On the road to immigration, there is one step that people tend to have the most concern: the interview. It is intimidating, inconvenient, and could cost you your visa. If you’ve been scheduled for an O1 visa interview, then here are some tips you should take to heart as your appointment date approaches.
O1 Visa Background
If you’re interested in an O-1 visa but are concerned about the interview, here is a brief overview of the visa requirements. You will need to keep these requirements in mind as the interview questions will undoubtedly pertain to them.
The O1 is a prestigious visa class reserved for individuals with extraordinary ability. Depending on the field of your extraordinary ability, you may qualify for one of the two O1 categories:
O-1A: for people who can demonstrate extraordinary ability in the fields of business, science, education, or athletics.
O-1B: for those who possess extraordinary ability in the arts, television, or film.
There is a long list of possible evidence that can be used to prove your extraordinary ability. This can be in the form of international awards, membership in prestigious organizations, critical acclaim, or a high salary.
The reason for this overview is because the consular officer will likely explore your eligibility as an extraordinary individual during the O1 visa interview.
Why Would You Need to Have an Interview?
For those that are applying for the O1 visa from inside the U.S. (i.e. transferring from another nonimmigrant visa class), you will not need to go through an O1 visa interview. In fact, there is a good chance that you’ve already been through a consular interview for the visa that you used to enter the country.
The interview is only for those that are outside the U.S. at the time of their petition’s approval. These applicants will need to go through consular processing, meaning that they will need to fill out a DS-160 online nonimmigrant application and bring it to a U.S. consulate or embassy in their home country.
Most applicants will need to schedule and participate in a one-on-one interview with a consular officer. However, for O1 visa applicants, the interview requirement varies. You may or may not be selected for an interview. It is not known exactly how the Department of State chooses who is required to appear for an interview, but cases without rock solid evidence proving that the individual is qualified for an O1 may be targeted.
In any case, it pays to be prepared for your interview. In the rest of this article, we’ll equip you with the knowledge you need to know what to expect in your interview. However, only an immigration attorney can help you be truly prepared.
What To Bring to Your O1 Visa Interview
Here are the O1 visa interview documents that you will need to bring to the U.S. consulate or embassy:
- The printed confirmation page of your DS-160 application
- Your interview appointment letter
- A valid passport that will be valid for at least 6 months after your intended period of stay in the U.S.
- A photograph according to the Department of State guidelines
- The I-797 Approval Notice from the USCIS
- The printed receipt for the Machine Readable Visa (MRV) fee
Take these documents to the U.S. consulate or embassy on your appointment date and pay any unpaid fees. Your biometrics will be taken (i.e. fingerprints) and you will be called for your O1 visa interview, which can take as little as 20 minutes. If the interview is successful, then your visa will be put into your passport and you will be able to travel to the U.S. as an O1 visa holder.
Depending on your case, you may need to take supplementary documents such as degrees or letters of recommendation to your interview. Work alongside your immigration attorney to determine exactly which O1 visa interview documents you need to bring.
Sample Interview Questions
Remember that the purpose of your O1 visa interview is to make sure that your identity is correct and that you are fully qualified for the visa. The officer will ask you simple questions about you personally as well as questions about your job in the U.S. and your background. Just because the USCIS approved your petition does not mean that the consular officer cannot deny your visa at the interview.
The idea is to answer each question clearly, honestly, and without hesitation. This will help the officer determine that your case is not fraudulent and that you will be an asset to the U.S. upon arrival.
Here are some sample questions that you may expect to receive during your O1 visa interview:
- What is your name?
- What company/organization do you work for?
- Have you ever been to the U.S. before? If so, when?
- Are you planning on returning to your home country?
- How long have you been working in your field?
- How long have you worked for your employer?
- How did you first get in contact with your employer?
- Currently, what is your salary?
- What work have you done for your employer in the past?
- What work will you be doing in the U.S.?
- How long do you plan on staying in the U.S.?
- Where will you be living while in the U.S.?
- Have you ever been convicted of a crime? If so, what was the crime?
- Why do you need to be in the U.S. to fulfill your goal?
- What qualifications do you have to fill the position?
Keep in mind that this is by no means an exhaustive list. Your consular officer may ask you many questions that are not on this list or may not ask you the above questions at all. This list is only to give you an idea of what to expect at your O1 visa interview. To get a better understanding of the questions you may be asked pertaining to your particular case, speak with your immigration attorney.
U.S. Embassy Seach
You can find the U.S. consulate or embassy for your O1 visa interview on this list of embassies provided by the official government website.