An important part of the US visa application process is gathering the required documents. After you have selected the type of visa you wish to apply for, you should review the requirements and begin gathering the documents necessary for that visa.
Regardless of what type of visa you are applying for, there are certain documents that the U.S. Embassy or Consulate will require from all applicants. Have these documents ready when you submit your visa application.
US Visa Requirements
The following documents are required to obtain a U.S. visa.
- Online nonimmigrant application form DS-160; you can download the DS-160 application form here.
- A valid passport. Your passport must be valid for at least six months from the date of your intended stay in the United States. However, some countries may waive this requirement if you have a passport that is valid for the duration of your stay in the US. Your passport must have at least one blank page on which to affix your visa.
- One photograph. A photo is required to apply for a U.S. visa. Upload your photo when you apply online using Form DS-160. If you have not uploaded your photo, you can submit it on the day of your appointment. However, even if you have uploaded your photo online, be sure to bring it with you as you may need it for your interview.
- A receipt for payment of the $160 fee required to apply for a U.S. nonimmigrant visa. Unlike the European visa policy where you pay the fee on the day of your interview appointment, for a U.S. visa you must pay the fee prior to your interview appointment. Please note that the US visa application fee is non-refundable if you cancel your interview appointment or if your visa application is denied.
- Social Media Details. A list of the social media sites you use, including the name and phone number of each account.
Each account name, phone number, email and social media history for the last 5 years.
All documents that are not in English or one of the official languages of the country where the interview is taking place must be translated. Translations must be certified by a competent translator.
When applying for a nonimmigrant visa to the U.S., you must complete an online application, Form DS-160, which can be completed online at the Consular Electronic Application Center.
In addition to the main documents, there are other documents that must be submitted to support the answers you provide in your application.
Previous USA visas
If you have previously traveled to the United States with an old passport, you must bring that passport to the embassy or consulate on the day of your interview. U.S. authorities will require a previous visa to prove that you have previously entered the United States.
A letter of invitation for a U.S. visa is a letter written by a U.S. citizen or legal resident to confirm that he or she is willing to host a foreign national who is a family member or friend, and that there is enough room for the visitor for the duration of his or her stay in the United States.
An itinerary is a written travel plan that shows what you will do while in the United States. It includes documents such as purchased airline reservations that indicate your expected dates of entry and departure from the United States. It also includes in-flight reservations, if required.
You will also need to provide proof of lodging. This should indicate where you will be staying in the U.S. (hotel, rented house, friend’s or relative’s house, etc.). However, you can simply indicate that you have the financial means to book a hotel when you arrive in the United States.
If you are sponsored by another U.S. resident to travel to the U.S., you must provide proof of sponsorship. The sponsor must provide the following documents:
- Letter for Affidavit – A letter confirming that the sponsor is able to financially support you for the entire duration of your stay.
- Certificate of Employment – This shows that your sponsor is employed and lists the salary that will be paid.
- Pay stubs – 3 to 4 recent pay stubs.
- Bank Letters – show the date the account was opened, total deposits for the past year, and current account balance.
If you own real estate in your home country or elsewhere, please provide proof of ownership. If you are applying for a nonimmigrant visa, owning real estate is a big plus because it shows that you have strong ties to your home country and do not intend to stay in the United States. If this is the case, you should bring the following evidence with you on the day of your appointment.
- Original copy of the property deed
- Photographs of the property
- A personal affidavit about the property
Employment / Professional Documents
- If you are employed, bring a letter from your employer stating your position, salary, length of employment, vacation time allowed, and purpose of travel to the United States.
- Pension booklet (if you are retired).
- If you are self-employed, a copy of your business registration and information about your income.
The following. Birth certificate, marriage certificate, photos of close family members, adoption certificate (if you have adopted a child), divorce certificate, death certificate of your spouse.
Letter from a physician
You must make an appointment for a medical examination with a doctor approved by the country where you are being interviewed. You must submit to a medical examination by a doctor approved by the Embassy. Examinations by other physicians are not permitted.
Requirements for Specific US Visa Types
Depending on the type of visa you are applying for, additional documentation may be required to apply for a U.S. visa.
Requirements for USA Study Visas
If you are applying for a U.S. student/exchange visitor visa, the consular officer will require you to provide proof that you have been admitted to a U.S. educational institution. This educational institution must be a member of the Student Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP). You must also pay the SEVIS I-901 fee in addition to the regular visa fee and provide proof of this fee at the time of your interview.
Requirements for USA Work Visas
Depending on the type of U.S. work visa you are applying for, you may be required to submit the following documents
- Proof of qualification (diploma, certificate)
- Proof of a professional degree (bachelor’s, master’s, doctorate)
- A job offer from a U.S. employer
- Resume or CV
- Letters from previous employers
- State license (if applicable)
- Documentation of special skills
- Additional fees, etc.
For more information about the specific requirements for each U.S. work visa, please read our article
Fingerprinting is a mandatory requirement for all individuals seeking a U.S. visa. Depending on the consulate or embassy, fingerprints are taken before or immediately after the interview.
Only the following categories are exempt from fingerprinting.
- Children under the age of 14
- Elderly persons over 79 years of age
- A-1, A-2, G-1, G-2, G-3, and C-3.
- NATO applicants
- Individuals who are physically unable to be fingerprinted
Once you have all the documents you need for your U.S. visa, it’s time to explore your U.S. health insurance options. You can find the best rate for your needs and compare health insurance plans.