How to Visit the United States

Опубликовал Admin
11-11-2020, 19:40
Whether you’re visiting family or vacationing in the United States, you’ll need to meet entry requirements for your country of origin. If you’re a citizen of a country that participates in the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), you’ll just need to fill out an ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization) application. If your country isn’t eligible, you’ll need to apply for a visitor visa, which can take several months. Upon arrival, present your passport and, if necessary, your visa. Fill out a customs declaration form, clear customs, then enjoy a wonderful trip!

Visiting the US from a VWP Country

  1. Use the US State Department’s visa wizard to find your requirements. Enter your country of origin and purpose of travel into the visa wizard, then click “Find a Visa.” The tool will let you know if your country participates in the VWP or if you need to apply for a visitor visa. As of December 2017, citizens of 38 countries are eligible to travel to the US under the VWP.
    • Find the visa wizard here:
    • Visitors traveling to the US under the VWP can stay without a visa for up to 90 days.
  2. Ensure you have a valid e-passport. In order to enter the US under the VWP, you must have an e-passport, which is a passport that contains an electronic chip. E-passports have a unique symbol on the front cover. It looks like a circle inscribed within a rectangle.
    • You’ll need your passport to fill out an ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization) application and to enter the US.
    • For some countries, your passport must be valid for 6 months beyond the duration of your trip. However, several dozen countries are exempt from the 6 month rule. If you’re exempt, your passport only needs to be valid during the length of your visit.
  3. Submit an ESTA application at least 72 hours before your trip. The US Customs and Border Protection recommends that visitors apply for ESTA at least 72 hours before travel, but you can apply any time before your visit. Authorization is valid for 2 years, and you can make multiple trips during that time. You’ll need to enter your passport, contact, and employment information, and pay a $14 (USD) application fee.
    • Usually, applicants receive a response within seconds of submitting an ESTA form. Once you’re authorized you’ll just need to present your passport and go through customs when you arrive in the US.
    • Complete your ESTA application here:

Applying for a Visitor’s Visa

  1. Begin the visa application process as soon as possible. In some countries, it can take at least 6 months to complete the visa application process. Fill out the online application and schedule your interview as far in advance as possible.
  2. Locate your US embassy or consulate and visit its website. Your nearby US embassy or consulate website includes specific application instructions for your country. You’ll need to identify your embassy or consulate location on your application, and you’ll need to schedule an interview on its website.
    • Locate the nearest US embassy or consulate here:
  3. Submit Form DS-160 online. Head to the visa application form on the US Department of State website, then select your embassy to start the application. You’ll need your passport, information about your purpose of travel, itinerary, employment information, and any other documents specified on your embassy or consulate’s website.
    • Begin your visa application here:
    • After submitting your application, you’ll receive a visa application confirmation page. Print this confirmation and bring it with you to the interview.
  4. Pay the visa application fee. Fees vary by country of origin, but are usually around $160 (USD). Depending on your country, you’ll either pay the fee at an authorized bank before your interview or at the interview itself. If you pay in advance, bring your receipt of payment to the interview.
  5. Upload a photograph that meets visa requirements with Form DS-160. When you submit Form DS-160, you’ll need to upload a color photo taken within the last 6 months. Similar to a passport photo, the visa photo needs to meet a variety of requirements, so it’s best to have a professional visa photo service take it.
    • If there’s a problem with your photo upload, you’ll have to bring a printed copy that meets all requirements to your interview.
  6. Schedule an interview with your embassy or consulate. Schedule your interview on the website of the nearest embassy or consulate. In some countries, you might have to wait up to 4 months for an interview. When you schedule the interview, you’ll have an option to check wait times for your embassy or consulate.
  7. Bring your passport, application confirmation, and other required documents to the interview. A foreign service officer will ask you questions about your trip and establish that you’re legally eligible to enter the US. Give them your passport, your printed visa application confirmation page, payment receipt (if applicable), and documents that show you’ll be able to return to your country of origin.
    • A letter from your current employer confirming your employment and bank statements can help prove that you can afford travel expenses and return to your country. Documents confirming your purpose of travel, such as a wedding invitation, will also be helpful.
    • Your passport will be returned by mail or courier service after your application is processed.
    • You’ll also be digitally fingerprinted during your interview.
  8. Allow at least 60 days for processing and shipping. Some applications require additional processing, which can take up to 60 days. You’ll find out if this is the case during your interview. Even if your application doesn’t require additional processing, it could still take several weeks for you to receive your visa and passport by mail or courier service.

Planning Your Trip to the US

  1. Choose a destination that suits your interests. The US is a vast country with thousands of miles of coastline, stunning geological features, quaint towns, and bustling cities. If you don't have a specific reason to visit, like a wedding or graduation, learn about American attractions and decide what to include in your itinerary. Start by looking up destinations organized by regions, states, and cities on
    • You could shop, catch a Broadway show, and get a bird's eye view from the top of the Empire State Building in New York City. Since the Northeast is densely populated, you could easily take day trips from New York to Boston, Philadelphia, or Washington, DC. If you're more interested in nature's wonder, hike the Grand Canyon or hit the slopes in Colorado. If you're a beach bum, head to California, the Gulf of Mexico, or the Atlantic Coast's Gulf Stream waters.
  2. Book travel arrangements. If you haven’t already, purchase your plane ticket or make other travel accommodations. Depending on your point of departure, you'll likely spend a lot of time on a plane. Pack a neck pillow, a good book, podcasts, music, and other sources of entertainment. Do your best to pass the time, and walk around and stretch regularly to avoid back or joint pain.
  3. Book a hotel or other accommodations, if necessary. If you’re not staying with relatives, arrange for a place to stay in advance of your trip. Shop for hotel room deals online or through your travel agent. You could also explore alternative options, such as an Airbnb vacation rental.
  4. Consider purchasing medical insurance. Medical treatment in the US is expensive if you're uninsured, and American healthcare can seem truly foreign if you're used to a universal insurance system. Taking out a medical insurance policy for travelers could save you thousands in the event of an emergency.
    • For example, suppose you break your ankle while skiing in Denver, Colorado. Without insurance, expect to pay at least $6,500 (USD).
  5. Exchange currency and learn about American pricing. Call your bank to ensure your credit cards function internationally, and exchange currency so you have cash just in case. For the best rate, exchange currency at your bank before your trip. When shopping or dining, keep in mind the listed price doesn't include sales tax, which is usually around 7 percent.
    • Additionally, it's customary to tip your server 15 to 20 percent at restaurants. In most states, servers make $2 to $3 per hour and depend on tips to make a living.

Arriving in the US

  1. Present your passport, visa, or other required documents upon arrival. Nearly all foreign nationals must present a valid passport upon arriving in the US. If your country of origin does not participate in the VWP, you’ll also need to present your visa. Procedures are slightly different for citizens of Canada, Bermuda, and Mexico.
    • If you’re a Canadian citizen, you don’t need to apply for ESTA. Canadian citizens traveling by land can present a valid passport or enhanced driver’s license (a type of secure government-issued ID). Canadian citizens traveling by air must present a passport.
    • Bermudian citizens do not need to apply for ESTA and only need to provide a valid passport.
    • If you’re a Mexican citizen, you can enter the United States with a valid passport along with a visitor visa or a Border Crossing Card. Apply for a Border Crossing Card at your nearby US embassy or consulate. It’s usually valid 10 years after issuance.
  2. Go through customs screening. Your passport, ESTA, visa, and other documentation don’t guarantee entry into the US. Upon arrival, a customs agent will ask you about your purpose of travel and other questions in order to verify your eligibility to enter the US.
  3. Complete a customs declaration form. Whether you’re a US citizen or foreign national, you must complete a declarations form. This provides information about who you are, why you’re traveling, and what you’re bringing into the country.
  4. Depart the US by your admitted-until or D/S date. When you clear customs, the officer will issue either an admission stamp or Form I-94 with an admitted until date or a Duration of Stay (D/S) date. You must depart the US by this date. Failure to do so could render you ineligible for future entry into the US.


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