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United States is a country composed of 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, and various possessions. It is the world’s largest economy by nominal GDP and the second-largest by purchasing power parity.
Visitors to the United States must obtain a visa from one of the United States diplomatic missions unless they come from one of the visa-exempt countries or Visa Waiver Program countries.
Citizens of 38 countries and territories are eligible for visa-free entry into the United States under the VWP:
Visitors may stay for 90 days in the United States which also includes the time spent in Canada, Mexico, Bermuda, or the islands in the Caribbean if the arrival was through the United States.
There are several visas that a foreign national may apply for entering the United States, either temporarily or permanently. A few of the commonly utilized visa categories are outlined below.
Available to all visitors coming to the U.S for business or pleasure. B-1 business visitor visas are for a short duration and must not involve local employment. Nationals of certain countries may be eligible to visit the US for up to 90 days without obtaining a visa.
Read more details: B2 visa - US tourist visa
Investors and traders and their employees may receive visas to carry on their businesses in the US if their home country has a commercial treaty with the US conferring visa eligibility. Read more about E2 visa. Read more Complete guides for E2 visa
Persons seeking to pursue a full course of study at a school in the United States may be eligible for a visa for the course of their study plus, in some cases, a period for practical training in their field of study.
Read more about: US student visa
Professional workers with at least a bachelor's degree (or its equivalent work experience) may be eligible for a non-immigrant visa if their employers can demonstrate that they are to be paid at least the prevailing wage for the position. Read more about H-1B visa types.
Persons coming to the US in an approved exchange program may be eligible for the J-1 Exchange Visitor's visa. J-1 programs often cover students, short-term scholars, business trainees, teachers, professors and research scholars, specialists, international visitors, government visitors, camp counselors and au pairs. In some cases, participation in a J-1 program will be coupled with the requirement that the beneficiary spend at least two years outside of the US before being permitted to switch to a different non-immigrant visa or to permanent residency. We regularly handle the application process for seeking a waiver to the home residency requirement that applies to many J-1 visa holders.
A Fiance(e) of a US citizen is eligible for a non-immigrant visa conditioned on the conclusion of the marriage within 90 days. Read more about K1 visa
L-1 visas are available to executives, mangers and specialized knowledge employees transferring to their employer's U.S. affiliate. Executives and managers holding L-1 visas may be eligible for permanent residency without the need to a labor certification.
The O-1 category is set aside for foreign nationals with extraordinary ability. This includes entertainers, athletes, scientists, and businesspersons.
Read more: US Temporary Worker Visa
This category covers athletes, artists and entertainers.
Religious workers may be eligible for an R-1 visa.
A special visa category has been set up for nationals of Canada and Mexico under the provisions of the North American Free Trade Agreement and the U.S.-Canada Free Trade Agreement.
Individuals in this category can petition for permanent residency without having to go through the time consuming labor certification process.
Visa holders in this category normally must have a job offer and the potential employer must complete the labor certification process. The labor certification involves a testing of the job market to demonstrate that the potential visa holder is not taking a job away from a U.S. worker. In cases where an individual can show that his entry is in the national interest, the job offer and labor certification requirements can be waived.
Visa holders in this category normally must have a job offer and the potential employer must complete the labor certification process.
Ministers of religion are eligible for permanent residency.
Read more: US Immigrant visa
There are some documents that the embassy or consulate of the US requires from every applicant no matter what kind of visa they wish to obtain. Be careful to have all these documents when you hand in your visa application.
The documents required for US visa application are the following:
Additional documents may be required by the embassy/consulate depending on the types of visa and in case of necessary.
You should bring the following documents to your interview. Original documents are always preferred over photocopies and you must bring these documents with you to the interview. Do not fax, email or mail any supporting documents to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate.
Current proof of income, tax payments, property or business ownership, or assets.
Your travel itinerary and/or other explanation about your planned trip.
A letter from your employer detailing your position, salary, how long you have been employed, any authorized vacation, and the business purpose, if any, of your U.S. trip.
Criminal/court records pertaining to any arrest or conviction anywhere, even if you completed your sentence or were later pardoned.
Additionally, based on your purpose of travel, you should consider bringing the following:
Bring your latest school results, transcripts and degrees/diplomas. Also bring evidence of financial support such as monthly bank statements, fixed deposit slips, or other evidence.
Bring an employment letter from your employer and pay slips from the most recent three months.
Businessmen and company directors
Bring evidence of your position in the company and remuneration.
Visiting a relative
Bring photocopies of your relative’s proof of status (e.g. Green Card, naturalization certificate, valid visa, etc).
Previous visitors to the United States
If you were previously in the United States, any documents attesting to your immigration or visa status.
Before you apply for US visa, check the processing time required for the visa to be issued. Once you are aware of all the details regarding the application, you can go ahead with the following procedure:
Complete the visa application form. Each types of visa will have different form. Remember to use correct form for your types of visa you want to apply for. Gather all required documents and keep them ready for submission.
Submit your information as well as details about your purpose of visit. You must fill in the sections for your visa and then submit it online
Schedule your appointment with nearest US embassy or consulate in your country.
Visit the U.S. Embassy or Consulate on the date and time of your visa interview. You must bring all necessary documents with you
The fee that applicants should pay depends on the type of visa one applies for.
US visa processing fees was adjusted lastly on April 13, 2012 by the Department of State. The most categories of non immigrant visa processing fees increased, the fee for E visas (treaty-traders and treaty-investors) and K visas (for fiancé(e)s of U.S.citizens) decreased.
Nonimmigrant Visa Processing Fees
Immigrant Visa Processing Fees
Applicants will be charged the fee in effect on the day of payment.
To apply for a US visa, you should fill the visa application form online and submit it.
If you make an application in person, it will take around 3-5 working days for processing. For persons of Indian origin, US citizens who require a reference and all non-US citizens, and for short term visas, it will take at least one to two weeks for processing. It may take longer in some cases.
The department of state instruct consular officers to issued maximum validity visas to the extent possible. It saves time for both consulates and applicants. The maximum validity for B1/B2 visa is ten years. This is based in principle on reciprocity. A person who has been issued a 6 month visa and used them properly will nomally be issued a ten ear visa at the next time they apply.
Apply early! Although the majority of applications are processed and ready to pick up within a few business days, some applications will require administrative processing. We cannot predict in advance which applications will require administrative processing, nor do we know how long it will take. Please apply at least 6-8 weeks before you plan to travel, and do not book plane tickets or hotels until you have a visa.
You must possess a passport valid for travel to the United States with a validity date at least six months beyond your intended period of stay in the United States
As is standard practice around the world, no third parties are permitted to attend the nonimmigrant visa interview. This rule also applies to third parties who are U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents. However, you can be accompanied by an additional person if:
You are a minor child: Applicants under 17 years old must be accompanied to their interviews by a parent or legal guardian. Accompanying parents must present the child’s birth certificate and the parent’s identification card or passport. Accompanying legal guardians must present a government-issued legal guardianship document and the guardian’s identification card or passport.
You are 70 years old and older or require special assistance: Applicants 70 years old and older or requiring special assistance may be accompanied by an additional person. The additional person must present their identification card or passport for access.
The fee that you paid is an application fee. Everyone who applies for a U.S. visa anywhere in the world must pay this fee, which covers the cost of processing your application. This fee is non-refundable regardless of whether you are issued a visa or not, since your application was processed to conclusion.
We will introduce you some frequently question that you must ansers in the interview. Try to anser all questions fluentlty and practice at home. If you can ansers fluently in the interview, your visa will have more chance to be accepted by officers.