Visas Español

Visa on passport
Passport with US stamped visa

What is a Visa?
Generally, a citizen of a foreign country who wishes to enter the United States must first obtain a visa, either a nonimmigrant visa for temporary stay, or an immigrant visa for permanent residence.

The visa allows a foreign citizen, to travel to the United States port-of entry and request permission of the U.S. immigration inspector to enter the U.S. The "visitor" visa is a nonimmigrant visa for persons desiring to enter the United States temporarily for business (B-1) and for pleasure or medical treatment (B-2). As examples, if the purpose of your planned travel is recreational in nature, including tourism, amusement, visits with friends or relatives, rest, medical treatment, and activities of a fraternal, social, or service nature, then a vistor visa (B-2) would be the appropriate type of visa for your travel. As additional examples, if the purpose for your planned travel is to consult with business associates, travel for a scientific, educational, professional or business convention, or conference on specific dates, settle an estate, or negotiate a contract, then a business (B-1) visitor visa would be the appropriate type of visa for your travel.

Changes introduced shortly after September 11, 2001 involve extensive and ongoing review of visa issuing practices as they relate to our national security. Visa applications are now subject to a greater degree of scrutiny than in the past. So it is important to apply for your visa well in advance of your travel departure date.

Foreign travelers who are citizens from certain eligible countries, may also be able to visit the U.S. without a visa on the Visa Waiver Program. Review the information below about Visa Waiver.
Persons planning to travel to the U.S. for a different purpose such as students, temporary workers, crewmen, journalists, etc., must apply for a different visa in the appropriate category.

Most Canadian citizens and many citizens from Visa Waiver Program countries can come to the U.S. without a visa if they meet certain requirements. Visa waiver travelers from ALL 27 Visa Waiver Program countries must present a machine-readable passport at the U.S. port of entry to enter the U.S. without a visa, otherwise a U.S. visa is required. See important information about the 10/26/05 digital photograph and 10/26/06 e-passport requirements for VWP travelers.

Nonimmigrant visas are for international travelers, (citizens of other countries), coming to the U.S. temporarily. This visa allows you to travel to a U.S. port-of-entry (airport, for example) and request permission of the Department of Homeland Security immigration inspector to enter the U.S. A visa does not guarantee entry into the United States.

International travelers come to the U.S. for a wide variety of reasons, including tourism, business, medical treatment and certain types of temporary work. The type of visa needed is defined by immigration law, and relates to the principal purpose of your travel. While in the U.S., temporary visitors are restricted to the activity or reason for which their nonimmigrant visa was issued, with few exceptions. For an overview of the types of nonimmigrant visas available under immigration law, The Consular Officer at your embassy or consulate will decide what kind of visa you need, when you apply.

Visa Types for Immigrants:

In general, in order to be eligible to apply for an immigrant visa, a foreign citizen must be sponsored by a U.S. citizen relative(s) or by a prospective employer. Unlike most other immigrant categories, Immediate Relatives are not subject to numerical limits under immigration law. Major immigrant categories are:
Immediate Relatives
Special Immigrants
Family-sponsored
Employer-sponsored


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