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How to Get Dressed for a Visa Interview at the American Consulate

There’s nothing more nerve-wracking then having a really important interview but no clue how to ace it. I’ve spent the better part of 20 years traveling and living abroad as an American, but also with my Guatemalan husband. Together, we’ve interviewed with customs agents, chatted with security. It’s an understandably intimidating process. But we’ve both found the dress code is pretty easy for both men and women once you understand what you’re aiming for.

I’m assuming you’ve completed your US Visa application and paid the fee. Now you have an in-person interview scheduled at the U.S. embassy. This interview is a critical point in your US Visa application and probably the most stressful too!

This is the point in your application where the consular officer assesses your eligibility, and makes a personal judgement call on if you fit the protocol for issuing a visa. This person single-handedly determines whether or not you will receive a US visa to travel to the United States.

Let’s cover the basic questions: “How should I dress for the US Visa interview?”, and include the types of outfits that men and women usually wear to the embassy before having a successful interview.

Let’s not get overly complicated, but we will get specific. There IS a dress code you should follow. And the right outfit can help your case. Once you have the outfit covered, prep yourself with the most common questions asked during a US Visa interview, so you can be prepared in the best way possible.

How to Dress for a US Visa Interview

two woman checking out clothes for a visa interview, one of them is holding a brown jacket
Getting dressed for a US visa interview is not complicated, and should not be overthinked. The main goal is to give a first good impression while showing confidence.

From appropriate clothing, footwear, and accessories as well as grooming tips for both males and females, this post will provide you with the most important things to consider for how to dress for a US Visa application interview.

If you follow the tips and general guidelines presented in this article you will not doubt as to what exactly is appropriate to wear for your interview.

And while we cannot guarantee your visa to the USA will be approved just based on being the best dressed. You can be assured that you will be in a better position to make the best first impression on the consular official who will be interviewing you based on how you dress.

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Why Your Visa Interview Outfit Matters

Like any other important day in our lives, we have to dress according to the occasion, we have to take into account that the first impression counts a lot. 

And this includes applying and interviewing for vacation or work visas for the US.

If you are applying for a visa to travel for work or Business then check out this article about US Business and Work Visas

After all, you only have one chance to make a first impression.

A good approach for this would be to take it as a job interview. 

You do not need to dress too formally i.e. a suit and tie is not mandatory. But your appearance should be neat, your clothes clean and pressed and importantly you should also feel comfortable with what you are wearing.

How you dress paints a strong picture of the type of character you have. And assessing your character is one of the key points of this in-person interview. 

So it’s very important to make an effort to make a great impression.

The first impression is crucial and it is the first thing that the consul evaluates before even asking a single interview question.

But you may also be wondering, “Is there a specific dress code for a US Visa Interview or for visiting the US Embassy or consulate?”.

What is the Dress Code for US Visa Interviews at the Embassy?

There are no specific requirements or dress codes set forth by the Government of the United States for what to wear for a Visa application interview. 

However, choosing semi-formal to formal clothing that is comfortable is a good guideline to follow. 

We will get more into the specific items of clothing that you could choose to wear but probably the most important thing is that you feel comfortable which allows you to feel relaxed and confident.

Each person is different in the way in which how they dress makes them feel relaxed and confident but try to find a middle ground between elegance and comfort.

You should look presentable and tidy while also reflecting your personality in the best way. 

A good tip would be to picture yourself in the US consul’s shoes and think about how you would judge a person who is poorly dressed or too informal (i.e shorts and a t-shirt) 

Being too informal and even sloppy presents an image that your interviewer would most likely see as someone who does not take the US Visa interview process seriously. 

This is not the kind of image you want to portray.

Outfit Guidelines for Your Visa Interview

Here are some general ‘dress code’ tips when showing up for your US Visa application interview:

  • Think of the Visa application interview as a job interview for a job you want to get. How would you dress to make the best impression?
  • Don’t try to be too fashionable, wear clothes that are clean and pressed. Tidiness and neatness are far more important than sporting the latest trending clothes.
  • Dress for comfort also. Being uncomfortable can make you more anxious and nervous than you really need to be.
  • Minimize accessories. Keep jewelry light and avoid large and distracting accessories i.e. large earrings and chains.

More specific tips on what to wear are discussed below but if you follow the general guidelines discussed above then you already have an excellent starting point.

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Men’s Outfit Ideas for the US Embassy

If you’re interviewing at the US embassy for your visa, you want to look your best. Use these suggest so that you dress in something simple and elegant, but not too casual. Men need to look nice at the visa interview without looking too formal. Your interview outfit should not scream any one thing—you want them to pay attention to your application, not your outfit.

Overall stick with neutral colors and tones like white, tan, cream, gray, or navy blue.

A blazer with a button-down shirt combined with dark jeans or khaki pants is a great option for men.

A man wearing a blue blazer, and khaki pants for a US visa interview
A blazer, and button-down shirt tucked into khaki pants with a belt is a great choice for men, you can’t go wrong with a classy outfit.

A short or long-sleeved button-down shirt tucked into dark jeans or khaki pants without a blazer is also a good option that is semi-formal but not too casual—a great choice for men.

A Polo shirt preferably of a single color (somewhat smooth without being strident) again with dark jeans or khaki pants is another good option for men.

A man wearing an orange, single colored polo shirt with khaki pants and brown shoes while waiting for an American consulate visa interview
If you want something more simple, a single-colored polo shirt with khaki pants and brown shoes is another great option

A business suit without a tie (or with a tie if it makes you feel more comfortable) is always a safe option to give the impression you are very serious about the interview process.

Women’s Outfit Ideas for the US Embassy

Like the men’s dress code, you want to keep it professional but not too formal for your US embassy visa interview. You should look nice, in well-fitting clothes, but beyond that, it’s best to dress modestly and avoid clothing that is too revealing or that is too casual.

The suggested colors to wear for men are the same for women. Stick with neutral colors and tones like white, tan, cream, gray, or navy blue.

In colder climates fine sweaters are suitable attire also, especially when paired with the suggested dark jeans or khaki pants. Avoid discordant dyes or bright colors when choosing a sweater to wear.

A blazer with a formal blouse or an appropriate top (i.e. not sleeveless, too low cut, or cut off at the midriff), as well as dark jeans or pants, are a good option for women that is not too casual but still comfortable.

woman with both arm crossed while wearing a light blue blazer
 As well as for men, women can’t go wrong wearing a blazer, a shirt or a plain T-shirt with a pair of chinos pants. Like the image above, a good example of how to dress for a US Visa application interview for women

A casual but elegant dress is also an acceptable option for women to wear to a US Visa application interview.

woman sitting while wearing a dress, waiting for an US visa interview
A simple but elegant dress is another good option for women, don’t be afraid of using that lightly floral dress but a single-colored dress will get the job done!

Footwear

For footwear, brown shoes match well with just about any outfit a man could wear and any of the suggestions from above, with or without a blazer or jacket. 

Formal or semi-casual footwear is best, but avoid sneakers.

Be sure the footwear you choose is comfortable as you could be waiting a while for your interview to be called. And you want to be relaxed and confident in comfortable shoes that aren’t too tight or restricting for your feet.

Open-toe footwear is generally not recommended. But if sandals are considered ‘formal’ and appropriate wear in your country then this would be suitable as well. Just be sure they are clean.

Hygiene & Grooming 

For both males and females, it is important to show up to the interview well-groomed and this includes ensuring your fingernails are clean and trimmed. 

For women, your hair should be neat and clean and preferably tied up and out of your face. And keep your makeup simple and subtle. 

For men, a clean-shaven look is the best option. Or if you have a beard and facial hair it should be neatly cropped.

a man wearing a dark blue shirt, pants and black shoes in a light blue background
Men’s facial hair should be neatly trimmed for your US Visa application interview, to the point where you don’t look unkempt.

If you smoke, just try to avoid smoking before your interview so you don’t smell like cigarettes to the interviewer. 

Also, avoid alcohol at all costs before your interview. You may think it will help calm your nerves but smelling of alcohol presents a negative impression to your interviewer.

On the day of the interview, ensure you have showered and are clean, and arrive a half-hour before the appointment to have time to review documents and be prepared so you are relaxed and confident.

A breath mint before your interview really can’t do any harm either.

When it comes to perfume and cologne, keep it light and not too overpowering as some interviewers may find strong perfume or cologne nauseating. 

What not to wear to a US Visa Application Interview

As suggested earlier, dress modestly and avoid clothing that is too revealing.

For women, avoid miniskirts or very tight dresses and keep the length of dresses/skirts below the knee.

It is best to also not wear t-shirts or shirts with distractingly large words printed on them or material that is shiny or too bright.

Woman wearing a tight dress while holding a cigarette
The first impressions are important, so, avoid tight, revealing attire, and do not show up smelling like cigarettes or alcohol 

Avoid too many accessories or a lot of jewelry. 

Do not wear dirty or broken shoes with strident colors. 

Do not wear swimwear, singlets or vests, flip flops, or beachwear to your interview. This is way too casual and shows the interviewer that you don’t take the process seriously.

Nailing Your Visa Interview Outfit

The in-person interview for a US Visa application is the final step in your application process and it must be taken seriously. This is the point where the final decision will be made on whether you can go ahead and book flights to the US, so it’s important to get it right!

Try to approach this interview much like a job interview and dress appropriately. Remember keep your outfit presentable and tidy. 

The way you dress and the outfit you choose offers the first impression you give to the Consular official who will be interviewing you—before even the first question is asked.

Overall balancing comfort and elegance without being too formal is a good concept to keep in mind when preparing an outfit for the US embassy.

If you follow this advice you will be in the best position possible to appear as someone who takes the interview process seriously and is a person who is of good character. 

Your character is a crucial aspect of getting your application approved and how you dress is an immediate reflection of this so take the time to think about how you want to present yourself.

Disclosure: This blog post may contain affiliate links, which means that I may receive a commission for any purchases made through the links. Your trust is important to us, and we ensure that all products or services we recommend meet or exceed our editorial standards.

Last Updated on March 10, 2024

2 thoughts on “How to Get Dressed for a Visa Interview at the American Consulate

  1. Thanks so much for this great enlightenment. The last US visa interview I went for was actually a big mistake by my side, I had no issues with my dressing or supporting document, but I was over serious, to the extent that I couldn’t return the consular’s beautiful smile, as a result of that, he asked me just one simple question after checking my Passport and that was that!
    The question came after he looked at my international passport and understood that I just returned from the UK not quite long, he then asked me my purpose of traveling to the UK, I told him I went to the Uk on vacation, he then asked, I just came back from the United Kingdom on vacation, that I should at least stay a little while before traveling to the US or applying for visa to travel for another vacation, he advised me to reapply in few months time. I thanked him and walked away.

    I actually blame myself because I couldn’t cheer up, rather I frowned on him while he was smiling on me as I stepped in, at least I should have returned that smile.

    I think, this is also of utmost important during VIsa interviews.

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