Last Updated on 09/26/2014
What is a Visa?
A visa is issued by a U.S. Embassy or Consulate. A visa gives you permission to apply for admission to the United States; it does not guarantee entry. An immigration inspector at the U.S. port of entry will determine your eligibility for entry into the United States.
Who Needs a Visa?
Anyone who is not eligible to enter the United States visa free under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), or is not exempt from the visa requirement.
Visa-Free Travel under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP)
Citizens of countries that participate in the Visa Waiver Program are exempt from the visa requirement when traveling to the United States for tourism or business for up to 90 days. Visa Waiver Program travelers must have 1. an approved Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) and 2. a valid biometric (reddish Hungarian passports issued after January 15, 2008 are biometric) prior to boarding a carrier to travel by air or sea to the United States. Please note: Travelers who hold dual citizenship with the United States must enter and depart the United States on U.S. passports.
What Types of Visas are Available?
- Non-immigrant visas
Non-Immigrant Visas (NIV) are for international travelers (citizens of other countries), coming to the Unites States temporarily. International travelers come to the U.S. for a wide variety of reasons, including tourism, study, business, medical treatment and certain types of temporary work.
- Immigrant visas
An immigrant visa is required of anyone who wishes to enter the United States to reside there permanently, whether or not that person plans to seek employment in the United States.
As of February 2, 2014, all information about non-immigrant visas and how to apply for them is available at: Visa Information and Appointments
Diversity Visa Program Scammers Sending Fraudulent Emails and Letters (State Department warning)
Visa Waiver Program (ESTA)
Electronic System for Travel Authorization - Get It and Go
Video by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security - wmv, 6.3 MB
(in English with English captions)