Update 2018: After 7 years of travelling the world – 5 of those without a home or permanent address – I’ve written a book about my journey! “The Shooting Star” charts my journey from the cubicle to the road and from small-town India to remote corners of the globe. Published by Penguin, the book is now available on Amazon and Flipkart.
So many myths surround the much sought after US Visa in India that I just have to bust them. I applied for mine shortly before my 6-month trip to Central America, New York and California, and was pleasantly surprised by how easy the process was. I walked away with a 10-year B1 tourist visa, which also gives me ‘visa on arrival’ access to many other countries!
The visa application process is long drawn, but if you are prepared with the right documents and a bit of patience, it is not nearly as difficult as many make it to be. Here are my tips to help you enter the promised land:
1) The US Visa Forms and Fee
Select your location within India and start your application on the US Consular Electronic Application Centre website. You need to fill the DS-160 visa form (make sure you don’t leave any section unanswered), sign it electronically, upload a passport-size photo and submit it. You will have a fixed period of time (usually 48 hours) to pay your visa fee via internet banking or bank transfer, into an Indian bank account. The US tourist visa fee for Indians is 160$ (roughly INR 9,900); the exact amount will be calculated automatically based on recent exchange rate and given to you at the end of your application.
Make sure you print your DS-160 confirmation page with the barcode, and keep it safely right until your trip to the US.
2) Appointment One: Fingerprinting and Photographs
The good part about a US visa application is that you don’t have to show confirmed flight and hotel bookings – the way you must for most other countries. The painful part, however, is that you have to make yourself available in person, TWICE. Check appointment wait times here based on your location, and book both your appointments right after submitting your forms, especially if you have to travel to the nearest big city for these.
The first appointment is at VFS USA, where your fingerprints are scanned and your photograph is taken. The process takes less than five minutes, and it’s better to show up a little earlier than your given time slot, since it’s on a first-come first-serve basis.
3) Appointment Two: The Visa Interview
The second and more crucial appointment is the visa interview. You must arrive earlier than your given time slot and be prepared to wait on the benches outside (it was an hour before I finally had my turn). Remember that phones, electronic devices and bags are not allowed to be taken in – carry only your forms along, and a book to keep your entertained.
Applicants are sent inside for the interview in batches, which itself takes only a few minutes. The immigration officer is likely to ask you about your invitation letter if you have one, your purpose of visit, how you’ll fund your trip, and how long you plan to travel for. Answer truthfully and confidently.
The result of your visa application is told to you by the immigration officer there and then!
4) Supporting Documents
Unlike other visa applications, the US embassy does not ask to see confirmed bookings or other documents during the process. However, these can be asked for incase of additional screening. To be on the safe side, I carried along an invitation letter from my brother who lives in the US, a copy of his employment visa and passport, my bank statements, resume and a cover letter. Luckily, I wasn’t asked to produce any of these.
If you have a relative residing in the US, it can be extremely helpful to have an invitation letter, written by them, preferably on the letterhead of the company they work for, stating that you’ll be visiting and staying with them for a given period of time. Don’t worry if you can’t obtain one – the US embassy website states that it is not necessary to have an invitation letter, nor is that the decisive factor in being granted a visa.
5) Passport Collection
After a successful interview, it usually takes 2 working days for your passport to be ready for collection. While submitting the application form, you can choose to sign up for free SMS / email alerts and track the status online.
The passport needs to be collected at VFS USA, by submitting a photocopy of your passport or another valid Indian ID. Someone can collect it on your behalf with an authorization letter signed by you.
I hope that simplifies the US visa process for Indian passport holders. Even if you don’t plan to visit the US anytime soon, it is worth applying for a visa anyway, to get ‘visa on arrival’ access to most Central American countries, e-visa access to Turkey, entry into Georgia, and many more places you probably dream of visiting. I’m already using mine to its full potential!
Also read my tips on how to score a Canada Tourist Visa on an Indian passport and a Schengen visa to travel in Europe, and read whether it’s worth getting an E-visa for Georgia with the recent deporting of Indians at Tbilisi Airport.
Going to New York? See my experiential travel guide to NYC.
Got any other tips or experiences with an Indian passport and a US visa?
Join me on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram for more travel tips and stories.
[For more information about the US Visa Applications, please see US Visa FAQs on the US embassy website. If you have specific questions about the US visa process for Indians, you can find your nearest embassy here, and contact them by phone or email.]
Featured image by Arturo Donate.
Welcome to my blog, The Shooting Star. I’ve been called a storyteller, writer, photographer, digital nomad, instagrammer, social entrepreneur, solo traveller, vegan, sustainable tourism consultant and environmentalist. But in my heart, I’m just a girl who believes in the transformative power of travel.
Thanks Shivya, very detailed and informative tips. you are right lot of people told me that it is difficult etc…. all bullshit stories but, when I am reading your post I think it is very easy to get US visa. thanks once again for sharing these tips.
Glad you found this informational, Girish. All the best for your application!
hi shivya i want to apply for u.s tourist visa I m married i with my wife want to visit on tourist visa of u.s.a .please help me tell me the helpful topic
I thing you have good knowledge of us visa
Plz give me advice . I got marriage 1 month ago we want go us for Travel.
mam plss tell me we already aplied for US tourist visa me nd my husband..bt sm reason we refuse to get visa.could u plss tell me if we try again for the same perpuse then how much chances to approved visa
i want to know that m merried nd me nd my husband already aplyed visitor visa for US bt for sm reason we refuse to get visa..can uh tell me if we try again for same purpse then how much chances to approved visa..?
I want to apply b1 Visa it is difficult for get
Very useful information, Shivya.
Thanks a lot for sharing and hope you are having a great time 🙂
Reblogged this on Visa & Travel Experiences of an Indian.
Thanks for this, Shivya. I’ve always been apprehensive of the US Visa (for evident reasons) but this gives me the confidence to re-consider and apply.
This is quite helpful. Something I had on my mind.
Thanks for this, well if want to attend some crucial event so can I get visa for Canada in less than 10-14 working days??
My mom’s planning to visit the USA next month and this page is more informative than any other on the internet and all “visa agents” put together. Thank you, thank you.
Hi thanks for this information its help a lot.Can u please help us, my friend working in New Zealand and wants to take US tourist visa.He is an ndian passport holder . Thank you.
Hi there Shiya …
The article was good, and quite reliable than most of the sources on the internet, but not quite satisfying …. why not satisfying! because it was lesser detailed. For instance you didn’t mention that after filling up the DS-160 form, how much time does it take approximately till one’s called in for the visit to the concerned embassy.
but overall, it was a good note.
Greetings Shivya. I know I’m terribly late to the party, even so I just wanted to thank you for this truly inspirational article. Thank you for cutting through all the clutter and for bringing a positive, encouraging vibe to a topic most people have turned intimidating. The only thing more inspirational than the article was your personal story of how it all began. Stay strong, safe and pleasantly surprised, I wish you the very best in all of your travels. Peace, health and happiness.
shivya,i was looking for an suitable person to know abt the multi entry tourist visa to usa from india.will u advise me how to get that visa?.i just want to know also which is the best agency in india for this kind of processing.now i m in france.i will reach in india next year april.so how can i contact u.if u have any mobile number is that ok to u?.bye the way i m gonna check u in fb.by the way i like ur lifestyle.i think we will meet because m also like u …a traveller
In Sept 2014 i was applied for USA tourist visa obut got refusal , on that tym i have no job only small business of dog sale n purchase a am working in punjab police govt job.i m 25 years old and my annual income is 350000 and 5 lacs in my account for show money. Recently octuber 2015 i went Both Malaysia and Singapore on tourist visa so can i apply for USA tourist visa .
Malaysia n singapore wont help u man..just be truthful with embassy and they check any bank balance n all they just see ur confidence
Its very informative the way u have elaborated the visa application process..thanks.
Excellent Blog Shivya,
I Was searching for this information only since morning and luckily i found it on your blog.
Thanks a lot. You rock
Excellent and simple, I always thought applying for US visa is not that easy because people always say it’s a big deal, thanks Shivya to make things clear and easy, it really gives me confidence to go ahead.
Hello, shivya nath, i m paresh from india, gujarat, currently i live and working in dubai, on employment unlimited visa status i have done 2 years complete in dubai, but i want to apply for US visa so its posibble to get easily visa from embassy?
Hi Shiva thanks for the information. I have a USA friend. He send me an invitation to visit him. But my salary is very less and no bank balance to show my financial strength. But he said he will take care of all my expenses including staying. But my friends said I need to show a solid reason that I would come back to India. I am a bachelor. Pls help me with more information.
Very nice one & full of information.
I have a B1/B2 visa on my passport which is valid for 10 years and I have recently visited US for my office work. I just want to know that on this visa can I buy a flight ticket and just simply fly to USA for vacation without any invitation?
Yeah, it’s a tourist + business work visa, so you can fly in without invitation. It’s good to have some backup docs just in case – like employer’s NOC letter, invitation from a family member or a return ticket. That’s what I’ve been doing over the last few months.
I applied in 2008 for b1 visa but I rejected .. now again I am planning . It is possible once rejected then apply again . How long finger print in record . Again I approach. Or not .
Thanks for the information!.. Quite Helpful!
I have couple of questions, it would be great if you could help me:
1) What are documents required from a person who is inviting ?
2)What is the minimum fund / bank balance needed as a tourist?
Thanks in advance
This is great information put together in simple and easy to understand process …. thanks a lot for this Shivya…. and all the best on your travel 🙂
thanks for sharing . regards from South Sudan.
Hey shivya. Whatsup…. Ohhh hope u doing well. I always heard about a myth from many people that singles cant get this visa. coz visa officer think that he/she never comes back to their home country. Im 28 yrs old male from punjab. Thnx in advance for any suggestion that i really appericiate.
Hi information you provided is easy and quite helpful. I want to go US to get job, is it possible to get job while we are in tourist visa. I don’t have good bank balance, pls let me know.
Hi Subbu, I am sure you are very innocent. Work visa to any country in the world is ultra difficult except some Gulf States with the help of Agents. Incase you are planning to go to US or any other country, Pl don’t mention about the intention of work. Get the Visit Visa, visit the country, keep all the memories and Photos with you and while in the same country, just ask by the way like “Can some one sponsor you” for work in that country and come back safely. That’s the best one can do. Remember Only you can breath full in your own country and if you are lucky you can breath half in other countries only if you are on visit visa. All the best
Nice and interesting information and informative too. Can you pls let me know the good attraction places we can visit near Singapore.
Tourist Visa for Indian Citizens traveling to Singapore in just 5 working days. Apply online and get a 30 day Singapore Visa at just Rs 2300. http://visafromhome.com/singapore-visa/
It’s a right way for interview guys I’m so thankful to u I want to more knowledge
i have applied for U.S. visitor visa and I have PCC stemp of CANADA in my passport. is it create any trouble? My cousin sister sponsor my visa.
Hi Very Informative description, Just a small word here. The fees has gone upto 11 k INR , due to Currency hike- INR vis a vis US $.
Guys specially if you are from punjab ,donot apply tourist visa from delhi embassy
This is now money making making machine for them and they hardly accept any tourist visa.
My visa got rejected twice even though my brother lived there so donot waste your money and time
I am an Indian Citizen who got Canadian Student Visa. What might be the procedure to travel from Canada to USA?
I m working in Malaysia. I have Indian passport. Can i go US vist visa
Of course!!! definitely you can travel, Just apply directly or better, through the agent. In the interview, just be truthful about the info which the officer asks. That’s all. All the best
i have us visit visa still I’m in Us i wanna is it easy for me to get visit visa for european countries
Hello Shivya, I am sourabh from india. I want to leave my country and settle down in another country, From where i can start?
Pingback: Awesome Travel Resource for Indian Travelers - Hippie In Heels
Excellent and simple, I always thought applying for US visa is not that easy because people always say it’s a big deal, thanks Shivya to make things clear and easy, it really gives me confidence to go ahead.
Hi Shivya i have a doubt here
i am an Indian passport holder currently working in Italy
now i want to visit USA on tourist visa to see my sister and her family
so from where i should apply for visa is there any possibility that i can apply from Italy
Ajay Dora S
Having denied a B1(for work purpose) in July,2016, do you suggest, is it a good idea to apply for another B1(for tourism) in 2017?
Hi Shivya,I am Baljinder Singh I have us multiple visa holder.&I am visit two time in USA . My two kids 10 yr & 13 yr I was my kids apply visa last year but refused . So I want again apply can I get visa my kids
Thanks for the excellent information . Now I am confidant of applying visa to attend graduation day of my daughter.
Thank you god the great tips.
Is it harder for younger people to get American
Visas holding an Indian passport.
Good Day Shivya, i with my wife n my son are going to apply for usa tourist visa shortly, i am unsure as to what wud happen in the interview with the consular officer. What abt the applicant fee tht we pay for…if incase the application gets rejected for sum reason…do we get the monies back or is thr any othr interview set up for 2nd chance? Apology abt my doubt…aftr all its our hard earned monies…many thnx for ur detailed info…its highly appreciated. Cheers
The money won’t be given back and you won’t have a second chance… you have to pay again if you want another interview.
I thing you have good knowledge of USA visa.
Plz give me advice and help me with details . I want to attend marriage in march ‘2017 in U.S.A & we want go . we are 2 siblings and my mother who is sr citizen.
We stay in Mumbai.awaiting your reply asap.
Hi i ve got b1b2 and i m in u.s and i want to apply for canada tourist visa .so pls let me know about requirements.thanxx
This is such an informative posts. surely debunked a lot of myths for me. thank you
Hi Shivya, Its quite informative and details are complete. Thanks. I would like you inform your readers about the latest info about the US. Lot of us don’t get the first info. especially those of us about to apply for a visit visa.
It was very informative and positive anybody would feel like giving it a try whether you get it or not.
Could you please tell me when should I apply if I intend to travel by June. I heard it just takes 15 calendar days to process and fix up a schedule. Ie can I fill in early and take up an appointment for June?.
Please help me in this regard.
Please let me know if we can visit other countries based on US B1/B2(Business/Tourist) Visa
Thanks – Abhimanyu
I thing you have good knowledge of us multiple visa
Plz give me advice and help me with details
Hi um shivya, one of the first links that come up on google when searching for ‘US tourist visas for Indians’ is your blog link (Congratulations). But then the date of this blog is 2015 and apparently, a lot has changed since then as far as I have heard, is it possible for you to update the process now maybe from word of mouth from someone else? That would be so helpful especially since you have a lot of traffic anyway.
I just HAD to write in and tell you how very useful your article has been to me. I was applying for a US visa with my mom and one year old son and am delighted to say we’ve been granted our visas. Your article was so simple, yet informative. It cut through all the clutter and guided me through the entire process. It was the ONLY thing I really referred to, through my entire application process! Thanks😊. Hope you are enjoying your travels around the world!..
I am just planing to visit U.S but it is not confirmed.Can I still apply for the US visa ? What will be the procedure for that.
Hlo sir I got an offer for job from Siemens company USA and now they are asking me my passport, education certificate , filled job offer form and after they said that I have to pay my visa fees is it right or not . Because I came to know that visa is send by the company . Please suggest me asap
Hi Shivya, thanks for the article :). What is the rough number of days that are required after filling the application form to get the visa? Is it possible for process to be accelerated?
For fingerprinting we have to make ourselves available twice? So they can make toeprints too?:))
It’s sad they make you feel like criminal more than once, but I guess it’s the price of travel security today.
Thanks for all your help and information!:)
Will the visa (if one gets approved) be the 10 year tourist visa? If so, what should we answer when asked- “how long do you plan to visit” if we wish to volunteer for a month or so? This might be a silly question but i can’t help it.
Hi..i want to visit my friend in san francisco USA for 15-20 days. But i have heard that its difficult or rare chance for bachelors to get visa. I am 22yr old software engg. My dad will fund my trip and i am going alone. So is it difficult for me to get a tourist visa?
I had a query regarding interview. I want to go to US for 10-12 days only to surprise my boyfriend. But I am not telling any one in my family- also not informing my own brother has USA passport. Sort of secret meeting.
What should i tell the USA visa office then? Because I will have to mention i have a sibling.
Thank you in advance for your response.
Shiva, you are a wonderful girl with a golden heart to guide others. Continue good work.
Shiva thanks for the clear and precised info on US Visa Process. It was very helpful no doubt. All the best to you for all your travel plans.
Hi Shivya, Can you help me what kind of questions will be asked & documents one need to carry for USA visa interview if the person is a housewife accompanying her husband for his business trip?
Thanks in advance!
Thanks for this information Shivya. Helped a lot. I also wrote about the US visa process to clear the myths that surround the process.
Hi Shivya…Sincere thanks to you for all these informations..It is really useful. Have a grat time 🙂