When applying for a visa to the USA, you must attend an interview at the Embassy of the United States of America in Prague or elsewhere. The purpose of this article is to summarize the experiences of individual applicants. If you have yet to be interviewed, read on. And if you’ve already had one, we’d love to hear about your experience, which you can share in the comments section below.
Your Experience with Applying for a USA Visa
All reader experiences below are published as they wrote them. The text has not undergone language editing and does not reflect the opinion of the website operator. 😊
🇨🇿 Prague, Czech Republic (March 2018)
“I visited the embassy last week (March 2018).
Before that, I filled out the DS 160 online, as I have always done. I have traveled to the USA two times before on the Work and Travel program with a J1 visa, and have been there about five times for shorter periods either on vacation with family in Florida or visiting relatives living in Atlanta. I want to make the most of my student life and travel as much as I can; it also fits in with my school schedule.
For the interview, I brought my invitation letter, bank statement, visa receipt, and listed the places I would like to visit this time in America.
The first difference from last year, for example, is the photo; even though the system approved my electronic photo when I filled out the DS 160, they still required a physical photo. Those who didn’t have one had to rush to get a picture taken.
Another thing, the clerk didn’t ask anyone for any documents! Not even proof of my bank balance, an invitation letter, nothing… and he didn’t ask any of the other people who were there either.
In the end, he approved my visa, although he looked a bit skeptical, questioning whether I was planning to work there since I was interrupting school for a year after my bachelor’s degree to travel.
Now, I have a B2 visa in my passport originally valid for 10 years, just slightly limited to 1 year :D
But I’m hoping that once I’m back as a student, they won’t have any problem giving me a standard length visa.
I spent about an hour and a half at the embassy altogether, and then received my passport and visa within 3 days.”
— Petra, March 17, 2018
🇨🇿 Prague, Czech Republic (December 2017)
“I would like to share my experience about my visa application. In 2007, I overstayed my visit by one and a half years.
I was rejected immediately after filling out the ESTA form because I had truthfully indicated that I was there illegally. So, I decided to apply for a visa. I was supposed to go to the USA for training from work, so I had an invitation letter. The only other document they briefly looked at was the employment contract. They weren’t interested in the bank statements, but that’s probably because everything was paid for by my company. I had a 10:45 appointment.
My turn came just before 1pm. I recommend bringing something to read, or try to schedule an earlier appointment. They’ll verify your appointment before you enter the embassy. Inside, they’ll confiscate your phone immediately. It’s like being in a post office upstairs, you take a number and wait. They called me around 10:45, but they just wanted my passport. The interview happened before 1:00. It lasted about 5-10 minutes. What’s a bit annoying is that you interview in front of 30 other people in the waiting room.
Anyway, I don’t think they had any record of my previous visit. They asked why I overstayed, why I decided to go back and why I wanted to go there now. I told them the truth about my history. They entered everything in and granted me a visa. Of course, I’m aware that at immigration in the USA, they can still turn me away.”
— Paja, December 26, 2017
🇨🇿 Prague, Czech Republic (November 2017)
“Here’s my experience. I’m going to the USA for a 4.5-month vacation to visit friends. I didn’t realize until relatively late that ESTA is not sufficient for that length of stay :).
So, I applied for a tourist visa (B-2). I submitted my DS-160 on Thursday afternoon and immediately scheduled an appointment for an interview on Monday. I spent about an hour at the embassy, everyone was very friendly. I was quite worried about it based on what I’d heard from others, but that worry turned out to be totally unnecessary. The interview itself lasted about 5 minutes. The official only asked me if this was my first time going to the USA, about my work here in the Czech Republic (I provided a certificate of employment duration and the fact that we have a seasonal break), and then if I was planning to work in the USA, to which I responded no, given that I work virtually non-stop over the summer season and wanted to rest in the USA.
I showed him an invitation letter from a friend. He asked me about my friend’s occupation, but in all my nervousness, I told him I didn’t really know… :D
The gentleman was typing something into his computer the entire time and finally told me there was nothing stopping me from getting a visa. At the end, I asked the clerk if my visa would be ready by the end of the week, since I was leaving the following week. He confirmed that it should be no problem.
They didn’t even ask me for a ticket, etc.
Of course, I’m still quite worried about immigration in America. After all, I’m a young kid going to the USA with just a few dollars in my pocket. I don’t know how much weight they’ll give to an invitation letter that says all expenses, etc., will be covered by the friend who invited me.”
— Oskar, November 7, 2017
🇨🇿 Prague, Czech Republic (November 2016)
“I visited the embassy on Wednesday to apply for a B1/B2 visa as I’m embarking on a study-tourist trip.
The process went incredibly smoothly. To my surprise, the gentleman conducting the interview spoke solely in Czech, albeit with an American accent. He inquired about my reasons for visiting the USA, who was financing the trip, my accommodation plans, and whether I was studying in the Czech Republic. He did not ask for any additional documents, and I had to insist that he take the certificate from the American school :D
I was slightly irritated that no one asked for a photo, which wasn’t exactly cheap. Regardless, my visa arrived by mail two days later.”
— Lucie, November 12, 2016
🇨🇿 Prague, Czech Republic (February 2016)
“I underwent my F1 visa interview in January 2016. Everything proceeded smoothly, perhaps due to the type of visa. The longest wait was between receiving the documents and the actual interview (about 20 minutes, with the interview itself lasting 5 minutes).
For those who are apprehensive about the English language during the interview, rest assured, the clerk behind the glass also speaks Czech. I personally heard the gentleman at the window speaking Czech and the clerk responding without any issues. I recommend a thorough preparation of documents, every piece should substantiate your intention to return to the Czech Republic and that you’re not seeking financial aid in the USA (the list of necessary documents is available on the USA embassy website).
If you are employed, bring a work contract from the Czech Republic; if you are an entrepreneur, bring a statement from the trade or commercial register; if you are a student or unemployed, make sure to bring your bank account statement from the last three months. My passport and visa arrived three days after the interview.”
— Pavel, February 7, 2016
🇨🇿 Prague, Czech Republic (February 2016)
“I attended the interview yesterday, and it was both relaxed and formal. The lady at the window seemed interested in how we were uncovering the prehistory of Northeast Africa. She ultimately decided that I was essentially Indiana Jones, and approved my visa. I was there for approximately 5 minutes. Admittedly, I had everything ready — an invitation letter, conference registration form, confirmation of acceptance of conference paper… and many other documents as backup.
What surprised me was how unprepared some people were, yet how accommodating the embassy staff were. For instance, a man without a photo was permitted to visit a photographer, and another individual without a filled-out application was allowed to complete it again on the computer in the hall. I cannot comprehend how he made it that far…
Overall, it was a very positive experience.”
— Honza, February 5, 2016
🇨🇿 Prague, Czech Republic (December 2014)
“I visited the USA Embassy yesterday to apply for a B1 visa. Since I found the hints and tips here beneficial prior to my visit, I decided to share some of my own:
- Firstly, evaluate whether you actually need a visa or if an ESTA would suffice. If you’re denied a visa, they are unlikely to authorize an ESTA. If they do grant you an ESTA, the immigration interview might not go smoothly.
- If you decide a visa is necessary for your travel purpose, select the most appropriate type. Most information on visa types can be found on the embassy website.
- Filling out the DS160 is simple; just aim to provide as accurate information as possible (don’t attempt to obscure anything).
- To schedule an appointment and pay the visa fee, please use https://www.ustraveldocs.com/. If you pay online (debit card only), it’s possible to arrange an interview for the next day. However, you must do this by 12 noon; otherwise, it’s scheduled for the day after.
- Bring a plethora of documents to the interview, particularly important ones: bank statements from the last 3 months, a student certificate or employment contract, a lease agreement or land registry record, etc. The objective is to convince them that you plan to return to the Czech Republic and what you intend to return for. An invitation letter from a USA citizen can be very helpful – include as much information as possible and sign it.
- Arrive at the embassy punctually on the day of the interview; they won’t hesitate to let you wait outside in freezing cold weather.
- After the security check, proceed upstairs to the consular section. At counter 1, you will submit the confirmation page from the DS160 application and your passport. Then move to the waiting room. After some time, you’ll be called to a specific counter, where a USA official will take your fingerprints.
- The interview is conducted entirely in English, so you need to have sufficient language skills (I’m unsure about the process if you don’t speak English). The consular officer asks straightforward questions like: the purpose of your trip, who is financing it, how you’re paying for it, the duration of your stay, whether you’ve visited the USA before, if you have relatives in the USA, where you work, where you live, etc. It may seem daunting, but it’s more like a conversation where you’re trying to persuade the officer to issue a visa. If you confidently answer the questions and support your claims, you’ll receive the visa.
- If you pass the interview, the officer will retain your passport, which will be sent by Czech Post within 5 working days.
In conclusion, there’s no need to worry as long as your documents are in order and you have sufficient funds. There’s no reason for them to deny you a visa. I hope my experience will be of help to someone.”
— Jakub, December 5, 2014
🇨🇿 Prague, Czech Republic (April 2014)
“I’d like to share my experience. It was my first time, and it didn’t go well, leaving me with a rather unpleasant feeling. I applied for a six-month business visa, and they weren’t satisfied that 30,000 CZK per month as a self-employed individual was sufficient, and that the extra $8,000 in savings I had were tied up in assets rather than in an account. They saw it as having no full-time job (the officer referred to it as a part-time job) and no money for the trip.
This is because they assume you’ll have no income while in the US (as you won’t be working in the Czech Republic, and you’re not permitted to work in the US on a B1/B2 visa) and that you’ll need access to your account. If you do have an income, you’ll need to provide a work contract and a letter from your Czech employer stating that you work for them and will be paid a certain amount during your trip, essentially showing they are sponsoring your business trip. If you will not receive money, you must already have it saved up. This means a bank statement or savings account statement with sufficient funds for airfare, lodging, and travel expenses in the US.
One thing that can significantly simplify this process is a verified invitation letter from the person you are visiting or staying with. It should state that they will be responsible for you and cover all your travel and stay expenses. Preferably, this person is a US citizen. A friend’s green card may not suffice, as I have heard of visa applications being denied in such cases. The longer the visa duration you seek, the higher their requirements for funding and personal ties.
Another thing I regret is my ESTA. I had one, and I suppose it becomes invalid with a denied visa, and a new one will probably be denied after a visa rejection. That said, if you wish to stay in the US for more than 3 months and can’t provide enough documentation to support your visa application, just apply for an ESTA, breaking up your trip into 2-3 month periods. Always have a return ticket. However, be cautious when planning your trip. If you are going for more than a few days, you will need to provide evidence of the purpose of your trip and how it’s funded to the immigration officer at the airport. An invitation letter or bank statement should suffice.”
— A., April 9, 2014