are normally about things you are expected to answer naturally and truthfully.
  • Stop. Listen. Breath. Answer: You may be nervous at the time of the interview. When the officer asks a question, listen carefully to exactly what he/she is asking. If you don’t understand, ask the officer to clarify. Give a short, clear answer to the question, avoid story-telling at all costs.
  • Never express anger. No matter what happens at the visa interview, remain respectful to the consular officer. You are never, ever going to win an argument with the officer by getting aggressive. State your answers to questions clearly and respectfully. If you disagree about a statement made by the officer, you may express this, but do so with extreme patience and respect. The Consular officers have a tremendous amount of authority.

Also Read: Tips to prepare for your US Visa Interview

What happens after your interview?

At the conclusion of the visa interview, you will be informed on-the-spot whether your application is successful or not. If successful, they will take your passport so that the US visa can be processed and stamped on the passport. Time for processing depends on the consulate but ranges from a few days to a week. You can choose to have it couriered back to you or be collected personally.

If your visa application is unsuccessful, the officer may tell you that your US visa has been denied and return your passport immediately.

Are you ready? Do you have a question about the US visa application process? Please don’t hesitate to ask us! Not sure how to go about? We walk you through the US visa application process and offer tips on ensuring it gets approved. Done with your visa interview? Share your experience with us in the comments below!

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