It was sometime in 2016, when Tep and I applied for a US tourist visa in Qatar. I remembered it was raining so hard in Doha that time and the traffic was so heavy. Our appointment was at 7:00 am but we arrived at the US Embassy around 7:30 am already. Both of us were nervous, we thought of rescheduling it, but decided to try our luck.
Were we able to get the visa? Yes!! Want to know what we did to get approved? Read on.
A lot of people dreams to set foot in America. While it is easy for some nationalities to just fly there and present their passports, there are some whose adventure to the US will begin as soon as they apply for their US visa. We’ve been hearing a lot of success and failure stories whenever we talk about US visa application. But you have to keep in mind that the result of your application will entirely depend on you and on the assessment of the visa officer. This means that in order to get approved, you have to be prepared with all the documents required, be honest in answering all the questions and be confident during your interview.
NOTE: Unlike with other visa applications (Schengen or UK visa), you don’t need an airline or hotel booking once you decided to apply for a US Tourist Visa. You just need to have an idea on the date when you’re planning to go, the things that you will do and the places you wanted to visit.
Below are the steps that you have to follow, provided that you will be applying for a tourist or non immigrant visa (B1/B2 visa) and your country is not included on the Visa Waiver Program (for more information on the list of countries and other qualifications, click this link ).
I learned from Tep’s colleague, who recently got his US visa, that the steps in applying are still the same from the time that we have applied in 2016.
I. Prepare the necessary documents and Read the guidelines.
Before you complete the form, make sure that the following documents or information are on hand since you will need this in filling up the form.
- Address of where you will be staying (can be hotel, family or friend’s address in the US). They said that it is better to provide hotel address, but in my case, I provided my friend’s address.
- Information on your current and previous employment (address, position held, contact information, dates of employment)
- List of countries that you have visited
- Digital Photo taken within the last six months. They have specific requirements for the photo and you can check it here.
Read the guidelines set out by the US Embassy on this page. It is important that you have read and understood this in order to avoid inconveniences while filling up the form.
II. Complete the DS-160 Form
Complete the DS-160 Form. Make sure that all the information that you will provide are correct and accurate, since once you submitted it, you cannot make any changes. I will try to walk you through the process, see below.
1. The location that you will select here should be the same location where you will schedule your interview.
2. You can upload and test your digital photo here.
3. Click this link to start your application. This is also the page that you will visit if you want to retrieve your previous application.
You have to take note of your unique Application ID. This will be needed if you want to retrieve your application.
Once you have chosen your security question and provided the answer, click continue and you will be redirected to the DS-160 form.
1. Tooltip Language helps you in translating the questions to your selected language by pointing the mouse over the text. Click this link for more information. But take note that all your answers must be in English.
2. The estimated time to complete the form is 75 mins, but it took me more than this time because I reviewed mine thoroughly.
3. Summary of what will be asked from you. Fill up everything, if some items are not applicable to you, just write “Does not apply.” You cannot proceed unless you answer all the mandatory questions.
If I remember correctly, the form is more than 5 pages. Once you’re done, upload your picture, review all your answers and then electronically sign the form by clicking “Sign Application” found at the end of the form.
After completing the application form, the system will generate an alpha numeric barcode confirmation page. You have to print this since this will be needed during your interview.
This is a sample of the confirmation page.
If you will apply with your family, each member needs to complete the DS-160 form.
III. Create a Profile on the Online Applicant System
Once you have the confirmation page, you can now create a profile at the Online Applicant System. This is where you will schedule your visa interview.
1. The available schedule for interview can be seen right away on your dashboard.
2. Click New Application. Select the necessary answers on the succeeding pages. Then you will be redirected to a form, which you have to fill in with your personal data.
After completing the form, an important note on visa fee will pop up. Visa fee can only be paid at the Commercial Bank of Qatar.
Once you click the CBQ logo, you will redirected to the deposit slip. Print this and present to the bank. Take note of the expiration date.
IV. Pay the Visa Fee
You can pay the visa fee at any CBQ branch in Qatar. As of this writing, visa application fee is at $ 160 or QAR 584. This is non refundable and non transferable.
Apart from the deposit slip, you should also bring your passport when paying to the bank. Once you received the bank receipt, check all the personal data indicated there before leaving the bank.
Taken from the US Embassy Website. Take note of the receipt number found on the upper right part of the bank receipt.
You have to wait for your payment to be activated, after 11:00 am of the following business day, before you can schedule your interview.
V. Schedule your Interview
Log in to the online applicant system and input your bank receipt number.
Schedule your interview (at your most convenient date and time) using the calendar on the system. Take into consideration the time that you will need in gathering the necessary documents that you need to present during your interview.
VI. Gather all the Documents that You Need to Present
These are the documents that I have prepared and brought with me during my interview:
1. Original and copy of Passport – should be valid at least 6 months on your intended stay in the US (Required)
2. Old Passport (as proof of previous travels)
3. DS-160 Confirmation page and Appointment confirmation print outs (Required)
4. Employment certificate, addressed to the US Embassy in Qatar, stating my salary and position (Required)
5. Original payment receipt from the bank (Required)
6. Original QID and copy
7. Bank Statement for the past 6 months (my payroll account here in Qatar). Printed only through my online banking. Although some people suggest to have it stamped and signed by the bank. (Required)
8. 2×2 picture copies (those that I have uploaded on my DS-160 form)
The visa officer required us to submit only our passports and employment certificates during the interview. But this does not mean that you only have to prepare this. They may require different documents from every applicant.
Some applicants also prepare the following documents. It is up to you if you also want to bring these.
1. DS-160 Form
2. Pay Slips
3. Bank statement from your savings on your home country
4. Certificate of Investment or Properties
5. Marriage or Birth Certificate
Note on the bank statement: Nobody knows how much money you should have on your bank account in order to get approved. Some says, the more money you have means more chances on getting the visa. I don’t believe it though. I guess as long as you have few savings and you have regular transactions (such as your monthly salary) on your bank statement, then you have a chance of getting approved. And also, do not attempt to make a huge amount of deposit before your planned interview.
VII. Visit the US Embassy on the Date and Time of your Scheduled Interview
Arrive on time. You should arrive at the embassy on your scheduled date and time. In our case, we were late by 30 minutes, but they still allowed us to enter. I don’t know if it is because of the bad weather that time, but don’t gamble, it is still best to be there at least a few minutes before your scheduled time to compose yourself. Believe me, you don’t want to be late on appointments like this.
Wear something decent and presentable. This does not necessarily mean you have to wear a suit and tie. I guess a collared shirt and jeans will do. During my appointment, I was wearing my usual office attire, a blouse and black slacks, because I will be reporting to my office after. There will be a lot of walk before you get to the consular office, that is why I would suggest the ladies to wear flats.
Security. The US Embassy have a very tight security. If my memory serves me right, there were several security checks before we were able to enter the consular office. They would only allow you to bring a small bag to carry your documents and passport, wallets / small purse and any writing materials. That is why it is best to leave your mobile phones, camera, laptops, usb/hardrive and big bags on your car. Our car key was also surrendered to the security upon our check in.
Fingerprint / Biometrics. This will be taken at the consular office before your interview.
Interview. Once you’re called, greet first the visa officer (a simple good morning or good day). Calm yourself, don’t be nervous and answer all the questions honestly. During our interview, this was the only question asked:
Visa Officer: Why do you want to travel to the USA?
MI and Tep: For tourism and to visit our friend who is living in California (our friend’s address was the one that we have written on our DS-160 forms)
Afterwards, he asked for our passports and for our employment certificates. Then he gave us a small paper which shows the date and time that we can collect our passports. He didn’t told us whether we got approved or not, but we assumed we got it because he took our passports.
According to the experiences of some applicants, the visa officer told them right away the result of their application.
VIII. Pick up your passport with the US Visa at the US Embassy
I am hoping and praying that all of you who are reading this will make it to this step. You can collect your passport at the US Embassy on the date and time given to you. In our case, we were able to get it within 5 working days and we went to the embassy in the afternoon (between 1:00 to 3:00 pm).
We were happy to get a 10 year multiple entry visa to the USA. See mine below:
I guess I have written everything here. Most of the information were taken from the US Embassy in Qatar website and I have sited here as well our experiences when we were doing the application.
Have you tried applying for a US Tourist Visa? Let me know how did it go on the comment section below.
The featured image was taken from Pixabay.
Address: 22nd February Street, Al Luqta District
P.O. Box 2399 Doha, Qatar
Phone: (974) 4496-6000
Fax: (974) 4488-4298