Thinking of Traveling to the US and need some guidelines on how to gain approval? Read on for a complete Guide.
There are different ways to gain approval to travel to the US but it all depends on your reason for traveling.
Generally, a citizen of a foreign country who wishes to enter the United States must first obtain a visa, either a nonimmigrant visa for a temporary stay or an immigrant visa for permanent residence.
Visitor visas are nonimmigrant visas for persons who want to enter the United States temporarily for business (visa category B-1), for tourism (visa category B-2), or for a combination of both purposes (B-1/B-2).
Your reason for travel will determine the type of visa you need to enter the U.S. Some of the most commonly requested visas are:
- Immigrant Visa for permanent residency tooltip
- Visitor visas for tourism or business
- Fiancé(e) visa to marry your U.S. citizen fiancé(e), and live in the U.S.
- Visas for students
- Business or professional visas for citizens of Canada and Mexico
- Transit visa for traveling through the U.S. on your way to visit another country
Visa Application process
There are several steps to apply for a visa. The order of these steps and how you complete them may vary by the U.S. Embassy or Consulate. Please consult the instructions on the U.S. Embassy or Consulate website.
Complete The Online Visa Application
- Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application, Form DS-160 – Learn more about completing the DS-160. You must: 1) complete the online visa application and 2) print the application form confirmation page to bring to your interview.
- Photo- You will upload your photo while completing the online Form DS-160. Your photo must be in the format explained in the Photograph Requirements.
Schedule An Interview
Interviews are generally required for visa applicants with certain limited exceptions below. Consular officers may require an interview of any visa applicant.
If you are age 13 and young Generally an interview is not required. But Age 14-79, an interview is Required (some exceptions for renewals)
80 and older, interview not required
You should schedule an appointment for your visa interview at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in the country where you live. You may schedule your interview at another U.S. Embassy or Consulate, but be aware that it may be more difficult to qualify for a visa outside of the country where you live.
Wait times for interview appointments vary by location, season, and visa category, so you should apply for your visa early. Review the interview wait time for the location where you will apply
Prepare For Your Interview
- Fees – Pay the non-refundable visa application fee, if you are required to pay it before your interview. If your visa is approved, you may also need to pay a visa issuance fee, if applicable to your nationality.
- Review the instructions available on the website of the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you will apply to learn more about fee payment.
Gather Required Documentation
Gather and prepare the following required documents before your visa interview:
- Passport valid for travel to the United States – Your passport must be valid for at least six months beyond your period of stay in the United States (unless exempt by country-specific agreements). Each individual who needs a visa must submit a separate application, including any family members listed in your passport.
- Nonimmigrant Visa Application, Form DS-160 confirmation page.
- Application fee payment receipt, if you are required to pay before your interview.
- Photo – You will upload your photo while completing the online Form DS-160. If the photo upload fails, you must bring one printed photo in the format explained in the Photograph Requirements.
Additional Documentation May Be Required
Review the instructions for how to apply for a visa on the website of the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you will apply. Additional documents may be requested to establish if you are qualified. For example, additional requested documents may include evidence of:
- The purpose of your trip,
- Your intent to depart the United States after your trip, and/or
- Your ability to pay all costs of the trip.
Evidence of your employment and/or your family ties may be sufficient to show the purpose of your trip and your intent to return to your home country.
If you cannot cover all the costs for your trip, you may show evidence that another person will cover some or all costs for your trip.
Note: Visa applicants must qualify on the basis of the applicant’s residence and ties abroad, rather than assurances from U.S. family and friends.
A letter of invitation or Affidavit of Support is not needed to apply for a visitor visa. If you choose to bring a letter of invitation or Affidavit of Support to your interview, please remember it is not one of the factors used in determining whether to issue or deny the visa.
Attend Your Visa Interview
A consular officer will interview you to determine whether you are qualified to receive a visitor visa. You must establish that you meet the requirements under U.S. law to receive a visa.
Ink-free, digital fingerprint scans are taken as part of the application process. They are usually taken during your interview, but this varies based on location.
After your visa interview, the consular officer may determine that your application requires further administrative processing. The consular officer will inform you if this is required.
After the visa is approved, you may need to pay a visa issuance fee (if applicable to your nationality) and make arrangements for the return of the passport and visa to you.
Procedures for Entering the United States
When you arrive in the United States, you must show valid travel documents as part of the entry process.
The documents you need and whether your passport needs to be valid for six months after your travel dates depend on the country you are arriving from and your citizenship or status.
An individual on a visitor visa (B1/B2) is not permitted to accept employment or work in the United States.
There is no guarantee you will be issued a visa. Do not make final travel plans or buy tickets until you have a visa.
A valid U.S. visa in an expired passport is still valid. Unless canceled or revoked, a visa is valid until its expiration date.
If you have a valid visa in your expired passport, do not remove it from your expired passport.
You may use your valid visa in your expired passport along with a new valid passport for travel and admission to the United States.