For those who are wondering about the US visa application process and how to get a US visa, we have prepared an article that can help those who will get a US visa for the first time so that you can read everything about the US visa, the whole process, our observations and experiences, I hope it will be useful.
The 10-year visa sounded tempting and we thought that we would escape from time to time. At the first opportunity we had, we started preparations to apply for a US tourist visa. We didn’t know the date we were going, nor where we were going.
What is an American visa?
An American visa is the type of visa we need to travel to America and enter the USA. We are talking about the country known as the United States of America, which includes cities such as New York, Texas, Miami and Los Angeles. Not the American continent. Citizens of the Republic of Turkey cannot enter the United States unless they obtain an American visa. There are different types of visas for the USA. There are different types such as student visa, exchange program visa, vocational training visa and work visa. But in this article we will talk about the tourist visa for the USA. This is a B1/B2 coded tourist or business visit visa.
What are the documents required for an American tourist visa?
The documents required for a tourist visa B1 B2 visa are not as comprehensive as a Schengen visa. We will divide them into two groups as the documents that you must take and the documents that are beneficial for you to take.
Photo for an American visa: You go to a photographer and tell them that you want to have your photo taken for an American visa. Then you give yourself to the photographer. Photographers know what size and how an American visa photo should look like. After you have the photo taken, you receive a digital copy. You will need this digital file to upload to the online form for the US visa. You should also have a printout of the same photo to take to the interview.
Since we have a small studio and a camera, we did not go to a photographer. We wanted to take the photos ourselves, saying that any photo is permissible as long as we comply with the conditions and requirements. Maybe we took a little risk with the photography. But we pocketed about 100TL for two people. The background must be white or close to white. After taking the photo, we placed the photo using the template on their official site. If you want to take a photo at home with your own means, check out the article titled America Visa Photo at Home.
Let’s talk about the US visa photo dimensions and features for those who want technical details. The size of the photo should be 51x51mm (2x2inch) and the width and height should be 600px. This means 300dpi. After a few Photoshop interventions, if everything is ok, we first saved it as *.jpg, then printed it from any blueprint that can print on photo paper in the same dimensions. It cost 3TL to print. You can see the required photo specifications in detail at state.gov with sample photos.
How to fill out the DS-160 US visa form?
After taking care of the photo part, you need to fill out an online form. You are facing the longest form that can be filled out to obtain a tourist visa. The DS-160 visa form is a type of form that you need to fill out before you make an appointment for an American tourist visa. It is also called a Nonimmigrant Visa, or a temporary US visa. You must fill out this form correctly and completely. To fill out the DS-160 visa form, first go to state.gov/genniv, select your city, enter the security code and click Start An Application. The system will give you a number during your application. Write this number down, because it is important.
What should we pay attention to when filling out the DS-160 visa form?
When filling out the visa form online, you can also save it and continue on the following days. The system allows you to save on your computer the contents of the form as you fill it in as a *.dat extension. When you want to continue filling it in, you can upload the same file and continue where you left off, even if you are on another computer. But check that the number you are given is the same each time.
During the form, you are asked to enter your accommodation in the United States. In this case, you need to make a reservation at a hotel. Just like when you get a Schengen visa, you can make a temporary reservation with a cancellation option. You are asked to enter basic information about this hotel such as name and address. Even if you know someone, showing the hotel seems to be the ideal way to avoid extra questions during the interview.
If you are going to make a tourist trip to America, you need to choose the tourist visa option in the B1 B2 category.
Remember to save the form once in a while while filling it out. If you do not use the system for a long time or if it kicks you out somehow, you can continue where you left off. Otherwise you will have to fill in the whole form again. When you reach the end of this form, it means that you have completed most of your visa application process. The form is in English, but if you select the Select Tooltip Language option at the top right, when you hover your mouse over the English text, a box will appear where you can see the Turkish explanations. When you get to the last stage of the form, you can go back to previous pages and make changes, but once you give your approval at the last stage, you will not be able to go back and edit it again. Therefore, you need to fill out the form with great care. Once you have successfully completed the visa form, take a printout of your application document.
How to make an appointment for an American visa?
How to apply for an American visa? The next step after completing the DS-160 form is to make an appointment at the US consulate. To make an appointment, first go to ais.usvisa-info.com/en-tr/niv and click on the Apply link. Then select the option indicating that you have completed the DS-160 form and click Continue. After this step, you will create a membership. After entering your membership information, you will need to enter the code given to you when filling out the DS-160 form. Since you will receive a tourist visa to the US, you need to select B2 in the visa type section. With Create Applicant, you now have an account for your US visa.
How much is the US visa application fee?
The US visa application fee is USD 160. The easiest way to pay the fee is online, by credit card. After you create your account, you will be presented with a page that allows you to pay by credit card, and you can follow the instructions and make the payment. You need to pay the US visa application fee without going to the consulate. There is nothing like paying at the consulate.
If you make the payment online, the approval of the appointment system will be faster and you will be able to set the appointment day and time. The availability of appointment days varies according to the period. When we applied for a US visa, the most available day was 40 days later.
What are the documents required for a US visa?
I will try to explain the documents that need to be collected for the US visa one by one as much as I can.
Photo: As we mentioned above, you need to have a photo taken first. You cannot complete the form without a photo. After having the photo taken, take one photo with you to your consulate appointment.
DS-160 form approval document printout: Again, as mentioned above, take a printout of the approval document at the end of the form we filled out.
Visa fee receipt: Take a printout of the receipt of the payment we made during the US visa application and add it to the documents to be taken with you.
Passport: Take the passport you are using and your old passport, if you have one.
If you work at a workplace, that is, if you are an employee, you can also take documents such as payroll, social security statement, tax certificate, trade registry gazette, signature circular, certificate of activity, petition from your company stating that you will travel for touristic purposes for a certain period of time and that you will continue to work within the company after your return, photocopy of car license, hotel reservation printout, house deed, bank account statement, marriage family certificate if you are married. These documents are not required or requested by the consulate. But in case they ask, it may be advantageous to take these documents to prove the information in the form you filled out. Some do not even look at these documents. You may only need them to convince them to return to the country and to reassure them that you are not a fugitive.
Where is the American Consulate and how to get there?
The Consulate General of the United States of America is located on the European Side, on the Kaplıcalar Street in İstinye. You can find it on the map under the name Consulate General of America Istanbul. Address: Istinye Mahallesi, Poligon Cd. No:75, 34460 Sarıyer/İstanbul
How to get to the Consulate General of the United States by bus?
You can use the 22 numbered İstinye Dereiçi – Kabataş buses coming from the direction of Kabataş, Akaretler, 29T line from Sarıyer, 29Ş İstinye Şişli line to go to the consulate from Mecidiyeköy and Şişli, 40T Taksim İstinye line to reach the US consulate from Taksim. The closest bus stop to the consulate is Kaplıcalar stop and all of these buses pass there. You can walk 150 meters from Kaplıcalar stop to the entrance of the building. The fastest and most practical way to get to the American Consulate from Kadıköy is to take the ferry to Beşiktaş and use the buses passing through Beşiktaş. The fastest way to get to the American Consulate from Atatürk Airport is to take the bus to Mecidiyeköy or Zincirlikuyu.
How to get to the US Consulate General by car?
It is possible to go to the Consulate General with your private car without dealing with public transportation. We went by car. If you go by car, there are several options where you can park your car.
There is a car wash just above the consulate, on the right side. You give your car like a valet, they take the car somewhere and park it. I don’t know how much it costs.
If you can find a space in the surrounding streets, you can park yourself. You need to walk around a bit and look for a place. Since I don’t know the neighborhood, it is useful to have someone in the car. We found a space 120 meters below the consulate, luckily someone came out.
The other side of Sarıyer Street next to the consulate is CarrefourSA. There is a large parking lot, you can park your car there or there is Migros and its parking lot nearby, you can try your luck.
What happened on the day of the appointment?
Phase 1 – Preparation for the entrance: First of all, you are not allowed to bring in any technological devices such as phones, headphones or sharp objects. If you have a friend with you who is not allowed to enter, you can hand them over to them, leave them in the car or deliver them to the cafes across the consulate for a fee. Backpacks are not prohibited, as long as they do not contain any prohibited objects. The pawnshop cafes also have a sign in their windows saying that they will take your luggage for 5TL, but the shop in red at the bottom asked for 9TL for the key and license, according to whatever they calculate. They put them in a bag and keep them. We paid 11TL for 1 toast and 2 teas.
Stage 2 – Entry to the consulate grounds/yard: The next stage is the first entrance to the consulate. Be at this gate half an hour before your appointment time. They put the people in front of the gate in a single line, let you in one by one, ask you if you have any technological items on you and do a first body search. Then you are directed to another line. Pay attention to the officials, because each one of them is guiding you about what the next step is and what to do next.
Stage 3 – Passport and photo check. At this point, an officer comes up to you and asks to see your passports and the photo you brought with you. Thus, they match the photo, passport and you. Those who do not have a photo are taken out of the line and sent to the cafes across the street to have their photos taken. Then you hand your passport to another official who scans it on a device and directs you to the next step.
Step 4 – Security and xray machine: This is the first place you enter the consulate building. There is a check just like at the airports. The security guard looks everyone in the face and says good morning one by one. You take off your coats and place them in a box and your documents are in this box. As this box goes through the xray machine, you also go through the xray. If there is no problem, you go through the heavy doors that are hard to push and continue on your way to the elevator.
Stage 5 – Visa room: You take the elevator to the visa interview floor and enter the room where visa interviews are held. The first officer here asks you for your passport and the paper called Visa Confirmation. He checks your appointment and whether the appointment codes match. It is very important that you write down the code you were given when you filled out the DS-160 form and that you write this code on subsequent forms. If there is a match, you are given a code and you go to the queue.
Stage 6 – Fingerprint and visa process: The square-shaped room functions like a small bank. You can think of it as having seating areas in the center and about 10 tellers on one side of the room. It is big enough for everyone to hear everyone else. You enter one of the first three tellers. You are greeted by a woman who says “Welcome” in an energetic voice and asks you to hand over your passports. After a few seconds you get your passport and go to the fingerprint line. There is an attendant walking around all the time, ready to help you if you get stuck or don’t understand something. The 4th and 5th tellers are used for fingerprinting. When it’s your turn, they take your fingerprints on the left four, right four and both thumbs in turn, using a fingerprint device. This process is also a quick process. Then you wait for your turn for the interview.
Everything becomes clear at this stage. You witness dozens of data until it is your turn. You see people who are rejected in 20 seconds, who cannot finish the interview in 5 minutes, you hear the questions and answers. For example, an elderly aunt, probably a non-Turkish woman who did not speak Turkish or English, was taken out when she insisted on staying. She had somehow applied for a US visa and hoped to get one.
We applied as a couple under the name of family visa. While those who applied individually entered the counters one by one, we both entered at the same time and took care of our business at the same time. It was our turn. We left our coats on the couches and went to the counter where our number was called. There was a young American man speaking Turkish with an American accent. Although he spoke well, it was difficult to understand what he was saying, and he was a man who knew how to put us under pressure with his gaze. After each answer, he would look at us with his serious gaze for a while and then move on to the next question with an attitude of disbelief.
Questions and answers in the US visa interview
G: Can I have the passports?
(We handed him both passports. He opened the passports, made a few transactions, scanned the passport number. He looked at the other visas in the passports).
G: Why are you going to America?
B: For touristic purposes.
G: Are you married?
B: We are married.
G: Have you traveled abroad together before?
B: Yes, we have. Belgium, Holland, Austria (We counted about 10 countries.)
G: What do you do for a living?
B: (Taking turns) I am an administrative assistant. I am also a freelance designer and photographer.
G: (She typed two sentences into the computer.) Your visa has been approved.
The officer’s decision to grant you the visa depends on certain criteria. When you fill out the DS-160 form, they are probably looking to see if you fall under their risk profile for a US visa. Being unemployed, having a low salary, not having money or things like that may not be a direct reason for rejection. They look at the characteristics that you have and come up with a conclusion. And that’s either you can come to America or you can’t come to America.
During the interview, the officer will also look at your consistency and honesty and will probably give you a predetermined conclusion. You need to be relaxed, but not nonchalant. Dress neatly, like in a shirt. Don’t look sloppy. The officer did not ask us if we preferred to speak English or Turkish. He didn’t even look at any of our documents. But if he was suspicious, he could have asked to see our documents. He could have asked for a bank statement, for example, to see if we had money. Don’t prolong your conversation, answer briefly what is being asked. Do not drown in details.
How does the process work after the US visa interview?
If your visa is not approved, your passport is returned with a paper explaining why it was not approved. If your visa is approved, they keep the passport. Then you leave the building. When we looked at our entry and exit times, everything took exactly 1 hour.
During the day, the procedures are initiated to be shipped to the PTT that you specified when filling out the form. You receive a PTT cargo tracking number on your cell phone and wait for your passport to arrive at the branch. After the meeting we had on Friday, the passport arrived at PTT on Monday. We went and got our passports. As a result, they gave us both a 10-year visa.