How to Enter the U.S. is the most common types of visas for business, student or travel you may need when coming to or traveling through the United States, plus review what other documents you need to enter the U.S. Also, find information on how to apply for an immigrant visa. Go through this page to apply For a Visa, Procedures for Entering the United States, Apply for an Immigrant Visa and Refugees and Asylum
How to Enter the U.S
- Apply For a Visa
The U.S. Department of State issues visas tool tip to foreign nationals tool tip traveling to the United States through its embassies or consulates tool tip . However, you do not need a visa for your business meeting or for vacation if you are a citizen of any of the 39 countries participating in the Visa Waiver Program.
Your reason for travel will determine the type of visa you need to enter the U.S. Some of the most commonly requested visas are:
- Immigrant visa for permanent residency tool tip
- Visitor visas for tourism or business
- Fiancé(e) visa to marry your U.S. citizen fiancé(e), and live, in the U.S.
- Visas for students
- Business or professional visas for citizens of Canada and Mexico
- Transit visa for traveling through the U.S. on your way to visit another country
Procedures for Entering the United States
When you arrive in the United States, you must show valid travel documents as part of the entry process. The documents you need and whether your passport needs to be valid for six months after your travel dates depend on the country you are arriving from and your citizenship or status.
- Most people who come to the U.S. using an immigrant visa receive one of the following types:
- Family-based visa, for those with a family member who is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident
- Employment-based visa, which generally requires a job offer from a U.S. employer
Essential Steps To Get An Immigrant Visa
In most cases, someone must sponsor you or file an immigrant petition for you.
Wait until the petition is approved and a visa is available in your category. Then apply for an immigrant visa. Do this through a U.S. consulate abroad. Find one in your country in this directory of U.S. consulates.
- Get a medical examination.
- Go to an interview.
- Wait for a decision on your application.
- Review the details of this process for getting a family- or employment-based visa.
Another way to seek an immigrant visa is through the Diversity Visa Lottery program. This program lets people from countries with low U.S. immigration rates participate in an annual drawing for an immigrant visa.
After You Get Your Immigrant Visa
Once you get your immigrant visa, you will have to pay a USCIS immigrant fee. You will get a sealed packet of documents to give officials at the U.S. port of entry. You will be admitted to the U.S. as a permanent resident and receive your Green Card in the mail.
Do Not Apply For An Immigrant Visa If You Are In U.S
If you’re already in the U.S., apply for a Green Card through an adjustment of status. You will not have to return to your home country. You will still have to go through steps like those required for an immigrant visa application:
- Someone must sponsor you or file an immigrant petition for you.
- Wait until the petition is approved and there is a visa available in your category. Then apply for a Green Card from within the U.S.
- You will still need to get a medical examination, go to an interview, and wait for a decision on your application.