Q 1.

Is a sponsor's letter a must for obtaining a tourist visa?


The US Immigration law does not spell out the documents that need to be furnished for getting visas. Nevertheless, the burden is on the applicant to show that he is not an intending immigrant and that while in the US, he will not become a public charge. In other words, that he has funds (dollars) in the USA, to take care of his boarding and lodging. Unless the applicant has any other means to establish this, it is important to have a sponsorship document from the USA (see details in Chapter IV).

Q 2. Is a sponsorship letter a guarantee to visitor visa for the USA?

No. A sponsorship letter from the applicant's sponsor in America alone is not necessarily a deciding factor for eligibility of the visa. The US Consul will review other parameters, such as passport eligibility, local ties and other characteristics which establish the bonafides of the applicant and convince the Consul that the applicant is not an intending immigrant.

Q 3.

Can the sponsor send documents directly to the visa section?


Sponsors may send supporting documentation directly to the applicant, who can share it with the visa section during the interview. Having a sponsor or offer to guarantee a person's return to their home country does not guarantee issue of visa. US immigration law makes no provisions for offers of guarantee or the like. The burden of proof is on the applicant. Do not send any documents to US consulate directly as they may not be attended to and may be discarded.

Q 4.

Should I carry original documents or photocopies for my interview?


You should carry all required documents in original and photocopies of all US government forms.

Q 5.

Do I have to be fingerprinted?


All visa applicants, except those traveling on official government business or who are under age 14 or over age 79, will be required to submit two electronic fingerprint impressions. At the time of the visa interview, applicants will be asked to electronically scan the index (second) finger of each hand. Applicants who are required to be fingerprinted, and who have a cut or blister or other temporary skin injury on their index fingers may not be issued a visa until their finger heals before they can be fingerprinted. The scanned fingerprint data collected at the time of interview will be compared with fingerprint scans at the US port of entry to prevent the misuse of visas by imposters and by those wanted for more serious offences. Please remember, however, that all visa applicants, regardless of their age or visa category, will require an interview. There is a proposal by which all ten fingers will be fingerprinted in future.

Q 6.

I currently have a valid US visa. Do I need to be electronically fingerprinted at the visa section before I travel to the US?


No. You will be electronically fingerprinted at a Port of Entry on arrival in the US. You will be fingerprinted in India only when you visit the US Consulate when you may apply for another NIV or get a fresh visa after current one expires.

Q 7.

If an applicant goes to UAE for a visit, can he apply for a US visa from there, if he decides to visit USA from there?


One can always approach the US Consulate closest to the applicant while touring abroad. Normally, visas are granted by the US Consulate closest to the permanent residence of the applicant. Nevertheless, in such cases, the applicant must avoid the impression that he is applying in UAE specifically to avoid filing from India. If the Consul is convinced, he can get a visa, but generally, such visas may be possible only for business development. For tour purposes, the applicant may be asked to go back to his home-based US Consulate.

Q 8. During the validity period of visa, (say one month is left for the expiry of the visa), is it necessary that one must travel and enter the US and also return before this visa expires?

The visa may be used upto its expiry date to apply for entry to the US. The length of stay in the USA will be determined by the US Immigration Inspector at the port of entry.

Q 9.

If an applicant is rejected once, is it possible to know the reason; so that, fresh evidence can be procured in the second attempt?


In most non-immigrant categories, the burden of proof of proving that the applicant is not an intending immigrant is on the applicant, and not the US Consul. If the US visa officer is not convinced about an applicant, it is up to the applicant to find ways and proofs to confirm his bonafides in the second attempt. No one will, and no one is obligated to tell the reason of rejection, except that in the eyes of the interviewing officer, the applicant appears to be an intending immigrant.

Q 10.

If an NIV is rejected, how many times can one apply again? Does a rejection affect any future application in another category?


If an NIV is refused on the first attempt, then the applicant can apply for the second time at the minimum interval of 3 working days. However, these days there are long wait time for personal interview. This means over two months may pass until second attempt becomes reality. One can apply any number of times after successive rejections but each time visa fees have to be paid and new evidence shown to correct previous doubts of the Visa Officer.

A change to another non-immigrant category is generally not successful. It might show that the applicant is desperate for alternatives. A change from a non-immigrant to an immigrant category is possible in eligible cases.

Q 11.

What if the Officer keeps my case on hold under Section 221(g)?


If your visa was not issued under Section 221(g) of the US immigration and Nationality Act, it means that your application was incomplete or required further administrative action. The Consul will return you your passport. You may return to the Consulate on any working day with the required additional documents. Follow the instructions that were given to you at the time your case was put on hold. The application fee paid to schedule the initial interview remains valid for the subsequent interview up to one year from date of payment of the application fee to HDFC Bank.

Q 12. What address do I mention on form DS-156, if my current home address and my address on the passport is not the same?

You must mention your current home address of India and not the address noted in your passport. It is in order for the current home address to differ from the address noted in your passport.

Q 13. I am planning to stopover in the US on route to my final destination (e.g. Canada, Latin America, or Caribbean) should I apply for a Tourist (B1/B2) or Transit (C1) visa?

If you intend to visit the US for any length of time, you should obtain a B1/B2 visa, which grants you permission to appear at a Port of Entry for the purpose of entering to visit the US. If your visit to the US is strictly incidental to your travel to a third country, you may apply for a Transit (C1) visa.

Q 14. If one's UK visa application is refused, will it affect the eligibility to get US visa?

Legally one cannot be denied a US visa just because one was denied a visa by some other country. However, the US Consul may scrutinise carefully as to why the applicant was refused elsewhere. If he is convinced that the ground of rejection at the other consulate had nothing to do with the assumption that the alien is an intending immigrant, then the applicant has a chance to get US visa, with other criteria being satisfactory.

Q 15. Can an applicant demand a "multiple entry" visa with 10 year validity while applying for an NIV?

One can request a "multiple entry" and not demand. Whether one qualifies to get a visa for 10 years is the decision of the US Consul. Generally a visa valid for 10 years is granted for multiple entries.

Q 16. After getting the visa, which is the latest date by which the applicant should fly to the US?

The applicant should reach the USA by the deadline of the validity of NIV stamped in the Passport.

Q 17. What is the minimum income expected from an applicant for an NIV? If he is under a taxable limit from Indian income tax laws, can he apply? What are his chances?

US Immigration laws have nothing to do with Indian Income-tax laws and, therefore, the question is invalid. Nonetheless, in order to establish the economic ties of the applicant, data should show about the applicant's income. The US Consul will review the case based on objectives of the visit, how genuine is the application and the sincerity of the purpose, besides income. This will determine his chances.

Q 18. Can one get a business visa by giving any kind of bond or guarantee to the US Consulate?

Generally, no. A bond or a guarantee is only accepted in rare cases. If at all a bond is required, the US Consul will convey this to the applicant. The applicant cannot offer a bond or a guarantee.

Q 19. An applicant has traveled every year to the US on business since 1990, along with his daughter. She then became a doctor and was rejected twice although she was given visas earlier. Why is this so?

For the same applicant, the situation may vary at different times of life. Just as every visa case is different, in the same way, every applicant at different times shows different conditions with regard to job, marital status, family, finances etc. In this case, having become a doctor, the daughter has greater marketability in the US job market and has suddenly become a "high-risk" applicant from the point of view of the US Consul and hence the rejection.

Q 20. Is it possible for the US Consul to cancel a visa given earlier? Is this allowed under law?

Such a situation does not arise frequently. Cases have, however, come to light when an applicant has gone for an interview for a student visa while holding a valid visitors visa. If he is found, in the judgment of the US Consul, to be ineligible for a student visa, then not only is he denied the visa for studies but also his valid visitors visa may be cancelled on the presumption that the applicant may travel any way under this visa and try to get adjusted to student status having reached the USA. Also, an earlier issued visa may be cancelled if it was obtained by fraud or misrepresentation. There is nothing in the laws to prevent such cancellation