How to get a tourist visa in the USA in 2018 year: step by step instructions
In April 2018, I received a tourist visa to the United States, - writes Grigory Yaroshenko for T — F. I am a citizen of Russia, but I had to go to Kiev for a visa, because in Russia I would have to wait 300 days. It took me 20 days to complete the entire process from applying for a passport with a visa. It was possible to keep within two weeks. I'll tell you how to get an American visa now and not wait for almost a year.
Queue for a visa in Moscow
American visas in Russia are issued in three places: at the US Embassy in Moscow and at the consulates in Yekaterinburg and Vladivostok. Due to the nature of relations between Russia and the United States in 2018, it is almost impossible to get an American visa in Moscow and Yekaterinburg - it will take about half a year to wait for an interview. In Vladivostok, the situation is easier; you can get an interview there in 50 days.
In early June, the 2018 of the year in Moscow opened a new US visa application center, but this so far has not affected the waiting times. Due to the lack of staff, most of the reception windows are empty.
Citizens of Russia can apply for a US visa in any country of the world. You can, for example, choose a comfortable republic for the trip to the former USSR. The US consulates in these countries are ready for Russian appeals and conduct interviews as usual.
The process of obtaining a visa in another country has its own characteristics. Let's go through all the stages and analyze the nuances.
STEP 1. Select type of visa
Visas to the United States are of two types: immigration and non-immigration. Tourist and business trips usually travel on a B1 / B2 nonimmigrant visa. The same visa is suitable for transit.
Since autumn 2012, the visa B1 / B2 is issued to Russians for three years. This does not mean that all this time can be spent in the United States. Any non-immigrant visa only gives the right to arrive at a border checkpoint in the United States. Already in place, the officer of the Bureau of Customs and Border Control will determine the duration of your stay in the country. Usually it is six months. You can come on the last day of the visa and stay for the same six months.
STEP 2. Choose a country for an interview
To get a visa in the United States, you need to be fingerprinted and have an interview at the consulate. An interview is like meeting with a border guard at any international airport. Only a consular officer will ask more questions and, as a rule, in English. In countries where the Russian-speaking population is a significant part, there are consuls who speak Russian. I had an interview in Moscow and Kiev - both times in English. In this case, my friends were interviewed in Moscow in Russian. You can not guess.
I recommend choosing a country for an interview like this:
- Make a list of areas where you can easily go to 3 — 5 days.
- Go to the website of the service CGI Federal. Only this company is authorized by the US State Department to collect and process visa applications.
- Find on the CGI Federal website a page for each country from your list. Carefully read about how to apply for a visa and pay the consular fee, what are the waiting times for the interview date.
In each country, the US Consulate has its own characteristics. For example, in Tbilisi there are two lines for an interview: one for the citizens of Georgia, the other for the Russians. And in Kiev, the total turn. This affects the timing: in Georgia, you need to wait for an interview for several months, in Kiev - for a few days.
The other moment is the road. Direct flights of four airlines fly to Tbilisi, thanks to the competition there are cheap tickets. You will have to fly to Kiev with a transfer or go 14 hours by train, and the trip will cost more. In all other countries, its nuances. So far, there is no single portal where all the information is collected. You need to look for yourself. And it’s better to start from the CGI Federal page, where there is first-hand information in Russian.
I received a visa in Kiev, because I am ready to go there for any reason - I like the city and its inhabitants. And in Kiev, my friends live, who offered to help with the payment of the consular fee - in the case of Ukraine you cannot pay for it via the Internet.
STEP 3. Pay a consular fee
The consular fee is the payment of services for processing a visa application. For Russian citizens, the consular fee for a B1 / B2 visa is 160 $. The amount does not depend on which country to get a visa. Collection is not refundable and cannot be used by another person. The receipt of payment of the fee is valid for one year.
The fee is paid for one particular country; it cannot be used in another. Everywhere your payment requirements. US consulates in Estonia, Latvia and Kazakhstan accept payment via the Internet. In Georgia and Ukraine - only in cash at a bank in the country. Information on payment methods should be clarified on the CGI Federal website.
My Kiev friends paid for the 23 March consular fee. After 20 days I received a passport with a visa.
STEP 4. Fill out a visa application
As for other visas, for a visa in the United States you need to fill out a form. Unlike "Schengen", you do not need to print it - everything is done on the Internet. The questionnaire is detailed, consists of 11 pages. It can be filled in several receptions. The main thing is to save each page in order not to lose data.
First you need to choose the language and city where you will receive a visa. After that, a window will open for uploading a photo. You can check how your photo meets specifications. If the photo does not pass, there is also a tool for correction.
The photo should be no older than six months, in JPEG format, color, size 5 × 5 cm and weigh no more than 240 kb.
Fill out the form DS − 160 in Latin letters. It is easy to work with the questionnaire: there are hints to the right of each field.
In the questionnaire, you must specify your address in the United States. Both times I used the address of the hotel where I planned to make the first stop in the country. The remaining points of the questionnaire are also simple: personal data, education, work. The basic rule when filling out DS − 160: answer questions truthfully. Any lie can lead to a visa denial.
After filling in the form, a confirmation will appear. It will need to be printed.
STEP 5. Sign up for an interview
The recording takes place on the website of the US diplomatic mission in the country you have chosen to receive a visa. You need to prepare a passport, a receipt for payment of the consular fee and the confirmation number to the application in the form DS-160.
New users will be prompted to create an account. After entering your personal data, you will need to choose the method and address of delivery of the passport with a ready visa. Passport can not be picked up at the consulate - the delivery of documents involved in the courier service. It works only in the territory of the country where the visa is issued. If you get a visa in Kiev, you will have to wait for a passport with a visa somewhere in Ukraine.
In the next step, you need to specify the number of the receipt of payment of the consular fee. Then a calendar will open, in which the day suitable for the interview is selected.
I did not need to create an account: I did it when I received the visa for the first time. Only my account was tied to the US consulate in Russia. To change the "registration", I had to write a letter to the support service. The question was resolved in one day.
STEP 6. Plan a trip for an interview
If you did everything correctly, you will receive confirmation of your appointment for an interview. An instruction with a list of documents to be brought to the consulate is attached to it.
In the list of required documents there is an item “Other documents”. For a B1 / B2 visa, this means: anything that proves your relationship with your homeland. This may be a certificate from work, documents showing the business or the right to property in the Russian Federation. I took a certificate from work and a bank statement.
The work of receiving people in the US consulates is well organized, so there is no need to come much earlier than the appointed time. I arrived at the Kiev railway station two hours before the interview. I handed the bag to the storage room and went to the consulate. On the way I had time to drink coffee. The whole procedure, with screening, fingerprints and interviews, took 40 minutes.
STEP 7. Pass the interview
The B1 / B2 visa decision is based on the presumption of guilt: everyone who applies for a visa is considered a potential immigrant. To get a visa, you need to prove that at the end of the trip you will return to your homeland.
The first question of the interview is the purpose of the visit. The further course of the conversation with the officer depends on how detailed you answer it. The worst answer is simply “tourism.” You need to have a rough itinerary with dates and a realistic story about the plans. It’s really worth the time.
Another mandatory question is work. It is not enough just to name the position, it is necessary to briefly describe the terms of reference. In general, any one-syllable answers to the officer’s questions reduce the likelihood of obtaining a visa.
It was already my second American visa. As in the first interview, I was nervous. And again it went easier than I thought. I was asked three questions: about the purpose of the visit, satellites and work. None of the prepared documents did not have to get.
STEP 8. Get a passport with a visa
The officer who conducted the interview said that the visa would be ready in two days. For this period, I booked an apartment through Airbnb.com from Moscow. I did not have a return ticket, because I did not know when I would take my passport. Returning for the bag to the station, I bought a ticket for a train to Moscow with departure in three days.
On the third day after the interview, I checked the passport status in the personal account of the CGI Federal service. The status has changed to “waiting at the courier service office”. Having received a passport with a three-year visa, I returned home.
Impressions of the trip for a visa to Kiev
The only inconvenience from a trip to Kiev is the road. You need to fly from Moscow with a transfer, and there are no air conditioners, dry closets and a restaurant on trains running between the capitals. The train is about 14 hours with two long stops at the border - from the Russian and Ukrainian side.
Russians still do not need a visa to travel to Ukraine, although you will no longer enter the internal passport. Ukrainian border guards are polite, they need to show confirmation for an interview at the US Consulate and housing reservation.
Yandex services do not work in Ukraine. I could not open the mail to see the reservation of the apartment. Otherwise, getting a visa in Kiev is comfortable. Kievans are friendly, everyone understands Russian. Kiev is beautiful and good for walking.
- Budget trip to Kiev for a visa for three days - 27 500 rubles
- Round-trip train tickets, coupe - 12 000 rubles
- Rent an apartment on Khreshchatyk, 3 nights - 7500 rubles
- Food, drinks and entertainment, 4 of the day - 8000 rubles
- The waiting time for an interview for a tourist visa in the USA in Moscow is 300 days.
- Citizens of Russia can apply for a US visa in any country of the world.
- There is only one official website for applying for a visa in the United States - the CGI Federal service.
- When choosing a country, consider the method of payment of the consular fee.
- Application for a US visa is filled only on the Internet.
- Monosyllabic answers to questions from a consular officer reduce the likelihood of obtaining a visa.
- Ready to passport can not pick up at the consulate or order delivery to Russia.
- Yandex services do not work in Kiev. The rest is a friendly city.
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