The Process of Obtaining a Visa to Enter the United States
Are you looking to get a visa to enter the United States? Almost 8.8 million non-immigrant visas were issued in 2019 alone. You may need to look at the website for the U.S. embassy or consulate in your country, but the following guidelines should be sufficient to get you started.
But before you do, you may need to make sure that you are going to have documentation that the U.S. consulate can read. If your documents are not in English, you will need to use translation services so that your application can be processed.
What type of visas are available?
Foreign nationals require a visa to enter the United States. You can apply for either an immigrant or non-immigrant visa type. Immigrant visas are for people who intend to live permanently in the United States. Non-immigrant visas are for people who have permanent residence outside the United Statesbut wish to visit or reside in the United States for a given period.
There are different classifications of non-immigrant visas, which we describe below, but you can also learn more on the State Department’s website.
(B) Visitor (Business, Tourist, Medical Treatment): A visitor visa is a non-immigrant visa for people who wish to enter the United States on a temporary basis. Business reasons under a B1 visa may include attendingbusiness events (B1), such as professional meetings or conferences. You can also get a B2 visa for travel for pleasure, including vacations or visits with family members, or for medical treatment. Another option is a combination of both (B1/B2) and purposes (B1/B2) for a period of up to six months.
Anyone can apply for a B1 visa for business or B2 for tourism.
- The U.S. visa application form (DS-160) must be completed online.
- The U.S. visa application process requires an interview with the embassy or consulate.
- The U.S. visa can be used for tourism, business or medical purposes. It is required for entry by air, sea or land borders of the United States.
- Change of status is allowed.
- Validity of the U.S. visa is 1-10 years.
- You can pick up your passport with the approved visa at the nearest consulate office.
(C) U.S. Transit: Individuals traveling between two foreign countries who must make a connecting flight in the U.S. during their trip.
Another option is to receive a Study Visa. These can be offered to academic or language students,and non-academic or technical students.
You can also receive an Exchange Visitor visa (J). These visas are non-immigrant visas for people who have been approved for visitor exchanges in the United States.
Another option is to apply for a Work Visa. A Work Visa may be given if you are a:
- (D) Crew Member.
- Media Member and Journalist.
- (E1/E2) Treaty Trader/Investor.
- (H, L, O, P, Q, R) Temporary Worker/Employee or Intern.
There are a few other non-immigrant visa categories. These categories include:
- (T) Victim of Human Trafficking
- (U) Victim of Criminal Activity
To whom should the visa application be submitted?
Here are some of the requirements to obtain a visa. These guidelines should prove helpful, regardless of the type of visa that you are applying for.
1: Select your visa
You must first decide which visa you need, as there are different types of visas. The most frequently issued visa is the tourist visa, type B, which allows you to stay in the United States for up to 90 days.
2: Fill out your visa
Once you know your visa type, you must fill out the DS-160 application form to begin the process. You get it from the U.S. embassy (or consulate) website. More information about the DS-160 form can be found on the website.
3: Digital login at the embassy
Next, you need to create a user account on the website of the embassy or consulate and upload aphotograph with specific demographic information and documents verifying your identity.
4: Provide an address for the receipt of documents
You must indicate the place where you want your passport to arrive with the American visa. You can pick it up at any of the offices run by the issuing jurisdiction in your country. You can offer to pick it up at the office in person. You can also ask for it to be delivered to your home, but there may be an additional cost.
When you fill out the form, you will receive a confirmation code to make the payment. You can pay by credit card on the same website of the embassy or consulate. You can also pay in cash at a designated location and the payment will be processed in a few working days in most countries.
6: Make the appointment
Once the payment has been registered, you will be able to request an appointment at the day and time of your choice with the U.S. embassy.