Points to keep in mind
It’s Not Luck
Despite what some people might tell you, luck has nothing to do with whether or not you receive a nonimmigrant visa. Consular officers base their decisions solely on the law, the regulations and Department of State policy.
The Importance of the Interview and Application Forms
The personal interview with the consular officer (if one is required) and the information that the applicant provides in writing on the application forms are critical elements of the visa process. As a result of the large number of people applying for visas each day, the interviews are often short. It is essential that the visa applicant be able to describe a clear, coherent travel plan and provide accurate answers to all written and oral questions. Inconsistent, inaccurate or unrealistic answers make it difficult for the consular officer to conclude that the proposed trip is temporary in nature, or that the applicant is otherwise qualified for a visa.
A Word of Caution
The consequences of fraud are extremely serious. Not only will you run the risk of permanently losing your chance to travel to the United States, you may also be subject to criminal penalties. Form DS-160 (Nonimmigrant Visa Application) contains the following certification that the applicant must digitally sign:
- “I certify under penalty of perjury under the laws of the United States of America that the foregoing is true and correct.”
If you have information concerning fraud that you wish to share with the Consular Section, please e-mail the Fraud Prevention Unit at FPMBogota@state.gov
The personal interview with a Consular Officer
The personal interview with a consular officer and the information that the applicant provides in writing on the online DS 160 application form are critical elements of the visa process. As a result of the large number of people applying for visas each day, the interviews are often short.
It is essential that the visa applicant be able to describe a clear, coherent travel plan and provide accurate answers to all written and oral questions. Inconsistent, inaccurate or unrealistic answers make it difficult for the consular officer to conclude that the proposed trip is temporary in nature, or that the applicant is otherwise qualified for a visa.
Please be aware of the following when you come to your appointment:
Arrival at the Embassy
Please arrive at the Embassy at the time of your scheduled appointment and no sooner. Applicants who arrive late will not be admitted and will have to contact the CSC Visa Information Center to request a new interview date.
We do not permit third parties to attend non-immigrant visa interviews. This rule also applies to third parties who are U.S. Citizens or Lawful Permanent Residents. Only the visa applicant will be admitted, unless the applicant is a minor or senior citizen. Minors may only be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian. On a case-by-case basis, the Embassy will allow visa applicants with disabilities or other special needs to be accompanied. You will be screened by security personnel before entry. Certain items are not permitted inside the Visa Waiting Area.
On the day of your interview, you will pass through 3 stations:
- Application Processing (where your application and required documents will be reviewed)
- Verification of fingerprints
- The Interview with the Consular Officer *
* Interpreters: an applicant may bring one interpreter if he or she does not speak English or Spanish well enough to participate unassisted in the visa interview.
After the Interview
If your visa application is approved…
You will receive an email with additional information in the next few weeks. Your passport will be delivered to the DHL location you selected when you made your appointment through the CSC Visa Information Service. Please bring your official identification and DHL Waybill number in order to pick it up.
In the event there is an emergency or other compelling reason that you must travel immediately, you may ask the consular officer during your interview to expedite the delivery process.
Note: Passports (with visa) must be claimed from DHL within 30 days of delivery.
If your visa application is still pending…
If your case was refused under a “221 (g)” of the Immigration and Nationality Act for more information, administrative processing, or a decision on a waiver of an ineligibility, it could take significantly more time for you to receive your passport and visa – on average 90 additional business days. You may check the status of your application online by following the instructions on the Visa Application Status page. No further information is necessary unless you are contacted by an Embassy representative.
If your visa application is refused…
If your visa was refused, you will receive your passport back on the day of the interview with a written explanation of the reason for refusal. If your visa has been denied, you may find useful information on Ineligibilities and Waivers on usvisas.state.gov.
The majority of nonimmigrant visa refusals are made under Section 214(b) of the Immigration and Nationality Act. Section 214(b), which applies to all B-1/B-2 applicants (as well as to applicants for many other nonimmigrant visa classifications), presumes that an applicant is an intending immigrant and places the burden on the applicant to convince the consular officer of the contrary. If the applicant fails to convince the consular officer, the law requires the consular officer to deny the visa.
Applicants overcome the intending immigrant presumption of Section 214(b) by showing that their overall circumstances, including social, family, economic and other ties to Colombia, will compel them to leave the United States at the end of a temporary visit. “Ties” are the various aspects of life that bind the applicant to Colombia, such as his or her family relationships, employment and possessions. Because each applicant’s situation is different, there is no single factor that demonstrates compelling ties to Colombia.
The most common reason an applicant fails to qualify is a failure to show the sufficient ties to his or her home country; there are, however, other reasons why an applicant could fail to qualify for NIV status and thus be found inadmissible under 214(b). The applicant must prove that he or she meets the standards required by the particular visa classification for which he or she is applying. In other words, the applicant must make a credible showing that all activities in which the applicant is expected to engage while in the United States are consistent with the claimed nonimmigrant status.
A visa denial under Section 214(b) is not permanent. Visa seekers may reapply for a visa at any time by following the instructions in the How to Apply for a Visa page. However, we recommend that they do so only if they believe that they will be able to show that they are eligible for the visa based on the guidance provided above. That is, we recommend against reapplying unless the applicant’s family, professional or economic situation has changed sufficiently to warrant a change in the consular officer’s decision.
Traveling to the U.S.
A U.S. non-immigrant visa gives you permission to travel to the United States, but does not guarantee your entrance nor determine the length of time you will be allowed to stay. When you arrive to the U.S., an immigration officer from U.S. Customs and Border Protection of the Department of Homeland Security makes the decision as to whether or not to admit you into the United States and how long you may stay.
The officer will review your passport, visa and capture your photo and fingerprints. If you are approved for entry, you will be directed to the baggage and customs inspection areas to collect your luggage.
In most cases, CBP will no longer process the paper form upon arrival. Instead, travelers will be provided with a CBP admission stamp in their travel document. If you have further questions regarding this new system, please consult the Department of Homeland Security website: www.cbp.gov/I94.