Applying for a US Visa is not as hard as it seems. Picture: Pexels.

Obtaining a US Visa is not as hard as you think. Carrie Schneider, the acting Spokesperson for the U.S. Mission to South Africa, said there were three main steps to apply for a tourist visa.

“They are the same worldwide. Travellers will need to fill out the DS-160 application, pay the application fee, and schedule an appointment," she said. 

The process


1.        Determine the type of visa that best matches your planned activities in the U.S.  Information about visa types are available here: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/us-visas/visa-information-resources/all-visa-categories.html.

2.         Select your city and country of where you will be applying for your visa before you complete the online visa application form, DS-160. The DS-160 is a U.S. Government online form and can be completed at https://ceac.state.gov/CEAC.


Points to remember:

* Note your application ID as you will need it later.

* Always save your application.

* Before exiting, print a copy of your barcoded confirmation page.


Creating new user account


Go to https://ais.usvisa-info.com/en-za/niv/information/niv  and complete the following application steps to schedule an interview appointment:

a.        Create a user account.

b.         Enter the DS-160 confirmation number for each applicant applying for a visa.

c.          Complete the courier document return process.

d.         Pay the nonimmigrant visa (MRV) application fee.

e.         Schedule an interview appointment.

4.         Attend the interview appointment.

5.         After your interview, please follow specific instructions provided by the consular section or check this website for visa status and delivery information.

Note: Applicants of a certain age group or those who are renewing a previous U.S. visa may be eligible to apply for a visa without attending an interview. Eligibility for an interview waiver will be determined as the applicant goes through the process of scheduling an appointment through this site. The determination will be made based on the answers provided to the qualifying criteria.


The interview

Schneider said anyone who wanted to travel to the U.S. needed to be interviewed by a consular officer at one of the three consulates in South Africa, situated in Johannesburg, Durban or Cape Town.  

“Some applicants who renew their visas or children under the age of 14 may not be required to attend an interview, but the determination will be made based on the answers provided to the qualifying criteria,” she said.

Schneider continued: “Entry and security procedures vary from post to post depending on physical limitations of the building.  Applicants must go through security and no electronic devices will be permitted into the consulates. The wait times varied on the consulate and the time of year.  Because of the high demand across South Africa, applicants should apply as early as possible and preferably at least 30 days before their intended travel date. For further information, visit https://ais.usvisa-info.com/en-za/niv/information/visa_wait_times

For more information on the visa requirements and interviews, visit https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/us-visas/tourism-visit/visitor.html#overview

Important information 

* Travellers should wait until after they have their visa in hand or at least until they have attended the interview and have been approved by the Consular Officer before paying for any travel.  “Applicants that pay and plan travel before obtaining a visa may end up very disappointed because they can’t get a visa appointment in time for their trip! Apply early and apply first – before you do anything else,” said Schneider.

* B1/B2 visitor visas for South Africans last up to 10 years. However, this could be shortened by the consular officer at their discretion.

There is a non-refundable $160 (around R2385) application fee.  “If your visa is approved, you may be required to pay a visa issuance fee,” added Schneider.

Watch the visa process here: