Obtaining Your Visa
Procuring a visa is the first important step in your journey toward working in the United States. A visa gives you permission to seek entrance to the country, but it neither provides you with work authorization nor guarantees your entry. While a visa authorizes you to enter the U.S., Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers always have the final say regarding your entrance and the length or your stay.
Consular Processing FAQs
You’ll receive your passport visa stamp at the consulate or embassy, preferably in your home country, which is operated by the U.S. Department of State. A complete list of all the consulates and embassies can be found here. It’s important to note that each consulate follows its own unique procedures, so you should consult their website before attending your interview.
At which consulate should I schedule an appointment to interview for my visa stamp?
It’s in your best interest to schedule an appointment at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in the country in which you are a citizen – especially if this is your first visa of a specific category. Although you can do so at any consulate, it may be more difficult to qualify for a visa outside of your home country.
What documents do I need to bring with me to my consular appointment?
You’ll need to bring several critical documents, including:
- Your passport
- Any prior passports with prior U.S. visa stamps – if you have any and if they are available
- Your I-797 approval notice, which is a Notice of Action that your application or petition has been approved
- A copy of your USCIS petition
- A copy of your response to any USCIS Requests for Evidence (RFE)
- Your two most recent pay stubs – if you’re already working for the U.S. company
- A letter from the U.S. company verifying your employment – if you haven’t already started working for them
- Confirmation of your DS-160 (online Nonimmigrant Visa Application)
- A receipt confirming payment of your applicable consulate fees
Can my spouse and children attend the interview with me?
Yes, every member of your family can attend the interview with you, but they will each need to bring confirmation of their own DS-160 and confirmation of their own consular fee payment.
What documents should my dependents bring to the consular interview?
If you and your dependents are attending the interview together, there are several important documents that each of them must bring, including:
- Their passports
- Any prior passports with prior U.S. visa stamps – if they have any and if they are available
- Their birth certificates (your children)
- Your marriage certificate (your spouse)
If your dependents are interviewing at a different time than you are, there are several additional documents that they must bring with them, including:
- A copy of your passport
- A copy of your I-797 approval notice
- A copy of your visa stamp
- A copy of your I-94 (Arrival and Departure Notice) – if you are currently in the U.S.
- Copies of your two most recent pay stubs – if you are currently in the U.S
Most people find consular interviews stressful, but there are several ways to ensure that your interview goes smoothly. Before you go to your interview, here are a few hints to keep in mind:
- Your DS-160 (online Nonimmigrant Visa Application) should be consistent with your USCIS application
- Be familiar with and conversant regarding your job description in the USCIS petition
- Dress professionally
- Arrive 10 to 15 minutes early
- Check and recheck to make sure that you have all your necessary documents with you and that they’re easily accessible
Your immigration legal team can guide you through the process and answer any questions or concerns you have about consular processing. If you need additional support, don’t hesitate to ask your legal team if they offer consular processing preparation services. Finally, there are several situations in which it’s strongly recommended that you connect with your legal team before your consular interview, including:
- If you have a criminal record
- If you’ve been denied a visa at the consulate in the past
- If the circumstances of your job offer have changed since you originally submitted your visa petition
Your legal team is on your side and will work closely with you to ensure that you and your dependents are well prepared to meet the requirements of successfully obtaining a visa.
Content in this publication is not intended as legal advice, nor should it be relied on as such. For additional information on the issues discussed, consult a Bridge-affiliated partner attorney or another qualified legal professional.