American Visa Application Documents
What supporting evidence will you need to collate & submit for your US visa application?
If you are not eligible to travel to the US under the Visa Waiver Program, you will need to apply to USCIS for the appropriate US visa.
Making an American visa application will require you to collate and submit documentation to evidence you are both admissible and eligible under the relevant visa requirements. While there are some types of documents that all applicants have to provide to the US Embassy or Consulate, other forms of documentary evidence will be determined by the visa you are applying for and your wider circumstances. You will need to check the requirements of the visa category you are applying under and compile the documentation as required for that particular immigration route. For example, work visas typically require more extensive supporting documents than visitor visas.
As there is no definitive or exhaustive list of supporting documents, it is advisable to take professional guidance on your case to ensure you understand what is required of your application and that the documents you submit will help to put forward the strongest case for you.
US visa document requirements
The following documents are to be provided by US visa applicants:
DS-160 application form
This is the nonimmigrant application form you have to complete to start your visa application. Once you have submitted the form, you will need to print off the confirmation sheet and take this to your visa interview.
Application payment receipt
You will need to pay the $160 application fee before you can proceed to book your visa appointment. You should print off the receipt and bring this to your visa interview as proof of payment.
Your passport must be valid and in most cases must have a minimum of six months validity beyond your planned stay in the US. The passport should also have a blank page for the visa to be affixed.
When you complete the DS-160 you will also have to upload a photograph of yourself, compliant with the US visa photo requirements. It is recommended to take a printed copy of the photograph with you to the visa appointment, just in case.
Social media accounts
Applicants should bring a log of their social media activity from the preceding five years, including a list of their social media platforms you use, your account names and handles, phone number and email addresses.
Temporary visa supporting documents
As a general guide you should consider the following documents to evidence the information in your American visa application form:
Personal & identification documents
This could include, as applicable, birth or adoption certificate, marriage / civil partnership / divorce certificate, family photographs as proof of family ties to your country of residence or connection to those you will be visiting or staying within the US.
Depending on your working status, this could include a letter from your employer in your country of residence, income details and company registration details if you are self-employed, or pension documentation if retired.
If you intend to be sponsored by a US resident during your stay, you will need to provide documentary evidence to support this such as a letter for affidavit from your sponsor confirming they are able to support you financially during your time in the US.
The adjudicator will be looking for assurance you will leave the US before your visa expiry. This can be evidenced with documentary proof of ‘sufficient ties’ to your country of residence in the form of assets such as property.
Original documents that are not in English will need to be translated and certified by a competent translator.
The adjudicator will be looking to understand your plans while in the US. Provide a full itinerary with details of intended dates for arrival and departure, accommodation and planned activity during your stay.
Previous US immigration documents
Provide documents evidencing prior travel or entry into the US such as any old passports.
US work visa supporting documents
Work visas ordinarily demand extensive evidence of eligibility. Depending on the work visa type you apply for, you may have to submit some of the following documents:
- Documents supporting your relevant qualifications and certifications, such as original degree certificate
- Evidence of your job offer/employment in the US, such as a letter from your employer detailing your position, nature of the stay and itinerary for business purposes, itinerary, or your contract of employment
- Your resume
- Letter(s) from previous employer(s)
- Endorsement of your professional ability and standing (O-1 visa)
- Business case (E-2 visa)
Again, it is recommended to take advice to ensure you submit documents relevant to the visa category you are applying under.
American visa application interview
You should also expect to be questioned on your evidence submission during your visa interview. The adjudicator will be looking to clarify any queries and to satisfy your credibility as a visa applicant.
As such, applicants are advised to prepare well for questioning, to ensure they are familiar with the details they have been provided in their application and to be able to answer any questions accurately.
If during the interview you are asked a question and you are not certain of the answer, do not guess, lie or fabricate. It is always best to be honest and tell the adjudicator you don’t know, and to provide as much information as you are certain of.
Your interview letter will advise which documents you will need to bring with you to the interview, which would generally include:
- Confirmation page of the application form DS-160 (with barcode)
- Appointment confirmation page
- Your current, valid passport or other travel document
- One 5 x 5 cm (2” by 2”) color photograph from the last six months
- Evidence of your status in the United Kingdom, if you are not a U.K or EU passport holder
- Evidence of previously issued US visas
- Evidence of your intended business activities in the United States such as a letter from your employer, if attending a business meeting
- If you have ever been arrested, cautioned, convicted
- If you have a medical condition impacting your eligibility for a visa
- If you have been denied entry into or deported, or removed from the US
It may however be advantageous to your application to take additional documents, to pre-empt potential requests. Take professional advice on your circumstances and to understand what adjudicators are looking for and are typically requesting from applicants. For example, evidence of your intent to leave the US by the end of your visa, and that you have access to funds sufficient to cover all expenses while in the United States.
Under the current US administration, visa processing has become more stringent than ever and Consular adjudicators are empowered to outright deny applications without first having to request clarification or additional information from applicants. A refused visa also means lost application fee(s). So it has never been more important to ensure your petition and supporting evidence are comprehensive and compliant with US immigration rules.
NNU Immigration are specialist US attorneys with particular expertise and experience in supporting entrepreneurs, investors, corporates and their employees, and visa holder dependants on all aspects of US immigration applications. Contact us if you have a question about an American visa application.
This article does not constitute direct legal advice and is for informational purposes only.