The US Visa for Indian citizens is a coveted Visa as it makes the rather weak passport moderately stronger for traveling. US Visa opens the door to multiple countries esp. if you’re planning a trip to Latin America. Saves time, money, and a lot of trips to the embassy.
Fortunately or Unfortunately I have two separate experiences of getting US Visa in two different countries – Ecuador and Colombia. It is recommended though that one applies for US Visa from their home country.
Here is the Common information:
Cost: USD 160
Mode of Payment: Online
Processing Time: It depends on the availability of interview slots but once the Visa is approved it usually takes 5 working days
Visa Type: B2 Tourism/Medical Treatment
Documents: Form 160, photograph
- Fill the form 160
- make a payment
- submit your form online
- choose a date to submit fingerprints and a date for interview (It happens on the same day in Ecuador)
- passport would be retained by the embassy only in case Visa is approved
Embassy Quito, Ecuador:
Visa Requested: 30 days
Visa Issued: 6 months with two entries permitted
Validity: 6 months
- ‘Who is sponsoring your trip’
- ‘What if you run out of money’
- ‘Why US’
- How long have you been traveling (5 months then)
- How long in Ecuador
- When do you plan to go back
- Why did you quit your job
- What did you do back in India
- How are you funding your trip
- How much have you saved (had about $3700)
- What does your family do
- Where do your parents live
- Where do you live, do you live with them?
- Where in US are you going to travel (I had given a friend’s address in Tennessee)
- How do you know this friend in US (Met while traveling and hosted him for a few days in Mumbai)
Visa approved. Within 5 working days I got an email asking me to collect my passport.
I was excited about the Visa, the family I was staying with were equally happy and we had a tiny celebration as well, the day i got my Visa approved.
It was fairly easy to collect my passport but what I noticed upon getting my passport was disheartening. Unlike the usual Visa, I had gotten only 6 months on my Visa with two entries allowed.
It was still good enough for my plans though.
Embassy Bogota, Colombia:
After getting mugged in Colombia, I had to do the entire process again of getting US Visa. It was essential for me as I wanted to go to one more country from here and I couldn’t have entered Colombia again without a valid US Visa.
After much thought I applied for a fresh US Visa. There is no other way out even though I had a copy of the previous Visa.
I filled the form, got a date for submitting finger prints then another date for interview.
Both these dates were difficult to get as all the slots seemed to be full. I checked everyday to see if there was an earlier date available. This way I lost less time in the process.
The interview revolved around the mugging incident. The lady was empathetic and kind.
In the end, she told me my Visa is approved.
I collected my passport after five working days and to my surprise I had received a 10 year Visa this time.
Owing to the US Visa I was able to travel to below countries Visa free:
- Colombia (90 days)
- Mexico (180 days )
- Belize (I got Visa for 10 days but one could apply for 30 days)
- Guatemala (90 days)
Tips for any Indian applying for a US Visa –
- The fingerprinting and interview slots were not available for the next month or so. I took the earliest date and kept checking everyday to see if an earlier date was available. I was able to save a lot of time this way.
- Everyone was dressed very smartly (most people were in business formals) but I’m not sure if it makes any difference. I went there in my backpacking clothes and hiking shoes.
- Be honest and confident in your interview. They are experienced in this and can see through lies.
US Visa in both countries was very comfortable experience. Everyone spoke english, the processes are in place so nobody is lost upon seeing an Indian passport. The email ids are very responsive and they even have a skype number one could call for any questions. Makes life so much easier for a traveler.