Even the simplest tasks tend to be chaotic around the holidays, and a trip to the U.S. Consulate for a visa interview is no exception. With no school for children and a desire to be with extended family during the holidays, thousands of foreign nationals will exit the United States in mid-December. For many of those foreign nationals, traveling outside the United States will necessitate a trip to the U.S. Consulate in order to renew their visa. The following tips may help ease the stress of a holiday visa interview at the U.S. Consulate.
Schedule Your Interview Early
Because the holidays are some of the busiest times of the year for Consular posts, interview slots fill up fast. Visa applicants should set an appointment as early as possible to avoid delays. Third-country nationals (foreign nationals applying for a visa at a U.S. Consulate that is not located in their home country) may experience additional delays because preference may be given to citizens of the country in which the Consulate is located. The visa application can be completed entirely online and interviews can be scheduled months in advance, which should aid in avoiding travel difficulties.
Preparing for Your Interview
Almost every non-immigrant visa applicant should expect questions confirming their intent to return to their home country following their stay in the United States. Employment-based non-immigrant visas are likely to face additional questions about their employment and visa eligibility. For example, L-1A Intracompany Transferee visa applicants may be questioned on whether their prior employment with the company qualifies them for an L-1A visa. H-1B visa applicants might be asked questions about the duties they perform to confirm their position qualifies as a specialty occupation. Employment-based non-immigrant visa applicants should review their initial visa petitions, understand the duties of their position, and be prepared to explain their qualifications.
There has always been some level of a background check associated with visa issuance, but the current administration has implemented additional security measures. While not necessary for every visa applicant, some may be required to complete the “Supplemental Questions for Visa Applicants” questionnaire that requests biographical and employment information for the last fifteen (15) years. While time consuming, it is important applicants complete any additional questionnaires truthfully and in a manner consistent with their prior immigration history. Applicants could also be subject to “Administrative Processing” which is akin to an extensive FBI background check that can delay visa issuance for months.
Dependent (Family Member) Interviews
Many employment-based non-immigrant visas have associated dependent visas that allow family members to travel to the United States and live with the principal visa holder. Family members are also subject to interviews to obtain a visa. Family members should be familiar with the parameters of the visa for which they are applying. For example, an H-4 spouse cannot obtain employment in the United States unless otherwise eligible because working in H-4 status is generally a status violation.
For questions on visa interviews at U.S. Consulates or other immigration matters, please contact Melissa Azallion and Jonathan Eggert on McNair’s immigration team at (843) 785-2171.