I really wanted to get US Visa not because I wanted to travel to US but because lot of countries offer visa free or visa on arrival entry to Indian passport holders with valid US VISA. It has saved me from a lot of hassle to get a prior visa and I could travel to a few countries on US VISA.
While the internet is full of US visa horror stories, getting a US tourist visa from India for me was actually a stress-free experience.
I was planning to apply for US VISA for 1 year and finally in December 2018, I applied for B1/B2 Visa. Note that the B2 visa is for travel that is recreational in nature, including tourism, visits with friends or relatives, medical treatments etc.
Often, the B-1 and B-2 visas are combined and issued as one visa: the B-1/B-2. There are many types of US visas.
I did everything like on my own instead of applying through an agent.
I was very confident of getting the US Visa as I had a very good travel history already. I already had all these visas in the past.
- Schengen Visa for Hungary
- Schengen Visa for France
- Sri Lankan Visa
- Malaysian Visa
- Working Visa of Oman
- UAE Visa
- Cambodian Visa
- Turkish Visa
- Multiple Thai Visas.
Best Things to Do and See in the U.S.
Before going to the United States, a lot of people usually think about visiting the Statue of Liberty, New York City, Niagara Falls, the beaches in Miami, San Fran Cisco etc. A great thing about USA is its natural beauty and vastness, which is reflected in many of its national parks such as Yellow Stone, Archies, Olympics etc.
A lot of people also choose to do road trips, thereby covering different national parks, landmarks, cities. If you love road trips, here is a list of amazing US road trip itineraries.
US Tourist Visa from India Requirements
1. Form DS-160
The DS-160 form is the mandatory US visa application form that you need to fill out if you are applying for a US tourist visa from India or any other country. It’s quite long and has a lot of information. So fill it out only when not distracted by anything else.
You can file the form DS-160 online via the US Consular Electronic Application Center.
2. Travel Itinerary
A travel itinerary or a travel plan is basically a document that outlines a plan on how you will be traveling when you are inside the USA and the places you will be going to. It would also include roundtrip flight tickets from India to the USA. Note that it is possible to get a flight itinerary for visa for US without actually purchasing the tickets.
3. Proof of Accommodation
You would need to show some proof of accommodation such as hotel or hostel reservation or a friend’s house in the USA.
4. Proof of Employment for US Visa
If you are employed
- Letter of leave permission from your employer
- Salary slips for the last 3 months
- An employment contract or offer letter
- ITR (Income Tax Return) for the last two years
If you are self-employed
- ITR for the last two years
- A copy of the CIN certificate/ LLP certificate/GST certificate/Udhyog Aadhar memorandum/Import Export certificate, depending on your company
- Company bank statements for the last six months
5. Proof of Strong Ties to Home Country
This is probably the most deciding factor when getting a US tourist visa from India. The consular officer would always want to be doubly-sure that you will return to your country after traveling in the USA.
While proof of employment or proof of business are definitely evidence of your strong ties to India, a big plus is if you own any properties.
Owning property is a huge plus if you are applying for a US tourist visa. It demonstrates that you have strong ties with your home country, and you have intent to leave when your US visa expires. On the appointment day, you can bring
- Property ownership papers in original
- Personal affidavit regarding the property
- Photographs of that property
6. Proof of Finance
You will need to show proof of sufficient funds to sustain yourself during your travel by showing the bank statements for visa for US.
7. US Visa Invitation Letter
You can get a letter of invitation for US visa from a friend or relative who is a legal resident or citizen of the United States.
Cost for US Visitor Visa in India
You can make the payment for the US visa to get an appointment. I would suggest checking the dates when you are planning. Depending on the consulate, it can take time to get an appointment.
US tourist visa fees in India are $160 USD. It is the same no matter where you are applying for US visitor visa. I paid 12160 Rupees at the time, which can change as per the exchange rate.
Similar to a Schengen visa, you need to pay the US Visa fees to be able to schedule an interview. And, of course, the US visa fee is non-refundable whether you cancel the appointment or the US consulate rejects your application.
US Visitor Visa Biometrics and Appointment
Fingerprints are a mandatory requirement for US visa. Depending on the consulate or embassy, you will have your fingerprints taken either before or just after the interview. If you are applying for US visitor visa in India, you need to get the biometrics done before the interview.
After submitting my application, I opted for biometric on 30th December 2018 and a personal interview on 31st December 2018 in the Mumbai US consulate.
You can book the biometrics appointment here.
Biometric for US visa was scheduled at 2 pm and I reached the US visa application center at 1:30. They allow entry inside 30 mins prior to your scheduled time. The process was quite smooth and they took my fingerprints and photo and I was out in 15–20 mins.
Biometrics for US Tourist Visa Document Checklist
- Passport (bring all old passports if you have any)
- DS-160 confirmation (Color or B/W printout)
- Appointment confirmation
US Visa Interview Appointment
US Consulate Mumbai
Timing: 8 am-4.30 pm
So here comes the big day.
My interview was scheduled at 9:00 am and I reached the consulate at 8:15 am. Around 8:30, they allowed 9 am batch to enter inside and there were airport type security arrangements inside and all the candidates were checked thoroughly.
You are only allowed to carry the documents nothing else not even the mobile phone and only application-related papers carried by hand are permitted.
I was carrying all my documents such as mark sheets, payslips, leave approval letter from my company, ITR returns, bank statements, travel itinerary, my expired passport, id proofs, my parent’s id proofs, Form DS 160 confirmation page, photos etc.
After the security checks, we were seated in a corridor according to our appointment time. Though I was confident of getting the VISA, I started getting nervous and nervousness increased when we were asked to go inside the Interview hall.
While standing in the queue and waiting for my turn, I was going through answers to the questions which Interviewer could ask. After 30 mins of waiting in the queue, it was finally my time. The interviewer was a male aged around 40 may be.
Me: Hi, Good morning!! How are you today?
Interviewer: Good morning!! I am very well sir, thank you !! How are you?
Me: I am good too, thanks!!
Interviewer: Great, Can I have your passport please?
Me: Sure, do you need my previous passport as well? (while handing him my current passport)
Interviewer: No, its fine. So, what is your purpose of travel to US? (While checking other visa stamps on my passport)
Interviewer: (While typing in his computer) How many days you are planning to stay in US?
Me: 1 week
Interviewer: (Again while typing in his computer) What do you do?
Me: I work as Team Lead, Client Manager with Investis Digital.
Interviewer: YOUR VISA IS APPROVED SIR (and he kept my passport with him)
Me: Thank you
So, I was asked only this much and it all went very smoothly for me. On 3rd Jan 2019, I received my passport with US Visa on it.
Extending USA Tourist Visa
In case you want to extend US visitor visa, you can do it by filing a request with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). You need to do this before the authorized stay expires.
This request should on Form I-539.
Visa on Arrival for Indians with US Visa
If you have a valid US visa, you can travel to many countries in South America, Asia and Europe without applying for an extra visa from India for these countries.
After getting US Visa, I had availed the visa on arrival in Dubai.
I also traveled to Turkey with an electronic visa. Since I had a US Visa, I did not need a sticker visa for Turkey. I am planning to visit more countries once the pandemic is over.
Here are some popular countries where you can travel as an Indian citizen with US visitor visa.