Which US visa interview questions could you be asked?
If you are planning to travel to the USA and are not eligible for visa-free travel, you will need to apply for a nonimmigrant visa.
As part of your visa application, it is likely you will be asked to attend a US visa interview at a US Embassy or Consulate overseas in the country where you are filing your petition, unless you are eligible for the temporary visa interview waiver. If you are in UK, this will be at the US Embassy in London or Belfast.
The purpose of the interview is not only to validate the information you have provided in your visa application, but also to ensure that you satisfy the eligibility criteria under the relevant visa classification.
As such, it will be important to prepare in advance for the US visa interview questions, and to take relevant supporting documentation with you, to maximise your chances of being granted the visa.
What happens at the US visa interview?
A US visa interview will typically be conducted by a single consular official, who will ask you a wide range of questions about all aspects of your application and your proposed stay in the US.
Certain general questions are asked of all applicants, regardless of the type of visa that you are applying for. These include questions about your background and contact details.
In addition, you will also be asked visa-specific questions, relating to the specific requirements or rules of the immigration route you are applying under.
The adjudicator will usually start the conversation with a few simple questions, often based on information contained within your visa application, building up to more detailed and in-depth questions for which you may be asked to produce documentation in support.
Some visas will demand more intensive probing by the adjudicating officer, such as the E-2 visa for investors and the L-1 visa for intracompany transfers. Applicants for these routes should be prepared to answer indepth questions on their application and in relation to their employment and business activity, which is central to the visa conditions.
If you fail to answer the visa interview questions fully and correctly, or you simply fail to attend your US visa interview without reasonable explanation, your visa application will be rejected and any fees already paid will be non-refundable.
Which US visa interview questions could I be asked?
General visa applicant questions
While questions during a US visa interview will vary depending on the visa being applied for, you should always be prepared to answer the following:
- Confirm your name, identity and contact details.
- When do you plan to travel to the US? Why at that time?
- Who will be travelling with you? If so, who? If not, why are you not going with anyone such as a spouse?
- How long will you stay in the US? Why this long?
- What is the purpose of the trip?
- What are your plans while in the US?
- Where you will be staying in the US?
- Have you been to the US before?
- Have you ever been convicted of a crime? If so, what was the crime?
- If you have any relations in the US, please give details.
- Do you have any children? If so, how many? How old are they and where do they live?
- Have you already bought travel tickets? Are these return tickets?
- Do you have medical insurance?
- How much do you expect the trip to cost?
- How are you funding your trip?
- Have you visited the US before?
- Do you have any relatives in the US?
- Have you ever travelled outside your home country before? If so, when?
- Can you show any evidence that you will leave the US and return home?
- What do you do for a living?
- Where do you work and how much do you earn?
- If you are employed, are you taking annual leave?
- If you work for yourself, who will look after your business?
- Do you intend to stay in the US?
- What assets do you have in your home country?
- Will you work while in the US?
You will be required to show some form of itinerary, with an indication of at least your initial plans for accommodation and any further travel. This must include where in the US you will be staying, for example, in the one city, or state, or travelling onwards, taking in multiple destinations.
You will be asked to provide evidence of any hotel or accommodation booking or, alternatively, evidence of any invitation from a friend or relative, together with the address where you intend to stay in the US.
You will also need to provide a complete picture of who is planning to accompany you to the US, for example, a business colleague or friend, or whether you intend to travel alone.
If you plan to travel with a relative, you will be asked to explain the basis of your relationship and whether they are applying as your dependant. Ordinarily, any dependants should accompany the principal visa applicant to the interview.
Additionally, you may be asked about the timing of your visit and your planned length of stay. This will often include why you want to travel to the US at this particular time, whether you plan to extend your trip once there, and if you have any intention of remaining in the US indefinitely.
One of the primary requirements of US nonimmigrant visas is the intention to leave the US ahead of visa expiry. You will need to satisfy the interviewing officer that you intend to leave the US at the end of your permitted stay, for example, by showing that you have strong ties in your home country, such as having dependant children or owning your own home or other assets.
In addition to these general questions during your US visa interview, you will also be expected to answer more detailed questions, specific to the visa category under which you have applied. Below we examine three nonimmigrant visa categories and the types of visa-specific questions you could be asked.
B-1 visa interview questions
The B-1 visa is for those travelling to the US to engage in short-term business related activities. This could include attending a business conference, or other legitimate activities of a commercial or professional nature.
During your US visa interview you will be required to demonstrate that you meet the B-1 visa eligibility criteria, not least that the purpose of your trip is to enter the US for business of a legitimate nature and not, for example, to undertake paid employment.
B-1 visa-specific questions during your US visa interview will relate primarily to your employment status, as well as your personal and financial circumstances. In particular, you will be asked about your profession or job, as well as any other business interests. You may also be asked about other sources of income, including pensions and savings.
B-2 interview questions
B-2 tourist visa interview questions will typically focus on the reason for your travel and to establish that you will leave before your permission expires. You will also be asked to provide details of a sponsor for your visit.
- Why are you travelling to the US?
- Do you have a sponsor in the US for your visit?
- Can you provide your sponsor’s contact details.
- What does your sponsor do for a living? Where do they work and how much do they earn?
- If not a US citizen, how long has your sponsor been in the US? Which visa are they currently on and which visa type did they use to enter the US?
E-2 visa interview questions
The E-2 visa questions will cover both whether you are eligible as an individual and whether the financial and business requirments have been met relating to the E-2 company.
Your role will in the company will be examined. You must evidence that your role is to develop and direct the operations. This means more than day-to-day involvement in the company; it requires strategic position with senior-level responsibility.
Fundamentally, the adjudicator will need to be satisfied that a “substantial investment” has been made. This will also involve detailing how the money has been used and the status of the company – whether it is due to launch or already operational. E-2 applicants should also be prepared to declare the source of the investment funds and specifcally, to verify that the source (or sources) is legitimate.
The prospects of the company will also be considered, and the viability of the company proposition in the context of the relevant US market. Here, the E2 business plan will be critical in presenting relevant information and data to support projections in sales, revenues, market share and, importantly, job creation for US domestic workers.
E-1 visa interview questions
The E-1 or treaty trader visa is for citizens of countries with which the US maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation. An E-1 visa is for those coming to the US to engage in substantial trade in qualifying activities between the US and the treaty country.
During your US visa interview you will be required to demonstrate that you meet the E-1 visa eligibility criteria, not least that your business has an existing trading relationship with the US engaging in substantial trade activity.
If you are an employee of an E-1 business, you must show that you are destined to an executive or supervisory position, or that you possess skills essential to the firm’s operation in the US. As an E-1 employee, you will be asked questions during your US visa interview designed to confirm that you are qualified to undertake the role and job duties described in your application.
For businesses that are being reviewed for E-1 visa eligibility for the first time, the interview will focus primarily on details of company ownership, company operations and the nature of the trading relationship with the US.
L-1 visa interview questions
The L-1 or intra-company transfer visa is for employees of international companies who are being temporarily transferred to a parent, branch, affiliate or subsidiary of the same company in the US.
During your US visa interview you will be required to demonstrate that you meet the L-1 visa eligibility criteria, not least that you are at managerial or executive level or, alternatively, have specialised knowledge, and are destined to a position within the US company at the same level.
You must also have been employed with the international company continuously for one year within the three years preceding the visa application.
Questions during your US visa interview for an L-1 visa will relate specifically to your knowledge of the company that you work for, how it operates, your current role and salary, as well as your proposed role and salary in the US.
O-1 visa interview questions
The O-1 visa for those with extraordinary ability will see their interview focus largely on verifying their professional status and why their presence in the US is required for their work.
- What qualifications do you have?
- How long have you been active in your field?
- Who do you work for?
- How long have you worked for this organization?
- What work will you be doing in the US?
- Why do you need to be in the US to do your work?
- What work have you done for your employer in the past?
- What is your current salary for the organization?
- Have you worked in the US before? Give details of any US work visas you have previously held.
What documentation am I required to take to a US visa interview?
When attending a US visa interview you will be required to provide documentation specific to your category of visa application, for example, an L-1 employee must provide, amongst other things, a detailed job description letter.
Where applicable, you may also be required to bring documentary evidence of the following:
- Your status in the country of which you reside
- Any previously issued US visas
- Any serious communicable medical condition
- Any arrests, convictions or cautions, regardless of when they occurred
- Being denied entry to or deported from the US.
You may also need to show that you have sufficient funds available on arrival to support yourself during your stay in the US, and the residence abroad to which you intend to return. This could include, for example, bank statements and proof of your home address.
What will happen following my US visa interview?
At the conclusion of the US visa interview, the interviewing officer should inform you whether the application has been approved, denied, or if further documentation is required.
If your visa application is approved, and a visa is issued, your passport will be returned to you via courier service to the visa collection or passport location specified when making your visa interview appointment.
NNU Immigration are a team of US immigration attorneys based in central London, in close proximity to the London Embassy. We can advise on all types of US visa applications, and guide applicants through the petitioning process, including preparation for the US visa interview. Contact us for specialist advice on a US visa petition.
This article does not constitute direct legal advice and is for informational purposes only.