How to Ace Nonimmigrant Visa Interviews

Published on    30 June 2014     Hits: 547

When it comes to US visa interview, there are many stories that are more dramatic than fictions.  Depending on the applicant’s nationality, the location of the US consulate, or political climate of the time, US visa interviews may appear short and breezy or may end up taking a year to clear up some unknown ‘security’ issues. 

Because of horrible experiences from US visa interviews, some people tell us they avoid overseas travel at all cost until they become permanent residents and possess green card in hand.

While US visa interviews should not be anything to fear about, it is a good idea to prepare for it thoroughly so that visa delay won’t intervene with your travel schedule.  In this blog, I am summarizing frequently asked questions.  As for document list, one should always check the most up-to-date list from the applicable Consulate website.

1. Any lengthy prior stay in the US?  What was the purpose?
Consuls are interested in finding out if you’ve always kept your promises.  That is if you entered the US with B-1 visa, you conducted business, and if you entered the US with F-1 visa, you were a full-time student.  If you have made frequent and lengthy stays in the US, then you need to prepare detailed recollection of your prior visits.

2. Have you ever been subject to a secondary inspection at the airport or refused admission? 
It’s important to remember the circumstances, line of questions and answers, and if any document was issued.  If visa was canceled or admission was refused, then you need to explain the misunderstanding or situation that caused it and also justify you are now admissible.

3. Any extension or change of status in the US?  Provide copies of USCIS receipts/decisions.
Contrary to common perception, applying for extension or change of status in the US does not necessarily have negative impact on future visa issuance.  It is, however, important to have all the USCIS issued receipts, approvals, or even denial notices to establish that there was no unreasonable status gap during the stay.

4.  How did you find the job or business opportunity? 
This question may be asked to inquire if the job offer is real and the visa applicant will take this job offer once he or she arrives in the US with visa.

5. What are the job duties you will perform?
This question is particularly important and is almost always asked.  The consul is interested if the visa applicant is serious about the job offer and also if the job duties are professional (H-1B), specialized or essential (L-1B, E-1, E-2), or managerial (L-1A, E-1, E-2)

6. What is the sponsor company’s business and how many employees are in the US?
The applicant needs to show some knowledge of the sponsor company.  Otherwise, it becomes suspicious if the applicant will in fact take this job offer.

7. What is your qualification to fulfill this position?
Related documents must have been already submitted to the Immigration or Consulate and the Consulate should have the information.  However, it would be prudent to bring original academic credentials, employment verifications, etc. to the interview for comparison.  The applicant should also be able to explain in words what makes him or her a suitable candidate for the job.

8. English skill?
If the applicant is using an interpreter during the interview and the Consul asks about the need for English fluency, the applicant needs to explain why the position does not require fluent English – for example, the company has many employees who speak the language the applicant speaks or the job is technical and doesn’t require much communication, etc.

9. Immigrant/nonimmigrant intent?  Any immigrant petition has been filed?  What kind of country ties can you show?
Generally speaking, having applied for green card does not disqualify one for visa issuance, and so it’s important to be honest and accurate about it.  Especially with H or L visas that are dual-intent, it doesn’t matter even if the green card case has been progressed and I-485 application is pending.  However, with E visas that are not dual-intent, the situation is a little unique and the visa applicant must discuss this matter with his/her attorney. 

10. Family Situation:  Has any of the children attended school in B2?  Has anyone been out of status?
Having a family member (sister, brother, parents, or adult children) out of status in the US is not necessarily a problem for the visa applicant.  It’s still helpful to know family members’ statuses and their situations.  However, it must be noted that having minor children attend public school without proper status in the US or letting minor children become out of status are violations that are imputed to the parents.  Appropriate precaution should be taken before a problem occurs.

11. Any criminal record?
If any, a certified copy of the final disposition must be obtained and submitted.

12. Past visa refusal?
The record already exists.  It’s important to state the fact truthfully in order to avoid fraud or misrepresentation charge.

Mario Guevara-Martinez