UPDATE: Kindly post all your US Visa related questions on our US Visa – Question & Answer section and we will respond to your questions asap.
Let me give you a breakdown of all you need to know, and how to package your supporting documents before going to apply for a US non-immigrant visa. I will focus on Study and Tourist visas as these are the most common type of visas Nigerians apply for.
Travelling to the US as a tourist means that you want to visit the country temporarily for pleasure or to visit friends and families. The visa is usually referred to as a B2 visitors visa. For study, as the name implies, is when you are going to study in an institution in the US. This category is called the F1 visa.
The consular officers presumes that every applicant is a suspect and want to elude to the US, you have to prove to them that you qualify to visit/study in the United States of America and you plan to return to your home country within the speculated period of time.
First, if you are sure and ready to apply for a US visit/study visa, you will have to pay the visa fees at any GTBank branch in Nigeria or online. There is a receipt number that will be generated and will be needed during the application process. The fees are on the website and the amount is different for each type of visa.
Kindly make sure you have your international passport, Receipt number of the visa fees paid at GTBank, travel itinerary, details of your travel experiences, contact information of your friend or family in the US (if any), details of your current job (if employed) and educational qualifications.
The first step in the visa application process is filling an online form called DS-160. It is a non-immigrant visa electronic application form that is required to be filled and submitted as part of the application requirement. To begin your visa application, click here.
While on the visa application page, you can begin your visa application by selecting your location where you want to schedule your visa interview appointment, then click on “Start A New Application” button. An application ID (both numbers and letters) will be shown at the top right-hand corner of the page, kindly, write it down somewhere because when going back to fill in the application form, the ID will be requested to continue the application. Make sure you save every step of the form as well, just incase the browser closes unexpectedly. When you have finished answering the questions on the form, it will take you a preview of all the details filled in, to enable you confirm all the information you have filled, if they are correct or not. After confirmation, click on the “Sign Application” button and your form is submitted. You would be directed to a confirmation page which will include your application details and a barcode. Save and print this page.
After the form has been filled and you have your confirmation saved. The next step is to schedule an appointment. Remember to apply early at least three months before your intended date of travel, sometimes the next available date to schedule an appointment from the day you made the application can be within 30 – 60days.
Before scheduling an appointment, You have to create an account with your details as shown above, to be able to go further with your application. After you have created your account and logged in, there are steps you need to follow as you proceed under ‘New Application/Schedule Appointment section’, fill in the correct information as you go through the steps, at this stage, the receipt number of your visa fee will be required to complete the process. Upon completion of the steps, your appointment for the visa application interview will be scheduled. Also make sure that the DS-160 non-immigrant visa application confirmation number used to schedule visa interviews must match the application confirmation page that will be brought to the embassy on the day of your interview.
The most important part is gathering the supporting documents to back up your application. Listed below are the required documents for both study and visit visa application:
- Be sure your International Passport is valid for at least six months.
- A 2*2 Passport photograph on a white background is required. Do not listen to the photographers hanging around the embassy because some of them give you wrong information. You can use their service and after which, collect your passport photograph and rush to the embassy. Some of these photographers will tell you to staple the passport to your confirmation page, please don’t, that is wrong. *Do not gum or staple your passport photograph to the form before the interview*.
- A receipt showing the payment of your visa fee.
- Proof of Accommodation: You will have to make hotel reservation online. Your check-in must be the same with your date of arrival. If you will be staying with a friend or family, the person should send a letter stating that you will be staying with him/her for the duration of your stay in the US and back it up with a proof that he/she owns an apartment.
- Proof of income: If you are sponsoring your trip, then you have to include your bank statements and pay slips (for workers) for the past three months. The statement of account doesn’t have to show millions of naira to prove that you can sponsor your trip. An amount that can cover your travel cost is what is needed, and then the cash inflow and outflow on your statement of account also matters. Some people make the mistake of depositing a huge sum of money into their bank account a month prior to the application. It is not advisable to do so as it can result to questions that you would not expect. Even if you have to, make sure you spread the payments on different occasions and maybe use different names for each deposit (preferably names of your family with same surname), just to show on the statement that your family can support you financially.
For students, the bank statement should display the amount that will cover all costs for at least one year of studies.
If someone else is sponsoring you, then you have to provide an attestation from the sponsor stating that he/she is covering all costs for your trip in addition to the sponsor’s bank statement.
- Travel Itinerary: This is a document showing your flight information. You are not required to make any flight payments before your scheduled appointment at the embassy, because you are not sure of what the outcome will be at the end of the interview. Even your flight reservation expires before the appointment date, it doesn’t matter. Always book a return ticket and not a one-way ticket.
- A letter from your employer stating that you are a staff of the company, stating the dates you will be on leave to show you will be free to travel at the time specified for your trip and any other relevant information. It should be written on the company’s letter headed paper, signed and sealed.
If you are self employed with a registered company then you have to include your company certificate of incorporation.
If you are a student, you have to include a letter from your university stating you are registered and on holidays at the time
specified for your trip. You can also include you student ID card.
- If a friend or family is inviting you, the invitee will have to send;
An invitation letter stating your relationship with them and also indicate if they will be hosting you throughout your stay in the US and any other relevant information,
A copy of the invitee’s biodata page if he/she is a US passport holder. If the invitee still uses a Nigerian passport;
A copy of his/her biodata page and resident status,
Proof of accommodation in the US,
And Bank statements, if the invitee is sponsoring your trip.
For students only:
- An approved Form I-20 from the university in US.
- A Form I-901 SEVIS fee receipt indicating the SEVIS fee has been paid. The payment is made on the SEVIS website. Click on this link.
For more information on study visa requirements, Kindly visit this link.
Drop your questions in the comment section below and I will respond accordingly. Any useful suggestions should also be dropped at the comment section.