Some you can correct. Others, you can’t.
It gets annoying when you make mistakes that could have been avoided with very little effort.
Having studied, worked, and lived in America for more than 10 years as a non-immigrant, I’ve filled out quite a few applications and forms during my time here. Some are basic applications. Others are really important. The most important application I have filled out in America has been for my non-immigrant visa.
[America is strict when it comes to applying for a visa AND getting the visa before you land in the country. Other countries aren’t as strict, and will let you apply for a visa on arrival]
Applying for a visa is boring.
But every year or so, I have to do it to remain in compliance.
That’s the case for millions of non-immigrants living in America legally. Applying for a visa requires a form with lots of pages, and copies of important documents. It doesn’t even matter what kind of visa you’re applying for.
Every day, many people who submit applications for an American visa their application approved. Unfortunately, many people get their application rejected or denied. There are many reasons why a visa application may be denied.
To avoid having your visa application denied, it helps to control the factors you can control.
One of the biggest factors is filling out your application correctly.
In my 10 years of applying for visas and renewals, I learned the importance of my past. Not in a philosophical way. I mean my past LITERALLY.
Below you’ll find the most critical actions you can take to ensure you:
Fill out your visa application forms correctly
Avoid having your visa application denied
Most application forms for American visas ask about your current status. This covers your address, your contact information in America, and details about your family.
Then it gets tricky.
To fill in your visa application form correctly the first list you make should be a record of your travel history.
Know Your Travel History
When foreign nationals travel to America, a record is kept on a form called the Form I-94 or Arrival-Departure Record Card. In the past, the traveler filled out a paper form – part of the form was the arrival record, and another part was the departure record. Each time a foreign national landed in America, the Customs and Border officer kept the arrival record, and the traveler kept the departure record for the next time s/he exited America for any reason.
Now, the Form I-94 is available as a website, and travelers do not need to enter any of their details for it. Lucky for you, you can access your arrival and departure history of entering and leaving America through the I-94 website. It’s easy to use. So, you won’t really have to make a list of your travel history. The I-94 website makes the list for you!
To use the website, all you need to do is enter your name, date of birth, and passport details.
Then it shows your travel history for the United States.
This website is REALLY helpful when filling out an application form for an American visa.
The website has a record of your arrival in and departure from America. This isn’t useful only for visa applications. It’s also helpful for filing America tax returns. Some American tax forms for foreign nationals ask for the number of days spent in the US in a particular year. This requires knowing each trip taken that resulted in exiting and entering America. That’s an article for another time.
While the I-94 website is very helpful, it can also cause problems.
If you enter your information correctly and your travel history shows up, a date may be missing.
Or you may have traveled many years ago before the I-94 website existed.
If any of your travel dates are missing from the I-94 website, it is up to you to remember those dates in case you need it for your visa application form or if the visa officer at the US embassy asks about your previous travel.
TIP 1: Keep your expired passports. If your Form I-94 is missing any dates, go through your passports and find the stamps that show when you arrived or exited the US.
TIP 2: Use an app for your digital boarding passes. You will always have your travel history at your fingertips. There is an iOS app and an Android app for keeping boarding passes.
The next list you should make covers your job history.
Know Your Job History
What were you doing a year ago?
Five years ago?
Did you get promoted? When?
Our memory can betray us sometimes.
When it comes to visa application forms, it’s important to keep track of your job history.
An easy way to remember your job history is to take a look at your resume. Most people use their resume to list every job they’ve ever had.
That can be a good thing when it comes to applying for a non-immigrant visa for America.
But your resume might only be helpful if you remember to update it. Most people create their resume in the traditional way – on paper. Now, there are tons of apps that help you to create a modern version of your resume. It doesn’t matter what method you use to create your resume, as long as you have one.
TIP: Linkedin is one of the most widely used websites/apps for professionals. It’s an easy way to keep your resume updated by entering the date and your title of each position.
Make a list of these two things – your travel and job history – and you’ll save time applying for your non-immigrant visa, fill out your forms correctly, and increase the chances of your visa application being approved.
Thanks for reading.