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Visa Process

U.S. visas for foreign citizens to travel to the U.S.

Before traveling to the U.S., a citizen of a foreign country must generally obtain a nonimmigrant visa for temporary stay or an immigrant visa for permanent residence. The type of visa you will need is based on the purpose of your travel.

United States citizens don’t need a U.S. visa for travel, but when planning travel abroad may need a visa issued by the embassy of the country they wish to visit. For more information, review Americans Traveling Abroad on the left.

Visit Business Visitors or Tourists Study Students or Exchanges Work Workers Temporarily in the U.S. Immigrate Living Permanently in the U.S. More Useful Resources: More visa types for temporary stay

Am I eligible to travel without a visa?

What is a visa?

A citizen of a foreign country who seeks to enter the United States (U.S.) generally must first obtain a U.S. visa, which is placed in the traveler’s passport, a travel document issued by the traveler’s country of citizenship. Certain international travelers may be eligible to travel to the U.S. without a visa if they meet the requirements for visa-free travel.

U.S. Citizens Traveling Aboard:

U.S. citizens don’t need a U.S. visa for travel, but when planning travel abroad may need a visa issued by the embassy of the country they wish to visit.

How Can I use a Visa to Enter the U.S.?

Having a U.S. visa allows you to travel to a port of entry, airport or land border crossing, and request permission of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Customs and Border Protection (CBP) inspector to enter the U.S. While having a visa does not guarantee entry to the U.S., it does indicate a consular officer at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad has determined you are eligible to seek entry for that specific purpose. DHS/CBP inspectors, guardians of the nation’s borders, are responsible for admission of travelers to the U.S., for a specified status and period of time. DHS also has responsibility for immigration matters while you are present in the U.S.
 

What Types of Visas Are There?

The type of visa you must obtain is defined by U.S. immigration law, and relates to the purpose of your travel.

There are two main categories of U.S. visas:

  • Nonimmigrant visas: For travel to the U.S. on a temporary basis.
  • Immigrant visas: For travel to live permanently in the U.S.
Source:Bureau of Consular Affairs,
U.S. State Department / TravelState.Org