In another article, I described how your visa petition is prepared and filed with USCIS. In this article, I describe another important part of the visa application process: the consular interview. The consular interview takes place after your petition has been approved. Not all O-1 visa applicants will need to go through the consular interview process. If you are already in United States on a different visa when your O-1 petition is approved, your O-1 visa will simply be granted to you. There is nothing else you need to do. If, on the other hand, you are residing outside the United States, you will need to go to the local U.S. consulate or embassy for an interview.
The purpose of the consular interview is to make sure that you are who you say you are, and to ensure that there is nothing in your history that would disqualify you for a visa. Remember, at this point in the process, USCIS has already approved your visa. The interview is the government’s final opportunity to make sure that all the information in your application is true and accurate, before officially issuing you the visa.
You will begin the interview process by making an appointment with the consulate. On the day of the interview, you will arrive at the consulate and pay fees, if you haven’t already. You will then have your fingerprints taken and speak with a consular officer, who will conduct the interview. You will need to present the officer with a copy of your visa application and the letter you received from USCIS stating that your visa was approved, as well as any other forms that may be required. The officer will then go through all the paperwork and documents and ask you some questions. Some of the questions may be about your artistic work that qualified you for the visa. These questions are not meant to judge your extraordinary ability, but simply to make sure you are who you say you are. Once the interview is complete, your visa will be inserted into your passport.
If you are like many people, the thought of being interviewed in such an official way, and with such high stakes, makes you nervous. This is completely understandable. I can reassure you that your attorney will make sure you are well prepared. You and your attorney will go over the kinds of questions you will be asked and the best way to answer them.