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O-1 Visa Interview: Tips and Common Questions

By October 14, 2021Immigration
Two people sitting down for an interview

The O-1 visa allows individuals with extraordinary ability in a number of different fields to come to the U.S. and work in their area of extraordinary activity. This article focuses on the O-1 visa interview and the types of questions you can expect at your consular interview and how you can prepare.
In order to get an O-1 visa, your US employer will first have to file an O-1 petition with USCIS, meaning that USCIS always has to approve the O-1 petition first before you can get an O-1 visa at a Consulate. After this petition is approved, you will then be able to apply for an O-1 visa at a Consulate.
Here are some tips for the O-1 visa interview:

Be confident & be able to explain your extraordinary ability:

The standard for the O-1 visa is that you have extraordinary ability in a specific field. If the officer asks you to briefly explain how and why you qualify, you should be confident and have a short explanation ready that goes over your major achievements.

Be familiar with the Table of Contents and with the O-1 Petition:

Even though the petition was already approved by USCIS, the Consular Officer may want to see some supporting evidence so you should print the whole O-1 petition that was submitted to USCIS. You should familiarize yourself with the Table of Contents so you are quickly able to find documents in the petition in case the officer wants to see specific evidence (e.g. your portfolio, or evidence of major award).

Answer Questions Briefly:

Many applicants ramble on when asked a question by an examiner and provide detailed explanations to simple questions. If a question is a yes/no question, just answer yes or no and if the examiner wants more detail they will ask for it. Often applicants speak and speak and reveal information that may ultimately lead to a denial of their application.

Answer Questions Honestly:

It is imperative that a visa applicant answers all questions honestly. If you do not remember something, just say that you do not remember. If a visa is denied because of lack of documentation, you can always apply again in the future. If a visa is denied because an officer thinks you lied, you will have a tough time getting a visa in the future.

Listen to the Question:

While many are nervous, you should focus on the question and provide an answer to the question being asked. If you go off on a tangent or do not answer the specific question, the officer may think you have something to hide and are avoiding the question.

Know Your DS-160 Application:

You should review your DS-160 application before the interview and pay particular attention to any questions on the application where they asked you a “yes” or “no” question or to “explain”. For example, (Has anyone ever filed a Immigrant Visa (Green Card) on your behalf? If yes, explain.) If you answered any of these questions “yes” these areas may be a focus of the interview. Often examiners will ask some of the same questions that are on your DS-160 application and your answers during the interview should be consistent.

Dress the part and be courteous:

You should wear business attire to your interview as a first impression cannot be taken back. Also, under no circumstances should you argue or be disrespectful to the officer. At time they will do everything in their power to provoke you but you should always be respectful. (even if they are not). They have an enormous amount of power and they are the person that will make the decision. Keep in mind that their decision CANNOT be appealed.

Relax:

The examiner is asking questions to see if you meet the criteria and if you used a lawyer you likely have a good submission. Relax and do not stress about this interview. Often the is very fast and the officer only asks a few questions. That being said, the interview can be longer if the examiner has doubts about the application.

Some questions the Consular Officer may ask you:

– What is the name of the company you will work for in the U.S.?
– What does the U.S. Company do? (Here you should explain what the company does and also explain why the company is distinguished/reputable in your industry – e.g. The Company is one of the top 10 Architecture firms in NYC).
– What will be your role in the U.S. company?
– What will you be your job duties for the U.S. company?
– Where and what did you study?
– What is your employment history?
– How do you qualify for the O-1 visa? (Here, you should review the O-1 petition before your interview and explain which of the O-1A or O-1B criteria you meet).
– What field is your extraordinary ability in?
– What projects will you be working on once you come to the U.S.?
– What has been your biggest professional achievement so far?
– Which of the experts that wrote you expert letters do you personally know?
– Which city/state in the U.S. you will work in?
– What will be your salary?
– Have you had an O-1 visa before?
– Have you ever been in the U.S.? What visa were you on?
– Is the job you will be doing in the U.S. in the same field as your previous jobs?
As mentioned above, the officer may also ask you questions from the DS-160 form so you should review the form in detail before your interview.
Please note that often the Consular officer will want to see your Employment Contract, Portfolio or Itinerary.

What should you bring to the interview?

Please note that this is only a general list of documents and each Consulate may have its own specific instructions as to what you should bring:
– Passport
– Photo (5x5cm)
– DS160 confirmation page
– Proof of the visa fee payment
– Visa interview appointment confirmation and instructions
– If your spouse/child is applying for an O-3 visa, they will need to bring the original marriage/birth certificate
– The I-797 O-1 Approval notice
– The O-1 petition
– If you are already working in the US on an O1 status, you should bring 2-3 most recent paystubs
Please see our blog post on How long does it usually take to get the O-1 visa here.
Please see our blog post on Whether you can bring your family to the U.S. on an O-1 visa here.
Please see our blog post on How many times you can renew your O-1 visa here.

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