Do you know that if you have problems filling out the online United States visa application form, you can turn to “a real human” for help – not an automated disembodied voice? He or she is just a phone call away!

The many pages you have to fill and questions you need to answer might seem like an impossible task but all it takes is patience. After all, many thousands have managed to do it successfully.

In 2014, over 81,000 Malaysians visited the country. Of that number, over 70% visited for the purpose of leisure, the rest for business purposes.

With about 8,000 Malaysians studying in the United States, families generally visit at least once a year, notes the US Department of Commerce. These visiting family members make up the bulk of the total number of Malaysian visitors along with group travellers, followed by others, couples and singles.

There are a number of myths with regard to visa applications by Malaysians being rejected, especially if you are a Muslim. According to the statistics released by the US Department of Commerce, 42,000 Malaysians apply for US visas every year – of that, 96% is approved.

And 99% of visas are ready the next day.

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Here are a few other myths addressed by the US Commercial Service Malaysia:

Myth: “I need six months validity on my visa to travel.” – Nope. Airlines need to see that your passport is valid for six months. But you can use your visa up until its expiration date.

Myth: “The US Embassy limits the number of visas we can issue each year.” – Not true. There is no limit. In fact, we’d like to double the number of visas we issue to Malaysians!

Myth: “I need an invitation letter.” – You do not need an invitation letter to qualify for a visa. It may help in some circumstances if it’s hard to explain your trip, but we don’t even ask in most instances.

Myth: “I need to have RM50,000 in savings.” – Really, you don’t need a set amount of money to qualify for a visa. We just want to know if you can pay for your trip.

Myth: “I must speak English at the interview.” – In fact, we are happy to offer interviews in English, Bahasa Malaysia, and Mandarin.

Below is a quick how-to on applying for a United States Visa provided by the US Embassy in Kuala Lumpur.

Step 1 – Pay the application (MRV) fee. There are several payment options, including cash at any Malaysian branch stipulated by the US Embassy, online transfer or via ATM transfer. For which applies in your case, see www.ustraveldocs.com/my/my-niv-paymentinfo.asp

Step 2 – Obtain a visa photo. See www.ustraveldocs.com/my/my-niv-photoinfo.html for requirements. This photo must have a white background!

Remember that photos must follow the requirements on the website- 2in X 2in on a white background. We cannot accept blue backgrounds and will have to send applicants away to get a new one if that is what they bring to the embassy. If you cannot scan the photo in from home, we are happy to do it when you come to your appointment. Just bring the appropriate photograph with you to your appointment.

Step 3 – Complete the visa application online at http://ceac.state.gov/genniv/. Print the Confirmation Page when finished.

Step 4 – Go to www.ustraveldocs.com/my to make an appointment for an interview at the embassy, or call 03-2788 5000. (You must wait at least four hours after paying the fee). When making an appointment, you will also choose where you want your passport sent.

*If you’re unsure of anything, use the visa information call centre – 03-2788 5000. You will always talk to a person (no computers!) and they have operators who speak Mandarin, Cantonese, Bahasa Malaysia and English. There is help for everyone.

Michigan freeway interchange.

An interchange in Michigan. Filling out the US visa application form might seem daunting but it’s a matter of following the instructions like the signs on the interchange. Photo; WIKIMEDIA COMMONS/Michigan Department of Transportation

Step 5 – Come to the Embassy on the appointed day. Plan to arrive early.

*The line also goes much quicker for people who do not bring electronics and large bags with them. Leave your mobile phones in your car or at home (if you can). Only bring the documents you need for your appointment.

Step 6 – If your visa is approved, it will be returned to you at the address you chose in Step 4.

*Apply early, not close to your departure date! Most passports are returned within a few days, but at times, additional processing is needed. Plan ahead.

Further information is available at www.ustraveldocs.com/my.

To encourage more Malaysians to visit, the United States Embassy in Kuala Lumpur and Brand USA launched the Visit USA Malaysia Program, with the objective of connecting the Malaysian travel industry and Malaysian travellers with support and resources for travel to the United States. The programme was launched during the Matta Fair that was held from March 13 to 15.

For more information about the Visit USA Malaysia Program, please contact United States Embassy Kuala Lumpur (Tel: 03-2158 5000 / e-mail: office.kualalumpur@trade.gov)