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I have a US B1/B2 visa interview soon. They are given for 10 years here.

The interviewer is going to ask me why I want to go to the US. I'm not sure how to respond to that. Is it a good idea to the tell the truth?

The truth is that I don't want to go to the US this or next year, but I want to be able to go if I want to go... without being have to wait for 1.5 years for an appointment[1] and without being have to fly internationally just for the visa appointment[2].

[1] Currently new appointments are given for late 2023

[2] I spend my year in multiple countries as a tourist. I go wherever I feel like going. Just because of the appointment, I don't want to fly dozens of hours back and forth (from South EU or SA to my home country for the interview and then fly back to the US). Right now I'm in my home country so I thought I'd get this chore done while I'm here.

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    Without reading any of your question details. When someone asks “should i tell the truth…” the answer is always YES. Do not lie!
    – JonH
    Jan 3 at 16:44
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    @JonH or if the truth is really bad, simply don't apply
    – JonathanReez
    Jan 3 at 23:01
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    You conflate purpose and timing. If they want to know why you want to go to the USA, "I want to be able to go whenever I want" is not an answer to the why, but the when. You want to be able to go whenever you want - that's fine, why? What are you going to do once you're in the US?
    – magma
    Jan 4 at 0:10
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    @magma you should probably work that up to a complete answer post, as IMHO this answers the gist of the problem. (Include the "always tell the truth" exhortation as pointed out by others.)
    – frIT
    Jan 4 at 7:58
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    You should definitely tell the truth but in your case, you can still wrap it in a diplomatic way without going into extensive detail. You could easily answer the question with "I have not made specific plans yet, but I am aiming to go to the US in <insert timespan here>", which is a completely honest statement and still leaves you with option of flexibility. The question is about "why?" and not "when?", so basically the reason is that you want to go for multiple touristic travels with unknown organizational specifics.
    – kopaka
    Jan 4 at 10:27

5 Answers 5

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Should I tell the truth in the visa interview?

The answer is: Yes.

In the "Intended Date of Arrival" field, select a date in 2023. That's perfectly fine. In fact, in the comments for this field it says:

If you are unsure of your travel plans, please provide an estimate.

Tell them the same during the interview, if they asked. It is that simple.

Here's a screenshot of the field:

enter image description here

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  • I wonder if I should create a new DS160 If I wrote 2022 for Intended Date of Arrival field
    – user125921
    Jan 3 at 14:42
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    @user125921 probably not for something this minor. Especially when you have the perfect excuse - COVID. In the interview you may say that you want to go when you will feel it is safe, and you hope it might happen in 2022 but you do not know. And you didn't really know what to put there when you are not sure. This is, I guess, true enough.
    – Mołot
    Jan 3 at 16:26
  • I think that this is not about the "intended date of arrival" field but rather a question about the specific purpose of the planned visit; "doing business" might not be considered as a sufficient answer and the applicant may be required to specify a specific activity of a limited time that is planned during the stay and for which the visa is requested.
    – Peteris
    Jan 4 at 1:05
  • @Peteris I added a screenshot. Jan 4 at 4:14
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    The question seems to be quite explicitly about the extra questions that are likely to be asked in the visa interview, not about the questions asked in the documents which the poster has already submitted. You definitely can submit uncertain plans for travel dates, but you still should expect questions about your plans for the purpose of the visit - especially if you indicate in the form that your plans are not specific.
    – Peteris
    Jan 4 at 5:27
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You should always tell the truth! Especially in visa interviews, if they catch you lying there might be consequences on top of the refusal, which is pretty much the worst that can happen if you tell the truth.

If you have also waited ~1,5 years for your interview:

  1. It doesn't make sense calling it a chore you just want to get done
  2. It strengthens the argument for applying without concrete plans

If you haven't waited ~1,5 years for your interview: What makes you think it's not just a temporary thing that the wait is so long (the employees might be busy with other things - e.g. covid has brought several new tasks)

Specifying a year (and season) is probably a good idea though.

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    And most of them have LOTS of experience at detecting liars.
    – WGroleau
    Jan 5 at 22:37
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Always tell the truth in Visa interviews and similar meetings. There are serious penalties for not doing so.

However, you should treat a Visa interview just like you would treat testifying in court (whether for yourself, or for/against someone else):

  • Answer the question -- fully but minimally -- and nothing else.
  • Do not volunteer excess information!

In your case, what parts are the necessary truth, and what parts are in excess?

Necessary Truths

  1. You plan on visiting the US in the future for tourist reasons.
  2. You do not know exactly when you will actually visit.
  3. You can make a (very) rough guess of when you might be visiting.

Excess Information

  1. "I want to be able to just decide on the spur of the moment." This answers a question the interviewer hasn't asked: "why don't you know exactly when you'll visit?"
    -- Even if you are asked that question, you should provide mechanism not motive. An example: "My work schedule and my other obligations are generally variable, as are my finances to a certain degree. I plan to visit in the second quarter of 2024. However, if I have an important or time-critical contract of work during that time, I may need to postpone. If I were to have a windfall project in 2023, I might want to visit a little earlier."

  2. "...I don't want to go to US this or next year..." They don't want to know what you don't want. (Personally, I never want to go to jail, but that's not what I would lead with in a police interview, for what should be obvious reasons!) Answer only the questions asked.

  3. "I don't want to have to wait for 1.5 years for an appointment..." Nobody does. Again, don't provide negatives.

  4. Note also that the interviewer probably won't ask: "What's your motivation in applying when you're applying?" Or "what is your attitude about travel?"

It occurs to me part of the problem is the meaning of the word "want." The interviewer is trying to determine what you might or might not do once you arrive in country. They are asking "purpose of [proposed] visit."

If the interviewer wants more details, they will ask. If they ask, provide those details, but again, only answer the question asked, and give the minimum truthful answer.

A common technique used by ANY kind of "screener" (Visa interviewers, job interviewers, police, security, verbal academic boards) is to ask very open-ended questions and then allow the interviewee to shoot themselves in the foot with them. I have experienced this directly and personally during academic boards. One can uncover a LOT of information from an unwary participant just by letting them lead the interviewer by answering a chain of loose, unspecific questions. Attorneys (barristers) do the same in court.

REMEMEBER: It is not dishonest to limit your answers, as long as you are not leaving out pertinent, material facts. (Those are "lies by omission.") You are simply restricting the conversation to only what's necessary to determine if you will be granted a Visa.

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I spend my year in multiple countries as a tourist

This is a normal thing by now. We even have a question about Where can I travel for prolonged periods of time while legally working remotely for a company in my home country? and post covid we are seeing a lot of countries implementing one year "digital nomad" visas. I have been digital nomading in 2006-2008 and back then it was much less normal but now? this is fine. Just tell them the truth that you are digital nomading perhaps offer the same explanation you did for us just in case and that you want to include USA in your future trips. There's nothing wrong with this.

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    The term "digital nomad" implies that you are working (remotely) in your host country, which is likely to set off alarm bells. Jan 3 at 23:42
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    Is USA actually welcoming digital nomads? In general, one of the multiple essential requirements of B1 visa is to prove that "You have a residence outside the United States that you have no intention of abandoning" so being a nomad shifting among many countries during the year would imply an automatic disqualification for this type of visa. Like, there is nothing wrong with this, but USA is free to decide (and apparently has decided) that they will refuse such visas to people of some countries (Visa Waiver Program has less restrictions than B-1 visa) without strong ties to their home country.
    – Peteris
    Jan 4 at 0:48
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    I.e. my point is that the ability to be a "digital nomad" is different depending on what passport you hold, and it seems likely that your personal situation is substantially different than that of the OP simply because of where you were born; I don't think that it is safe to assume that they would be allowed to do what you did.
    – Peteris
    Jan 4 at 0:53
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    I'm about 90% sure that entering the US for the purpose of working remotely from the US, when there is no actual business need for doing so, is not an officially permitted purpose of B status, whether you have a visa or not. But a VWP visitor is more likely to get away with it than a visa-required national, simply because they are not as likely to be scrutinized as closely.
    – Brian
    Jan 4 at 23:05
  • @Brian Yes, that's my understanding, as well. And, indeed, it's still technically true of most countries, even if only because immigration laws tend to change slowly and the trend (and technology required to enable the trend) is, relative to immigration law, rather new. There are some legitimate problematic details with working out such laws, though, especially with regard to taxation and use of public services. In particularly, if you're living in one country, but only paying taxes in a different one, then you're likely using public services without contributing towards them.
    – reirab
    Jan 6 at 16:09
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Tell the truth.

Is it a good idea to the tell the truth?

Yes it is — always. Never lie, and never lie by omission either, by hiding details that you know are relevant to the situation.

Immigration officers are trained professionals who, by law, have to assume that foreign nationals have immigrant intent until they can show otherwise. They will immediately spot any cracks in your story and start digging, and any lies, however small, will instantly invalidate your credibility.

What is the purpose of your visit?

On top of that, you seem to be conflating purpose and timing. If they want to know why you want to go to the USA, "I want to be able to go whenever I want" is not an answer to the why, but the when.

You want to be able to go whenever you want - that's fine, why? What are you going to do once you're in the US? Are there places that you want to visit as a tourist? Are you planning to work illegally on your tourist visa? Are you planning to overstay? Do you have enough ties to your home country that you're actually likely to go back before your visa expires? Do you have any friends or family members who already live in the US, that could potentially help you overstay? Can you afford to live in the US for the duration of your planned stay (i.e., do you have enough money to support yourself)?

Also, definitely tell the truth, but if I may, adopt a more agreeable delivery: I don't feel like "I want to go wherever I want whenever I want" is an answer likely to be well received. It sounds defiant; I recommend that you avoid any behaviour or words which might be interpreted as defiant, arrogant or otherwise disrespectful or entitled. For instance, you can say that because of the long wait times for interviews, the unpredictability of the worldwide Covid situation, etc, it is hard for you to schedule precise dates for traveling, but if at all possible, you would like to be ready to travel on short notice. You like to be prepared and have everything ready.

When going for an immigration interview, please remember at all times that you have no right whatsoever to enter the country you want to enter; an immigration officer has almost absolute power over the decision to grant you a visa, and if you lie (and they will catch you lying), they will probably do whatever they can to make sure that it's hard or impossible for you to try again.

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    Well said! I would consider this answer to go hand-in-hand with my own, so I upvoted it. In particular, I like the fact that you explain why Visa interviews are done, what the interviewers are looking for, and the general context of what's actually going on. Bottom lines: (1) Never Lie! (2) Answer the question that was actually asked. (3) Phraseology (and outward attitude) counts!
    – Forbin
    Jan 6 at 17:15

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