How to apply for a USA Non-immigrant visa and what steps to follow
I recently applied for a Non-immigrant US Visa to visit the land of the free later this year. The process of applying for a US Visa is actually very easy and straightforward however there are a few tips I can give that’ll make the process even easier. It was a while ago so if I’ve missed anything please let us know in the comment section and we’ll update the post accordingly.
Get your picture taken. I went to Foto First and they did a grand job. The US Department of state is actually quite strict with the photo requirements so you have to make sure that the place where you’re taking the photos know this. Also ask the place if they can email you a digital copy of the photo. You’ll need to upload this digital copy to the application website. You’ll require the actual printed photos when you go to the consulate or embassy for your interview. The exact requirements can be found here – https://travel.state.gov/content/visas/en/general/photos.html
Once your photos are sorted you can start the application process. Everything begins here – https://ceac.state.gov/genniv/
Once you’ve selected either South Africa Cape Town, South Africa Durban or South Africa Johannesburg you’ll be taken to the start of the DS-160 application. You’ll see a link where you can test your photo before you begin. Once your photo passes you can start the application. It’s quite a lot of questions with a couple of strange/funny ones thrown in but nothing too hectic.
When you’re done it’s time to pay the piper. At the time of writing a visitor Visa went for US$160.00. (ZAR2,662.25 at today’s exchange rate).
You’ll receive a confirmation email when you’re done with the application and payment went through. You’ll then be able to create an account here – https://ais.usvisa-info.com/en-ZA/niv
It’s the Official US Department of State Visa Appointment Service website. Here you’ll be able to schedule your appointment for an interview, print out your instruction page which is basically a confirmation that you completed the online DS-160 application and also tell them where they should send your passport should your Visa be approved. You have to take this document with you on the day of your interview.
On the day of your appointment – be there early regardless of the time you picked. When I went there was a quite a queue waiting outside so get ready for some good ol’ standing-in-line action. Have your confirmation form (the one with the barcode on it) ready along with your printed Visa photos and passport. They mention on the appointment website that you should bring along any documents that you feel might support your case. Since my brother lives in America he sent me a truckload of documents basically telling the US Government I won’t be a burden on the system and he promises he’ll kick me out should I overstay my welcome. However none of these were required in my case.
You enter the consulate, surrender your cell phone, cigarettes, lighter, gum, soul, everything. I went in with my massive folder of documents, printed confirmation, photos & passport. When you enter the main building you stand in another queue. They give you this flyer with instructions of how the process will go from there on in. You hand your confirmation form, photos and passport in and they give you a number. You take a seat and wait for your number to be called. When they call you you go to the designated counter where they take your fingerprints. Take a seat again. When your number is called the second time you go to another counter where someone interviews you. They asked me when I plan on visiting the US. Why I was going. What kind of work I do here in SA and also what my brother does over there. Took about 10 minutes and the kind lady told me my Visa was approved and that I should have a nice day.
About 2 business days later I received an email that said my passport (with my new Visa) had been shipped and that was it. Fairly painless and easy. Also when I had my first look at the Visa I found it was valid for 10 years (which is nice). Good luck with your application and if your experience is/was different than mine please let us know.