Visitor visas, US
Qualifying for a Visitor Visa
Applying for a Visitor Visa
US Point of Entry
Visa Waiver Program
Other Temporary Visas
Permanent Residence in the U.S.
FOR A VISITOR VISA
TO COME TO AMERICA
While many people
have the desire to come and visit the United States of America,
many do not know how. Below is a general overview of the
necessary procedure to acquire a Visitor Visa to come to the
visitor visas must show that they qualify under provisions of
the Immigration and Nationality Act. The presumption in the law
is that every visitor visa applicant is an intending immigrant.
Therefore, applicants for visitor visas must overcome this
presumption by demonstrating that:
of their trip is to enter the U.S. for business, pleasure,
or medical treatment;
plan to remain for a specific, limited period; and
have a residence outside the U.S. as well as other binding
ties which will insure their return abroad at the end of the
APPLYING FOR A VISITOR VISA
visitor visas should generally apply at the American Embassy or
Consulate with jurisdiction over their place of permanent
residence. Although visa applicants may apply at any U.S.
consular office abroad, it may be more difficult to qualify for
the visa outside the country of permanent residence.
application Form OF-156, completed and signed.
valid for travel to the United States and with a validity
date at least six months beyond the applicant's intended
period of stay in the United States. If more than one person
is included in the passport, each person desiring a visa
must make an application;
photographs 1 and ½ inches square (37x37 mm) for each
applicant, showing full face, without head covering, against
a light background.
demonstrate that they are properly classifiable as visitors
under U.S. law. Evidence which shows the purpose of the trip,
intent to depart the United States, and arrangements made to
cover the costs of the trip may be provided. It is impossible to
specify the exact form the evidence should take since
applicants' circumstances vary greatly.
to the U.S. on business can present a letter from the U.S.
business firm indicating the purpose of the trip, the bearer's
intended length of stay and the firm's intent to defray travel
costs. Persons traveling to the U.S. for pleasure may use
letters from relatives or friends in the U.S. whom the applicant
plans to visit or confirmation of participation in a planned
to the U.S. for medical treatment should have a statement from a
doctor or institution concerning proposed medical treatment.
who do not have sufficient funds to support themselves while in
the U.S. must present convincing evidence that an interested
person will provide support. Visitors are not permitted to
accept employment during their stay in the U.S. Depending on
individual circumstances, applicants may provide other evidence
substantiating the trip's purpose and specifying the nature of
binding obligations, such as family ties or employment, which
would compel their return abroad.
A person whose
passport contains a previously issued visitor visa should
inquire about special expedited procedures available at most
consular offices for issuance of a new visitor visa.
canceled, a visa is valid until its expiration date. Therefore,
if the traveler has a valid U.S. visitor visa in an expired
passport, he or she may use it along with a new valid passport
for travel and admission to the United States.
If there is a fee
for issuance of the visa, it is equal as nearly as possible to
the fee charged to United States citizens by the applicant's
country of nationality.
obtain a visa by the willful misrepresentation of a material
fact, or fraud, may result in the permanent refusal of a visa or
denial of entry into the United States.
If the consular
officer should find it necessary to deny the issuance of a
visitor visa, the applicant may apply again if there is new
evidence to overcome the basis for the refusal. In the absence
of new evidence, consular officers are not obliged to re-examine
Foreign visitors to the United
States complete an I-94, if they hold a valid visa, or an I-94W
if traveling visa free under the Visa Waiver Program. The card
is obtained from the transportation carrier (airline, ship etc.)
and must be surrendered to an inspector of the Department of
Homeland Security, United States Citizenship and Immigration
Services (USCIS) at the port of entry into the United States
when applying for admission. The inspector separates the bottom
part of the card and attaches it to the passport. The part
attached to the passport notes the date of entry to the United
States and authorized period the visitor may remain in the
country. When a visitor departs the United States, the
transportation carrier representative, usually at the check-in
counter, should remove the I-94 or I-94W from the passport.
Sometimes due to an oversight the card is not removed. If this
occurs, the passenger's departure from the United States will
not be registered with the USCIS.
You also need to provide evidence of your departure from the
United States. The evidence can come from a variety of sources,
including but not limited to:
Entry or departure stamps in
your passport to indicate you entered another country after
you departed the United States (please copy all passport
pages that are not completely blank and include the
biographic page containing your photograph);
Dated pay slips or vouchers
from your employer to indicate that you worked in another
country after you departed the United States;
Dated bank records showing
transactions in your home country to indicate that you were
in another country after your left the United States;
School records showing your
attendance at a school outside the United States to indicate
you were in another country after you left the United
Dated credit card receipts
with the credit card number deleted for purchases you made
after you departed the United States to indicate you were in
another country after you left the United States.
Please send legible copies or the
original material where possible. If you send original materials
please retain a copy for your records; the originals will not be
returned to you. It will assist the USCIS if you include an
explanation letter in English.
- Original boarding passes you
used to depart the United States;
If the I-94 or I-94W departure card is not in your possession,
you should write to ACS - USCIS SBU, P.O Box 7125, London, KY
40742-7125, U.S.A. with the following information:
You must also include evidence of
your departure as noted above.
- date and place of birth;
- country of citizenship;
- date of arrival in the U.S.;
- date of departure from the
- airline or carrier departed
- flight number or name of
- If departure was via a land
border please enter "land" instead of carrier information.
U.S. PORT OF ENTRY
be aware that a visa does not guarantee entry into the United
States. The U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS)
has authority to deny admission. Also, the period for which the
bearer of a visitor visa is authorized to remain in the United
States is determined by the INS, not the consular officer. At
the port of entry, an INS official must authorize the traveler's
admission to the U.S. At that time the INS Form I-94, Record of
Arrival-Departure, which notes the length of stay permitted, is
validated. Those visitors who wish to stay beyond the time
indicated on their Form I-94 must contact the INS to request
Form I-539, Application to Extend Status. The decision to grant
or deny a request for extension of stay is made solely by the
VISA WAIVER PROGRAM
to the U.S. for tourism or business for 90 days or less from
qualified countries may be eligible to visit the U.S. without a
visa. Currently, 29 countries participate in the Visa Waiver
Program: Andorra, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium,
Brunei, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland,
Italy, Japan, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Monaco, the
Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, San Marino,
Singapore, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United
Kingdom and Uruguay. Visitors entering on the Visa Waiver
Program cannot work or study while in the U.S. and cannot stay
longer than 90 days or change their status to another category.
OTHER TYPES OF TEMPORARY
Traders and Investors ("E-1" & "E-2")
Agricultural Workers ("H-2A")
Skilled and Unskilled Workers ("H-2B")
Representatives of Foreign Information Media ("I")
U.S. Citizens ("K-1")
Extraordinary Ability ("O")
Cultural Exchange Visitors ("Q")
Mexican Professionals Under NAFTA ("TN")
RESIDENCE IN THE UNITED STATES
residence in the U.S. is generally based on either a family
relationship with a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident or
an employment based petition. For more information on permanent
residence in the U.S., please see our web site article on
permanent residence at .
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