Indian immigrants account for approximately 6% of the US foreign-born population and a large number of Indians travel to the United States for a variety of reasons. Irrespective of the purpose of the visit, foreign nationals require a visa to travel to the US. US visas for Indians are an official permit that allows them to enter the United States of America and stay there permanently or temporarily.
There are several different US visa categories based on the purpose and duration of your stay in the United States, such as US visitor visas i.e. B1 visa for business and B2 visa for tourism, H-1 B visa for employment, F-1 visa for students, etc. Foreign nationals can also apply for an immigrant visa to permanently settle in the US.
US visa types issued to foreign nationals
There are different types of US visas issued to foreign nationals. The US Government issues these visas under two categories – immigrant visa and nonimmigrant visa.
Immigrant visa: Indians who wish to settle permanently in the United States need to obtain an Immigrant visa. The United States issues limited immigrant visas to foreign nationals.
Nonimmigrant visa: Nonimmigrant visas are issued to non-US citizens who wish to stay in the US for a specified period of time, not permanently. Different types of nonimmigrant visas are issued to foreign nationals based on the purpose of the intended travel and duration of stay in the United States. The nonimmigrant visas are issued for the following purposes:
- Medical treatment
Foreign nationals can also apply for nearly 20 subclasses of nonimmigrant visas to visit the United States for short-term stays. For example, media and journalism visa, domestic employee visa, religious worker visa, transits/ship crew visa, exchange visitor visa, etc.
US Visas – eligibility criteria
As per the US Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), non-US citizens need to prove to the consular officer that they are eligible to get a visa to USA. While the eligibility criteria may slightly vary based on the USA visa type, here are basic criteria that you will need to meet to apply for US visas:
- You must have a passport that is valid for at least next 6 months.
- You should not have any criminal history in the past, neither should you have any criminal case pending against you.
- Nonimmigrant visa holders need to prove that they will stay in the United States for a limited period as allowed by a US visa.
- You must have sufficient funds to support your stay in the US.
- Dependents/ spouses need to apply for separate visas.
- You need to go through a medical test to get a medical certificate of sound health approved by a medical practitioner.
- You should not have any contagious disease.
- You should have a valid reason for your US visit.
Documents required for US visas
Here is the checklist of documents that you need to apply for a visa for America:
- Passport valid for at least six months after the intended date of entry into the USA.
- Colored photographs.
- Marriage certificate, when applicable.
- Divorce or death certificate of spouse, when required.
- Financial documents including current income proof, ITR, business ownership proof, property or assets.
- In case of a dependent or family-based visa application, original documents establishing the relationship between the visa applicant and the petitioner need to be submitted.
- Birth certificate.
- Police clearance certificate.
- Court records, when required.
- Military records, if required.
How to apply for US visas
You can apply for a US visa both online and offline. For a US visa application online, you need to fill the visa application form and submit your documents electronically. To apply for a visa manually, you need to download a US visa application form and fill it and submit the form to any of the US Embassy offices located in India.
US immigrant visa application process
Steps to apply for an immigrant visa for USA:
- Get a police clearance certificate from the Regional Passport Office.
- You need to go through the medical examination conducted by an approved medical practitioner and get a health certificate showing you have sound health.
- Complete the DS-260 Form with details like your Invoice ID number and Beneficiary ID number.
- Pay the visa application fees.
- Now you can book a US visa appointment with the US Embassy.
US nonimmigrant visa application process
Steps to apply for a nonimmigrant visa for USA:
- Select the visa type and category based on the purpose of your visit.
- Complete the DS-160 Form carefully and double-check the details you have provided because you can’t make changes once you submit the form.
- Pay the visa application fees through NEFT, internet banking or cash.
- Now you can book an appointment for the US visa interview with the US Embassy.
US visa interview – documents required
For Immigrant Visa application:
- DS-260 confirmation document stamped at the Visa Application Centre.
- Passport (all current and old).
- Police clearance certificate from the Regional Passport Office.
- Medical test report.
- Other supporting documents.
For nonimmigrant visa application:
- Copy of your appointment confirmation letter.
- DS-160 confirmation document stamped at the Visa Application Centre.
- Passport valid for at least the next 6 months from the intended entry date.
- All passports (Current and old).
- Police clearance certificate issued from the Regional Passport Office.
- Medical examination report.
- Supporting documents required for your Visa type.
US visa refusal
The most common reasons for US visa refusal are listed below:
- Incomplete visa application.
- Incomplete supporting documents.
- Unable to meet the eligibility criteria for the visa category set by the US Administration.
- Under trial or criminal records.
- Insufficient finance to support your visit to the United States.
- Unable to prove your intention of returning back to India.
- Expired passport or insufficient blank pages in the passport.
- Didn’t use a visa issued to you previously.
- Don’t have a legitimate reason for visiting the US.
Also Read: Indian Passport for NRI: Renewal vs Reissue
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A B2 visa is a nonimmigrant visa issued to foreign citizens to enter the US for tourism, pleasure, medical treatment, etc. The B2 visa is commonly known as the US tourist visa.
Yes, your child also needs to attend the visa interview at the US Embassy or Consulate located in India.
It is a US visa issued to fiancé and fiancée of a United States citizen that allows them to enter the United States. The fiancée/fiancé needs to marry the US citizen who applied for this visa within 90 days of entry into the US.
You can apply for a US visa either online by filling a visa application form and submitting the required documents. Alternatively, you can visit the US Embassy to apply for a visa.
You will have to apply for a new passport before you apply for a US visa.
No, the lost visa can’t be replaced. You will have to apply for a new visa again.
H-1B visas are issued to foreign employees who have got a job offer in the United States.
Yes, it is possible to reschedule a US visa interview.
You can apply for US visa renewal online by providing some key details like name, phone number and email ID. The visa renewal process may take a couple of weeks, depending on how quickly you can get a visa interview appointment at the US Embassy.
If you missed your US visa interview appointment, you can reschedule a category 3 appointment.
You can pay your visa application fees through your credit or debit card or send a bank draft in favor of the US Consulate General located in your country.