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What should I wear to the visa interview?

A collection of dress shirts

There is a lot riding on the visa interview. If it goes well, you have the opportunity to enter the United States to travel, pursue a degree, start a business, or be with your family. If it goes poorly, all of your hard work and preparation could be for naught. The fact that consular officers have extensive discretion only exacerbates many applicants’ concerns. Understandably, questions are commonly asked about what to wear at the interview and how to make sure that one’s dress does not create any risk of a visa denial.

What should I wear to my visa interview?

The guiding principle when choosing what to wear to your visa interview is to play it safe. This is a time to dress conservatively, and is not a time to stand out or make a statement through your clothing.

Admittedly, you can never entirely know how a consular officer will think. However there is a good chance that they take their position seriously, and that they think the U.S. consulate (and, by extension, the United States) should be respected. Your goal with your clothing should be to convey to the officer, “I respect you. I respect the U.S. consulate. And I respect the opportunity to visit the United States.”

One safe option is to wear attire that is typical of a business setting in the United States. For men, this would include dress slacks, a button-up dress shirt, and a jacket. It never hurts to wear a tie as well. For women, this would include dress pants or a skirt with a matching jacket. For sample images of what this looks like, see here.

What should I not wear to the visa interview?

There are certain things that the applicant should not wear to the visa interview, since they are likely to convey to the consular officer that the applicant does not take the consular officer or the opportunity to apply for the visa seriously.

For example, visa applicants should not wear informal clothing to the interview, such as a t-shirt, shorts, or worn jeans. Any clothing with words that could possibly be interpreted as offensive should also be avoided.

Can I wear clothing that is unique to my ethnic or cultural heritage?

In many cases, it is acceptable to wear clothing that is unique to your ethnic or cultural heritage. When determining whether clothing that is unique to your ethnic or cultural heritage is appropriate, it can be helpful to ask yourself if the clothing would be acceptable if you were to meet a high-level government official of your country, or if you were to attend a dinner at a nice restaurant in your city or town. If the answer is no, it is probably best not to wear the clothing to the consulate. Even if the answer to these questions is yes, however, you should still be careful to ask the question posed before: does the clothing convey to the consular officer that you respect them, the consulate, and the opportunity to visit the United States? If you are not sure, it is probably best to play it safe and wear attire that is typical of a business setting in the United States.

What about children? What should they wear?

Children under the age of 14 are oftentimes not required to attend the visa interview, but you should confirm this with your consulate. If a child is attending the interview, the same principle as before would apply: their clothing should ideally show that they (and their parents, if present) respect the consulate, the consular officer, and the opportunity to enter the United States. While a child’s clothing will usually be less important than an adult’s – particularly if the child is on the younger end – a good rule of thumb is for the child to wear clothing that they would wear to a semi-formal occasion, such as a grandparent’s birthday or an important occasion at their school.


In the end, if the applicant conveys through their clothing that they respect the consular officer, the U.S. consulate, and the opportunity to enter the United States, their attire is one less variable that they should worry about on the day of their interview.

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