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TRAVELING TO THE UNITED STATES

What Is the Visa Waiver Program (VWP)?

US policy permits citizens of certain countries as identified below to travel to the United States without a visa. The Visa Waiver Program (VWP) permits nationals from designated countries to apply for admission to the United States for 90 days or less as nonimmigrant visitors for business or pleasure without first obtaining a US nonimmigrant visa. The following countries are currently in the VWP program:  Andorra, Austria, Australia, 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, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Slovak Republic and South Korea. After May 15, 2003, citizens of Belgium must present a machine-readable passport in order to be granted admission under the VWP. This requirement also applies to citizens of Andorra, Brunei, Liechtenstein and Slovenia. For more information on the VWP, please visit http://www.cbp.gov/travel/international-visitors/visa-waiver-program

Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA)

Beginning January 12, 2009, all nationals and citizens of Visa Waiver Program (VWP) countries will be required by law to obtain a travel authorization prior to initiating travel to the United States under the VWP. This authorization may be obtained online through the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA™), a free Internet application administered by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) through a US government Web-site. For additional Information on ESTA, visit 
http://www.cbp.gov/travel/international-visitors/esta

VISITOR VISA (B-1 / B-2)

Generally, a citizen of a foreign country who wishes to enter the United States must first obtain a visa. The visa allows a foreign citizen, to travel to the United States port-of entry and request permission of the US immigration inspector to enter the US The "visitor" visa is a nonimmigrant visa for persons desiring to enter the United States temporarily for business (B-1), for pleasure or medical treatment (B-2), or combination of both (B-1/B-2) purposes.

Qualifying for a B-1 / B-2 Visa

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:

  • The purpose of their trip is to enter the US for business, pleasure, or medical treatment;
  • That they plan to remain for a specific, limited period;
  • Evidence of funds to cover expenses in the United States;
  • Evidence of compelling social and economic ties abroad; and
  • That they have a residence outside the US as well as other binding ties that will insure their return abroad at the end of the visit.

Applicants for visitor visas should generally apply at the American Embassy or Consulate with jurisdiction over their place of permanent residence.

Required Documentation

As part of the visa application process, an interview at the embassy consular section is required for visa applicants from age 14 through 79. Making your appointment for an interview is the first step in the visa application process. Some visa applications require further administrative processing, which takes additional time after the visa applicant’s interview by a Consular Officer. Each applicant for a visitor visa must submit these forms and documentation, and submit fees:

  • An application, Nonimmigrant Visa Application, Form DS-156 x person, completed and signed.
  • A Supplemental Nonimmigrant Visa Application, Form DS-157. Submission of this completed form is required for all male applicants between 16-45 years of age. It is also required for all applicants from state sponsors of terrorism age 16 and over, irrespective of gender, without exception. Four countries are now designated as state sponsors of terrorism, including Cuba, Syria, Sudan, and Iran.
  • A passport 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.
  • One (1) 2x2 photograph.


What are the Required Fees?

  •  Nonimmigrant visa application processing fee, Form DS-156 (non-refundable): $131.00.