U.S. officials take homeland security very seriously, and even more so since President Trump took office. Also, all non-US applicants must ensure that they meet the necessary requirements for a US visa. However, the application procedure and the documents to be collected are different depending on the visa category. But then, what are the steps and concretely, how to obtain a visa for the United States?
Determining the type of visa for the USA
First of all, to determine how to get a visa for the USA, you must determine the type of visa required, because there are many!
Apart from the U.S. Visa Waiver Program, which is not available to everyone, there are two categories of visas: the non-immigrant visa for temporary stays and, in contrast, the immigrant visa for people who want to reside permanently in the United States. In any case, applying for a USA visa is essential to travel to the country, regardless of the purpose of your stay.
Persons wishing to travel to the U.S. for a temporary stay have a non-immigrant status. They can apply for a B visa for visitors, a C visa for transit, an F, M or J visa for students… the list is long! There is bound to be a visa that matches the reason for your stay in the United States.
People wishing to live permanently in the United States must apply for an immigrant visa. However, unlike the non-immigrant visa, the applicant cannot initiate the process himself. The United States, despite its tradition as a welcoming land, does not open its doors to just anyone. Anyone wishing to settle in the United States permanently must apply for a permanent resident visa which requires sponsorship or selection in the diversity visa lottery (also known as the green card lottery). Temporary visa or permanent resident visa, in all cases, part of the process is done online.
Online process to obtain a visa for the United States
As mentioned earlier, the process of obtaining a B2 tourist visa for the USA varies according to the category of the visa. Unlike the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) where the application is completely paperless, only part of the process is done online, on the US Embassy website.
In general, you will need to fill out a form (DS-160 form for non-immigrants) and then gather the necessary documents (biometric or electronic passport, documents proving your situation…), create your online account and then proceed with the payment of the application fee. The price of the USA visa differs according to the nature of the authorization requested.
Finally, after validating your application, you will receive a message telling you how to proceed for your interview with a consular officer. Please note that the waiting time for an appointment at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate to obtain a U.S. visa varies from one institution to another. It is therefore strongly advised to apply for your visa as soon as possible.
The interview itself is relatively quick – about ten minutes – allowing your interviewer to determine whether or not you are eligible to set foot on American soil.
How long does it take to get a US visa?
After your interview, the consular officer will inform you of his decision. If you are granted a visa, the U.S. government official will hold your passport and affix your U.S. visa. You will not immediately go home with your passport, but will receive it by mail within 3 to 5 working days.
Finally, if you have any questions about how to obtain a visa for the United States, do not hesitate to contact the American embassy or consulate nearest you.