Visa Regulations in the United States
If a traveler meets requirements for visa-free travel, they may be eligible to travel to the US without Visa. Those travelers, who do not qualify for visa-free travel, must obtain a Visa to enter the United States.
Having a visa does not guarantee the entry to the United States, but it does indicate the fact a consular officer at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad has determined that a traveler is eligible to seek entry for a specific purpose.
There are to main types of U.S. visas: Nonimmigrant visas and Immigrant visas .
Nonimmigrant visa type consists of 20 different kinds of visas for people traveling to the United States temporarily.
The government of the United States offers a Visa Waiver Program (VWP). It enables most citizens of affected countries to enter the United States for touristic or business reasons for 90 days or less without a need for a visa. Travelers participating in the program must have a valid Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) approval before travel.
Countries participating in VWP are: Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brunei, Chile, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, United Kingdom.
If a traveler’s home country does not participate in VWP, then they need to obtain a Nonimmigrant visa.
To apply for a Nonimmigrant visa, one must determine the visa type needed and pay the visa fee. After paying the fee, a traveler should complete DS-160 form, upload a photo, which will be followed by scheduling an appointment and visiting the U.S. Embassy. There are some exceptions about interviews: children 13 and younger generally are not required to have an interview, and neither are 80 and older seniors. The interview should be scheduled in the country of residence. Appointment wait times vary depending on a U.S. Embassy or a consulate. Before the interview, an applicant should gather several documents – a valid passport, DS-160 confirmation page, Application fee payment receipt, and one printed photo (the one uploaded in the system). A consular officer at the interview will determine whether or not you are qualified for a visitor visa. Digital fingerprint scans are also part of an interview. If some circumstances are requiring you to stay longer than expected, you can extend your stay at: