Most foreign visitors to the U.S. need a visa even for short-term stays. Being prepared makes the process go more smoothly. The U.S. gives either non-immigrant (short-term) or immigrant visas. Non-immigrant visas are for tourists, business travelers, students, those seeking medical treatment or temporary workers. Immigrant visas are for foreigners who wish to live permanently in the USA. Some nationalities do not need a visa to enter the U.S. Find out the requirements for your specific country.
Things You'll Need
- Identifying documentation
- Visa fees
- Sufficient funds to cover your stay
Provide documentation that you do not want to stay in the U.S. permanently. This includes evidence of the purpose for your trip (business, medical, etc.), of your binding ties to your home country, and your funds to provide for yourself while you are away.
Fill out the online application form. (See Resources)
Apply at your local U.S. embassy or consulate. You will need to have filled out the online application. You will also need a valid passport and 2X2 photo. Applicants between the ages of 14 and 79 will need to set up an interview at the consular office. Wait for the visa to be processed.
Determine if you qualify for immigrant status. Most immigrant visas require that applicants be sponsored by a U.S. citizen or business. Immigrant visa types fall into the following categories: Immediate Relative and Family Sponsored, Employer Sponsored and Special Sponsored (interpreters, religious workers, etc.).
File a petition for an immigrant visa. Follow the requirements for your type of visa. This is a complicated application and it may benefit you to have an immigration attorney.
Show documentation once your immigrant petition has been approved. This can include an affidavit of support to show how you will pay your expenses, birth certificate, police reports, marriage/divorce certificate, a medical exam and an interview.
Most citizens of Canada do not need a visa to enter the U.S. for temporary travel.
Mexican citizens can get a Border Crossing Card for short visits.
Citizens of Bermuda do not need a visa for travel under 180 days.
Some nationalities can apply for a Visa Waiver Program for trips shorter than 90 days. (See Resources)
- Photo Credit US Flag image by dwight9592 from Fotolia.com
- Bureau of Consular Affairs: New DS-160: Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application
- Bureau of Consular Affairs: Immigrants to the U.S.
- Bureau of Consular Affairs: Visa Information for Immigrants
- Bureau of Consular Affairs: Border Countries: Canada, Mexico and Bermuda
- Bureau of Consular Affairs: Visa Waiver Program
- Tourist Visa Application Forms
- Legal Documents Needed to Enter Canada From the U.S.A.
- Mexico Tourist Visa Requirements
- Who Needs a Visa to Enter the USA?
- How to Get a Visa
- How to Sponsor Someone to Visit the USA
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