Applying for U.S. visa? Make note of the changes
Posted on September 10, 2014
Got a question about U.S. visas? The U.S. Embassy in Colombo, in collaboration with The Sunday Times is launching a fortnightly column “Ask the Consul” for all those who want to go the United States. Whether you are a tourist, student, businessman, skilled worker or just hoping to learn more about the Diversity Lottery, an American consular officer will help guide you and dispel any myths about the U.S. visa laws and application procedures.
Watch this space! The Sunday Times and the U.S. Embassy will select the best questions and publish answers starting today, September 7, 2014, and once every two weeks thereafter.
To submit your question, simply email your questions to AskTheConsulSL@state.gov
Starting this week there are important changes to how people will apply for U.S. visas.
1. I’ve heard that there are some changes to the visa application process. How do I apply for a U.S. visa now?
There will be several changes to the visa process beginning today, September 7, 2014. The new, mostly online process is designed to be more convenient and user-friendly and has been implemented at U.S. embassies worldwide.
First, there will be a free telephone helpline that substantially expands available hours for applicants to obtain information regarding visas and the scheduling process. This Call Center service will be provided in English, Sinhala, and Tamil and will be available from Monday-Friday, 8:00am-8:00pm (local time) starting tomorrow, September 8, 2014.
Second, applicants will now pay the application fee before they schedule a visa appointment. Applicants will pay the fee at any DFCC bank location. For your convenience, DFCC has more than 130 locations around Sri Lanka. There is also no additional charge for this service. Finally, after receiving a payment receipt from the bank, applicants will schedule their visa appointments at www.ustraveldocs.com/lk.
2. So how is the new process better?
The new system allows applicants to make their own visa appointments online from home or work, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Through the free Call Center, they can also get their own personalized visa application specialist who can walk applicants through the process. Again, there is also no fee for scheduling an appointment online. Furthermore, we understand that due to any number of reasons applicants often have to make changes to their travel plans. The new system also allows applicants greater flexibility for rescheduling and cancellations.
Applicant can find information about the new scheduling process, along with a link to the new scheduling website, on the U.S. Embassy website at http://srilanka.usembassy.gov.
3. What if the applicant does not have Internet access?
Although the new visa appointment system is now online, using the Internet has been a part of the U.S. visa process for several years already. The previous visa application process required all applicants to complete the visa application form (called the DS-160 form) online before scheduling their interviews. That part of the process is not changing. As with previous application procedures, applicants who do not have Internet access can obtain assistance to complete this process from family, friends or from a trusted travel facilitator.
4. I’m considering taking a vacation next year in the United States. Will this change the type of documents I should bring to the interview?
No, the new application procedures will only affect the scheduling of the interview. This change will not impact the interview with the consular officer at the Embassy. Applicants are encouraged to bring documents to the interview that help demonstrate that they are well established in Sri Lanka and that support their intent to return after a short visit to the United States. Here is a list of documents that may be asked for during the interview:
Bank statements going back six months (Bank letters are of little value)
If applicable, proof of legal status of friends or relatives in the United States
Proof of relationships (birth certificate, marriage certificate, photographs)
Proof of employment and salary slips
If applicant is an employer, EPF for employees
September 07, 2014