If you plan to travel to the US, you will need a US Visa. Depending on your reason for travel, you will require either a non-immigrant visa or an immigrant visa.


The process for obtaining a US Visa is generally the same worldwide. In this guide, we will provide a detailed, step-by-step process for obtaining a US Visa, from checking the requirements to getting the visa stamped in your passport.

Below is an overview of the main steps involved in the US visa stamping process at a US Consulate. We will discuss each of these steps in detail below.


Step 1: Determine US Visa Type Needed

Before applying for a US visa, it’s crucial to determine the specific visa type required for your travel. The visa category should align with the purpose of your visit, and each category has its own set of requirements that must be met by the applicant. Choosing the correct visa category is vital because you’ll need to gather all relevant supporting documents for the chosen visa type when attending the visa interview.

Below are some of the common types of visas

  • B2 Visitors Visa – for tourism, visiting friends, attending events
  • B1 – Business Visa – for Business meetings, negotiations, conferences
  • F1 – Student Visa – Study in the US for either Bachelor’s or Master’s
  • H1B – Work Visa –  To work in a Speciality occupation in the US
  • H4 – Dependent Visa – travel to the US as a dependent for H1B workers
  • L1 – Intracompany Transfer Visa – International Transfer to work in US Office 

If your purpose for visiting the US is not covered by the popular visa types listed above, you can refer to the US State Department Visa Categories page to find the visa category that suits the purpose of your visit.

Step 2: Gather Required information for US Visa Application

Depending on the type of US visa you plan to apply for, you will need to gather all the relevant documents to complete the online US visa application (DS-160 form). The following are the common documents and information that you will need, regardless of the visa type.

Documents Checklist to fill Online US Visa Application:

  • Passport
  • Your personal contact information
  • Your Family information of Spouse, Parents, and Kids as applicable.
  • Your current occupation information
  • All your previous work experience history
  • All your education history (need from 10th grade onwards)
  • US Travel Itinerary
  • Details about who will pay for your US trip.
  • Digital Passport photo with white background.
  • US Point of Contact information
  • Your Social Media Contact information like Facebook, Twitter, etc.
  • If you have travel companions, their information.

Please remember the following information: In addition to the above, you will need specific documents and information related to the US Visa type you choose. For example, if you are applying for a work visa such as the H1B Visa, you will need details about the USCIS H1B Petition approval notice.

Step 3: Complete and Submit DS-160 Form

After gathering all your documents and information, you need to fill out the DS-160 form online. If you are applying for an immigrant visa, you will need to fill out the DS-260 form. The following are the general high-level steps for non-immigrant visas such as visitor, work, student, or dependent visas.

After completing the form, you will receive an Application ID. Make sure to note it down or print it, as you will need it to return and finish the application later.

The US Visa Application (DS-160) form is extensive and may take some time to complete. Be sure to have all the necessary documents and information mentioned in Step 2 readily available. Once the form is completed, it must be submitted online. You will receive a confirmation after submission. Save and print the confirmation of the US Visa application (DS-160) as it will be required for booking a US visa appointment and for the visa interview.

Step 4: Pay the US Visa fee (MRV Fee)

After completing the online US Visa Application (DS-160) form, you must pay the fee for your US Visa, also known as a Machine Readable Visa (MRV) fee. The fee is non-refundable and non-transferable.

How much is the US Visa fee?

The fee varies by the type of Visa application that you are applying for. Below are some of the common types and their visa fee.

  • Non-petition based visa types like B1,B2, F1 – $160 USD
  • Petition-based visa types like H1B, L1, and H4 – $190 USD
  • E Visas – $205, K Visas – $265 USD

You can check the current US Visa fee for all visa types at Visa Fees .

Depending on the country you are visiting and the type of visa you are applying for, you may be required to pay additional fees, such as visa issuance fees or other types of fees like the SEVIS fee for an F1 visa applicant. To find out the complete fee, please check the visa appointment booking website, such as, for the specific country you are visiting.

How to pay the US Visa fee?

Please remember the following information about paying the Visa fee: You can pay the Visa fee using an online payment system or by visiting a bank, depending on your country. To find out the specific process for your country, please check the US Consulate website or visit the CGI Federal website at


For example, in India, you can pay the fees using the CGI Federal website or online banking. You can find more information about India Visa Fee payment options on their website at Usually, you will need to create a profile on the respective website for India and then make the payment. It’s important to keep copies of the fee payment receipts for reference and to show them at the US consulate as needed.

Step 5: Schedule Biometrics, Visa Interview Appointments

After you have paid the fee either online or at a bank, you will need to schedule a US Visa appointment for the Visa interview. Additionally, you will be required to schedule a separate biometrics appointment to capture your fingerprints and photo.

  • First appointment to give biometrics is usually at Visa Application Center (VAC) or Offsite Facility Center (OFC)
  • Second appointment for Visa Interview at US Consulate.

You will usually need the below information to schedule these appointments

  • Passport Number
  • Visa Application Fee Receipt Number
  • Bar Code confirmation from DS-160 confirmation page.

If you are unable to attend your scheduled US visa appointment, you have the option to reschedule or change it. The number of times you can reschedule varies by country, typically ranging from 2 to 6 times. For complete details, you can find more information on “How many times can I reschedule my US Visa Appointment.”

During the visa appointment booking process, you may encounter errors such as “Error occurred while loading a Visualforce Page,” “Your group size is larger than the current allocation,” or “Your personal details match the profile which already exists in our database.” If you come across these issues, you should reach out to the US Travel Docs Customer support for assistance.

If you end up scheduling your interview appointment at a different location than the one you selected on DS-160 when you submitted it, and it is still within the same country, there is no need to update the location on DS-160. You can find more information on this at “Do I need to update DS-160 location after submission.”

Step 6: Prepare Documents to carry for US Visa Interview

After your visa interview and biometrics appointment are confirmed, it’s important to prepare for them. Depending on the type of visa you are applying for, you will need to bring all the required supporting documents. Here are a few examples.

  • Work Visa: For instance, if you are applying for work visa like H1B visa stamping, you need to carry all the relevant documents like USCIS H1B Approval notice, Form I-129 copy, H1B LCA copy, Employer letter, etc.
  • Student Visa: For instance, if you are applying for F1 student visa, you will need to carry all documents like I-20, School Acceptance Letter, SEVIS Fee receipt, Education Certificates, Sponsorship documents for fee, etc.

Step 7: Attend Biometrics Appointment, US Visa Interview

Please make sure to attend the Biometrics appointment on the scheduled date and bring all the necessary documents such as the Appointment Notice, DS-160 confirmation, Passport, and any other required documents.

Following the Biometrics appointment, you’ll need to attend the US Visa interview at the Consulate. During this interview, a US Consular Officer will ask you questions related to your visa application. For example, if you are going to the US for studies, they may inquire about your school details, your intentions, and why you chose a particular school. The decision to issue the visa rests with the Visa officer. You can find examples of questions asked during the US Visa interview on our website under “US Visa Stamping User Experiences Collection” or in the category of “US Visa Stamping Experiences.”

If the US Consular officer is satisfied, they may approve your visa and inform you. They will then take your passport and notify you once the US Visa has been stamped and is ready for collection.

However, if the officer needs more time, they may issue a piece of paper and inform you that your case is going into Administrative Processing (221g). This can potentially delay the process, and you will need to wait for further updates.

Step 8: Check US Visa Status Online

After your visa stamping interview is complete, you need to check the status on the US State Department CEAC website. If your visa was approved, you will see the status as “Issued.” Read How to Check US Visa Status Online.

Step 9: Collect Passport with US Visa

Once your US Visa is approved and a visa is issued to you by the Visa officer, they will affix a US Visa foil in your passport and notify you to collect the passport. Alternatively, if you have opted for home delivery, they will deliver the passport with the US visa to your address and you will be notified accordingly. Typically, this process can take anywhere from a few days to a week. This is the complete process for applying for a US Visa and having it stamped in your passport.


Do I need to attend US Visa in-person interview for US Visa Renewals?

You generally do not need to attend an in-person interview for the renewal of your US visa. You need to follow the same steps as before, but without the interview. The CGI federal system will indicate if you are eligible for an interview waiver and allow you to submit the necessary documents. If everything is in order, you will receive your renewed visa with a new visa foil in your passport. You can refer to “How to apply for H1B Visa Dropbox” to understand the typical steps involved in the interview waiver or dropbox process.

What are my changes to get US Visa Approval ?

“The outcome of your visa application depends on various factors, such as your application and credentials. It’s your responsibility to persuade the US Consular Officer to grant you the visa. Be well-prepared, have all necessary documents, and answer the officer’s questions confidently to improve your chances of getting the US Visa.”