Visa Requirements for The United States

By Aaditee Kulkarni on Feb 13, 2019
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The United States of America (USA) is a North American country covering a major part of the continent. Often called “Land of Dreams”, your American sojourn will unfurl with surprises for everyone. There are eclectic cities like Las Vegas, Miami, and New York City; then there are surprising and serene small towns like Carmel-by-the-Sea and Galena. If you are a road-tripper, the country’s 4 million miles of highways will lead you to many destinations unheard of. In the mood for romance, the oceans that lie on both side of the USA have some of the most spectacular island nations. And these islands provide nearly endless opportunities for relaxation and exploration. Music-lover? Food-lover? USA has got it all covered! 

If you are planning to visit the USA, chances are you will require a visa to enter The States, unless you are a permanent citizen of one of the countries under the US Visa Waiver Program. Don’t know where to start? This US visa guide will help you understand the basics of applying for and obtaining a US visa. 

  • If you wish to enter the United States of America, you must obtain a visa (irrespective of the purpose of visit) unless you satisfy one of the following conditions:
  • You are a permanent resident of the U.S.
  • You are a citizen of the Compact of Free Association states: the Federated States of Micronesia, the Marshall Islands, and Palau
  • You are a citizen of Canada, including those applying for TN status at the border
  • You are a British Overseas Territories citizen with a connection to Bermuda
  • You are a citizen of one of the 38 countries that are part of the Visa Waiver Program
  • You are a citizen of The Bahamas or a British Overseas Territories citizen with a connection to the British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands or Turks and Caicos Islands, under certain conditions
  • You are holding a Form I-512 ("Authorization for Parole of an Alien into the United States")

1. Categories of U.S. visas:

There are two main categories of US visas - Nonimmigrant Visa for temporary stay and Immigrant Visa for those wishing to immigrate to the United States. B-1 visas are issued to people coming to the United States for business purposes, while the B-2 visas are issued to people coming to the United States for the purpose of tourism. 

2. US visa exemption

  • General exemption

Citizens of Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Palau, and Bermuda can enter, reside, study, and work indefinitely in the United States. In the case of Canada, citizens can enter the United States under most circumstances, unless specified otherwise.  

  • Visa Waiver Program:


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The Visa Waiver Program (VWP) of the United States Government allows citizens of the following countries to enter the United States for up to 90 days without having to obtain a visa. US territories of Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands in the Caribbean are also a part of this program. Under this program, citizens of 38 countries are eligible to enter the United States without a visa for the purpose of tourism, business, or while in transit.

These countries are:

  • Canada (general exemption)
  • Singapore
  • United Kingdom

Other Countries included: Andorra,  Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brunei, Chile, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia,  Liechtenstein,  Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan. 

Since 2016, the Visa Waiver Program has been made inapplicable to the citizens of the above-mentioned countries who have previously traveled to Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, or Yemen on or after March 1, 2011, or those citizens who are dual citizens of Iran, Iraq, Sudan or Syria.

*Eligibility for the visa waiver may be withdrawn at any time by the U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security. 

**You must have an e-Passport to use the VWP

  • Other arrangements

Citizens of the following countries can enter into the United States without obtaining a visa, but only under certain conditions

Countries included: Bahamas, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Turks, and Caicos Islands 

  • Visa waiver programs of Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands

The US visa policies apply and are extended to the US territories of Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands. Additionally, these territories have an additional visa waiver program for the following countries:

Countries included: Australia, Brunei, China, Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia, Nauru, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Russia, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, United Kingdom.

  • American Samoa

American Samoa has its own entry requirements and maintains the control of its own borders. Therefore, a US visa cannot be used to enter American Samoa. The country issues an "OK board" for persons wishing to enter American Samoa. You must have a biometric passport and confirmed round-trip or onward ticket for “OK board”. A non-refundable fee of USD 20 is applicable. 

  • Alaska

Individuals planning to visit Alaska must be invited by a relative in Alaska who should notify the local authorities 10 days prior to travelers’ arrival in Alaska. Travelers must exit Alaska within 90 days.

3. Visa restricted:

Due to the lack of cooperation on removal matters, the Department of Homeland Security has restricted the issuance of a visa to the citizens of the following countries under certain categories:

Countries included: Cambodia, Eritrea, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Laos, Myanmar, Ghana

4. Visa or entry refused /prohibited:

Nationals of certain countries, as mentioned below, cannot be issued visas of certain categories to enter the United States as per a statement issued by a President of the United States. Citizens applying for B, C-1, C-3, D, or I visa are affected under this issued memorandum. 

Countries included: Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela, Yemen. 

* Visa suspension does not apply to the lawful permanent residents of the United States or holders of existing visas.

5. US Advanced Visa Required:

While the terms and conditions may vary, the citizens of the following countries are required to possess a valid US visa prior to their arrival in the United States. A few of these countries can even obtain an electronic visa (eTA or eVisa) while others may need to have a physical visa.

Countries included: Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belize, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Brazil, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, China, Colombia, Comoros, Congo, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Dominica, Dominican Republic, East Timor, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Fiji, Gabon, Gambia, Georgia, Ghana, Grenada, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Ivory Coast, Jamaica, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kiribati, Kosovo, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Macau, Macedonia, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Moldova, Mongolia, Montenegro, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nauru, Nepal, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, North Korea, Oman, Pakistan, Palestine, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Qatar, Romania, Russia, Rwanda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, São Tomé and Príncipe, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Serbia, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Solomon Islands, Somalia, South Africa, South Sudan, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Syria, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Thailand, Togo, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu, Vatican City, Venezuela, Vietnam, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

Steps for applying for a Business or Tourism Visitor Visa to the U.S.

  • Check if your country is a part of the U.S. Visa Waiver Program (VWP)
  • If not, determine which type of visa would you require
  • Apply for a visa with the following: Duly-filled DS-160, a photo, visa application fee (if applicable)
  • Schedule an interview at the nearest Embassy/Consulate
  • Prepare for your interview with the consul general

6. B Visa:

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A B-visa is one of the categories of non-immigrant visas issued by the government of the United States to foreign citizens seeking entry. This is also the most common type of US visa.  

7. Cost of B visa:

The cost of a B visa is made up of application fee and issuance fee. The issuance fee must only be paid once the visa is approved. But the nationals of the following countries must pay the issuance fee irrespective of visa approval/denial. Issuance fee can vary. 

Countries included: Angola, Australia, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Comoros, Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, French nationals in New Caledonia and Wallis and Futuna, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Libya, Malawi, Mauritania, Myanmar, Oman, Papua New Guinea, Russia, Turkmenistan, Yemen.

8. Extension of visa:

If you wish to stay in the United States longer than your visa expiry date, you can go to the local United States Citizenship and Immigration Services office to apply for an extension.  

9. Exit Visas:

Exit visas are not required for people departing the United States. 

10. A few other types of US visas:

  • A visa - for government ambassadors, ministers, diplomats traveling to the United States to engage in official activities
  • F visa - for foreign students enrolled at accredited US colleges/institutions/universities
  • NATO visa - for officials who work for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization
  • H visa - for individuals working professional-level jobs in the United States
  • P visa - for individuals or team athletes

There are many more types of non-immigrant US visas. You can visit the official website of the Department of Homeland Security for information regarding the same. 

*All visa rules may not apply if you’re entering the country via cruise ship

**Irrespective of the type of visa, every person entering the USA from abroad needs a valid passport

***Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers reserve rights to deny entry to any person at any time

****On September 24, 2017, the president of the United States has signed a presidential proclamation which makes many changes to the immigration policy. Please make sure you visit your nearest Embassy/Consulate for more information.

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Visa requirements for the united states
  • how to renew the US Visa of my parents, expired last July 2018

    Answer Report Abuse
    • The US Visa renewal process is pretty much the same as applying for the US Visa. Pay the US Visa renewal fees, submit the Form DS-160, send in your supporting documents to the US Embassy, schedule your visa interview and attend it. 

      Report Abuse
  • may I know if my mom still requires to go to embassy for a courtesy call if she will go back to US after 2 years after she stayed here which she has already the green card?

    Answer Report Abuse
    • To be on a safer side, it would be better to get in touch with the embassy. Contacting the concerned officials will help you get the right information. 

      Report Abuse
  • can i ask if what are the requirements for US Visa?

    Answer Report Abuse
    • You will find above all the information about the requirements for US Visa. If you want any specific information, you will have to visit the nearest embassy in your country. 

      Report Abuse
  • Please provide me what documents/requirements to send for US Visa renewal aside from my current passport and the old passport stamped with my US Visa and receipt of the application fee.

    Answer Report Abuse
    • You will have to submit 2 photographs, Form DS-160 confirmation page, and all other documents that you had submitted while filling the application the first time. For more information, visit the nearest embassy or consulate. 

      Report Abuse
  • My us vISA mARCH 24, 2019. hOW DO i GO ABOUT IT pLEASE,

    Answer Report Abuse
    • You will have to contact the nearest US embassy for detailed information. You can also check their official website for rules and regulations depending on your nationality and a type of your visa. 

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