In general, a citizen of a foreign country who seeks to enter the United States must first obtain a U.S. visa, which is placed into the traveler's passport. Certain international travelers may be eligible to enter the United States without a visa if they meet the requirements for the U.S. Visa Waiver Program (VWP). The VWP allows travelers, with a valid electronic passport, to enter the United States without a visa for up to 90 days for business or pleasure. For all VWP qualifications please visit https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/us-visas/tourism-visit/visa-waiver-program.html. Anyone traveling to the United States for any reason other than business or pleasure requires a visa
Do I need a visa to travel to the United States?
Travelers that qualify for the United States Visa Waiver Program must obtain authorization to enter the United States using the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) at https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov/esta. Travelers whose ESTA applications are rejected and still wish to travel to the United States, will need to complete a Nonimmigrant Visa Application on this website.
Some travelers who are citizens of a Visa Waiver Program partner country may still be unable to travel to the United States under this program. If you have traveled to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Sudan, Syria, Somalia, or Yemen after March 2011, you are not eligible to travel under the Visa Waiver Program. Similarly, if you are a dual national of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Iran, Iraq, Sudan, or Syria, you are also not eligible to travel under the Visa Waiver Program. These travelers should apply for a nonimmigrant visa well in advance of the desired travel date to avoid any unnecessary delays.
Travelers with imminent travel may request an expedited visa appointment. To request an expedited visa appointment, first schedule a regular visa appointment on the closest available date. Then sign-in to your account, click ‘Continue’, select ‘Request Expedite’ and follow the instructions. The traveler should include in the request the date and purpose of the travel as well as a copy of any U.S. Customs and Border Protection message he/she received regarding their ESTA status and, if applicable, why the ESTA application was denied.
More information about restrictions to travel under the Visa Waiver Program, including the requirement for an electronic passport, is available at https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/us-visas/tourism-visit/visa-waiver-program.html.
Steps required to apply for a US visa
If required to apply for a visa to travel to the United States the process includes the following steps:
- Determine the type of visa required to travel to the United States. Information about visa types can be found at https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/us-visas/visa-information-resources/all-visa-categories.html.
- Complete the online visa application form, DS-160. The DS-160 is a U.S. Government on-line form and can only be completed at https://ceac.state.gov/CEAC. Each applicant must complete this form before using any services on this website.
- Return to this website and complete the following application steps to schedule a Consular Section appointment:
- Create a user account.
- Add applicant information to complete the registration.
- Enter the DS-160 confirmation number for each applicant applying for a visa.
- Provide an address or select a location where you want to receive your documents from the Consular Section.
- Pay the nonimmigrant visa (MRV) application fee(s) using one of the payment methods available in the country where you reside. See Visa Fees for available payment options.
- Schedule a Consular Section appointment
Note: Applicants of a certain age group or those who are renewing a previous U.S. visa may be eligible to apply for a visa without attending a Consular interview. Eligibility for an interview waiver will be determined as the applicant goes through the process of scheduling an appointment through this site. The determination will be made based on the answers provided to the qualifying criteria.
Discovering An Error On Your Visa
The information printed on an issued U.S. visa should match the information in the applicant’s passport. If you discover an error (misspelling, error in the date of birth, error in the expiration date, etc.) on your U.S. visa, the applicant or a designated proxy can send an e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org
If an applicant has been denied a visa, the consular officer will give the applicant a letter explaining why the visa was refused.
If the refusal letter is marked 214(b), it will generally explain that the applicant does not qualify for a visa at this time under U.S. immigration laws. If the applicant chooses to reapply, the applicant needs to submit a new application, pay a new visa fee, schedule a new interview, and provide information on how the circumstances have changed since the initial visa application.
If the refusal letter is marked 221(g), it will generally include additional actions that the applicant needs to take to continue with his/her visa application. The letter will also have instructions on how to complete the additional required steps. The applicant will not have to pay the visa application fee again.
Occasionally applications will require additional administrative processing, which may delay the adjudication of a visa. In the event that administrative processing is required, the letter will also be marked 221(g) and provide additional instructions.
For further information about visa denials, please visit the Department of State's Consular Affairs website.