The consular interview is one of the most crucial parts of the immigrant visa process. Applicants must know what to expect and be aware of the things they need to do to successfully complete their interviews.

An Overview of the Immigrant Visa Consular Interview Process

Before attending a consular interview, applicants need to conduct the following steps:

Receive the Notice from the Embassy

The consular interview process starts when the applicant receives their notice from the embassy, which contains the date and time of their interview. The notice usually arrives several months after the case is filed and 30 days prior to the scheduled interview date.

Prepare for the Interview

Immediately after the applicant receives the notice, they must begin preparing for their consular interview. It’s not advisable to start the preparation process any later as there are various things that need to be completed in time for the big day.

Generally, the embassy’s website would have immigrant visa instructions that outline the things that need to be done and documents that need to be prepared. Some embassies would even go the extra mile to provide their applicants with a checklist. These are things that would be very helpful to have and follow.

Complete a Medical Appointment

Prior to their interviews, applicants will need to set their medical appointments and get their medical exam documents. Some medical offices can experience delays, so it’s important to complete this step early on to ensure that medical documents are ready on the interview date.

Gather Original Documents

Next, the applicants are encouraged to gather the original copies of their documents, such as their:

  • Birth certificate
  • Marriage certificate
  • Divorce decrees
  • Police certificates
  • Etc.

Although immigration would have copies of these documents, it’s recommended that applicants take the original versions with them for immigration's perusal. 

Get Organized

Some embassies have very strict rules about what an applicant can bring to their consular interview. There are embassies where backpacks or non-translucent folders are not allowed within the office. Applicants should take the initiative to learn their embassy’s rules and organize their documents accordingly.


Being the most important step in the immigration process, the consular interview is something that needs to be studied for. A few days prior to the scheduled interview, the applicant is encouraged to go over their case and ensure that everything is in order. Typos or other incorrect information should be noted and brought up during the consular interview.

Attend the Interview Proper

Come the big day, the applicant should be well-prepared and ready. They should dress nicely, ensure their things are organized and follow the embassy’s regulations, etc. It’s also important to note that almost all embassies do not allow electronic devices in the building. Applicants should leave their electronics at home or in their vehicles and instead take something to do while waiting, such as a book or magazine.

The interview proper will last between five to 10 minutes. If the case is more complex, it could take longer. The applicant can expect the immigration officer to ask very specific questions that require detailed answers. They will also be asked about their social media, case details, etc. It’s important to be familiar with everything surrounding the immigration case in order to perform well in the interview.