How to Get a Visa to Enter the USA


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

  • Passport
  • Photos
  • Identifying documentation
  • Visa fees
  • References
  • Sufficient funds to cover your stay

Non-Immigrant Visas

  • 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.

Immigrant Visas

  • 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.


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