Obtaining a U.S. Visa these days is arguably more difficult than it has been in past years. If you are missing even one document, your entire visa process can be denied. It is not uncommon for individuals to have their first visa application denied for missing forms, and have to redo them. Since the visa process takes quite a bit of work, it is best to get everything together up front and avoid any potential future problems.

For all intents and purposes, the United States has a fairly broad open door policy, welcoming individuals from all over the world who are interested in experiencing what the “land of opportunity” has to offer. In order to maintain its integrity, peace, and security, there is a fairly involved application process which includes U.S. consulate interviews in various countries. These are to help identify the purpose of each individual’s interest in traveling to the U.S., as well as to make sure that the individual will not be a liability in any form to United States residents. There will be numerous documents requested of you in such a consulate meeting.

The following list is the documents that you should have with you, if at all possible. For more information, please see the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services website at uscis.gov.

The documents that are needed can be categorized into 5 sections:

1) Completely filled Official form(s) for U.S. travel

  • DS-156 (and DS-157, if needed) forms: These forms have been replaced by a single form, DS-160, for most non-immigrant VISA classes.
  • VISA interview appointment letter. This is used to more or less help confirm your identity.
  • The fee receipt (if you paid your requested fee in advance)

2) Documents from your U.S. sponsor

  • For B1/B2: Sponsorship documents from relatives (form I-134)
  • For H-1B/L1: Approved work VISA petition (normally I-129 and I-765)
  • For F1/M1 students: Form I-20 A/B/M/N

3) Complete travel itinerary

  • A printed itinerary showing your complete travel arrangements (for short visits, having an itinerary that outlines your return is strongly advised)

4) Photographs as per any specifications that are issued by your local U.S. consulate office

  • Check your local consulate website for current instructions. Most of the time, a 2-inch by 2-inch photo that clearly shows your face is advised. It is strongly advised that you visit the website of your local consulate for clear instructions on photograph requirements.

5) Documents supporting your outlined purpose of travel

  • Any company letters, or sponsorship letters in addition to the official documents stated under point 2.

6) Documents that demonstrate close ties with your country of citizenship

  • Documents such as property ownership documents, family status, marital status, information on parents, financial ties, tax statements. You want it to seem like you are not abandoning your home country.

7) Documents demonstrating your financial capacity to support yourself during travel

  • Bank statements, deposit receipts, savings certificates, etc.

These tips should help you have an extremely successful initial visit with the U.S. consulate. In addition to being able to answer all of their concerns, having all of these documents up front will demonstrate that you are extremely serious about your interest in traveling to the United States.