Generally, a citizen of a foreign country who wishes to enter the United States must first obtain a visa, either a nonimmigrant visa for a temporary stay, or an immigrant visa for permanent residence. Visitor visas are nonimmigrant visas for persons who want to enter the United States temporarily for business (visa category B-1), for tourism (visa category B-2), or for a combination of both purposes (B-1/B-2).
Here are some examples of activities permitted with a visitor visa:
These are some examples of activities that require different categories of visas and cannot be done while on a visitor visa:
Visitor visas will also not be issued for birth tourism (travel for the primary purpose of giving birth in the United States to obtain U.S. citizenship for their child).
There are several steps to apply for a visa. The order of these steps and how you complete them may vary by U.S. Embassy or Consulate. Please consult the instructions on the U.S. Embassy or Consulate website.
Interviews are generally required for visa applicants with certain limited exceptions below. Consular officers may require an interview of any visa applicant.
|If you are age:||Then an interview is:|
|13 and younger||Generally not required|
|14-79||Required (some exceptions for renewals)|
|80 and older||Generally not required|
You should schedule an appointment for your visa interview at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in the country where you live. You may schedule your interview at another U.S. Embassy or Consulate, but be aware that it may be more difficult to qualify for a visa outside of the country where you live.
Wait times for interview appointments vary by location, season, and visa category, so you should apply for your visa early. Review the interview wait time for the location where you will apply:
Check the estimated wait time for a nonimmigrant visa interview appointment at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate.
Note: Please check the individual Embassy or Consulate website to determine if your case is eligible for a waiver of the in-person interview.
Applicants scheduling visa appointments in a location different from their place of residence should check post websites for nonresident wait times.
|Nonimmigrant Visa Type||Appointment Wait Time|
|Interview Required Visitors (B1/B2)||-- days|
|Interview Required Students/Exchange Visitors (F, M, J)||-- days|
|Interview Required Petition-Based Temporary Workers (H, L, O, P, Q)||-- days|
|Interview Waiver Visitors (B1/B2)||-- days|
|Interview Waiver Students/Exchange Visitors (F, M, J)||-- days|
|Interview Waiver Petition-Based Temporary Workers (H, L, O, P, Q)||-- days|
Gather and prepare the following required documents before your visa interview:
Review the instructions for how to apply for a visa on the website of the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you will apply. Additional documents may be requested to establish if you are qualified. For example, additional requested documents may include evidence of:
Evidence of your employment and/or your family ties may be sufficient to show the purpose of your trip and your intent to return to your home country. If you cannot cover all the costs for your trip, you may show evidence that another person will cover some or all costs for your trip.
Note: Visa applicants must qualify on the basis of the applicant's residence and ties abroad, rather than assurances from U.S. family and friends. A letter of invitation or Affidavit of Support is not needed to apply for a visitor visa. If you choose to bring a letter of invitation or Affidavit of Support to your interview, please remember it is not one of the factors used in determining whether to issue or deny the visa.
A consular officer will interview you to determine whether you are qualified to receive a visitor visa. You must establish that you meet the requirements under U.S. law to receive a visa.
Ink-free, digital fingerprint scans are taken as part of the application process. They are usually taken during your interview, but this varies based on location.
After your visa interview, the consular officer may determine that your application requires further administrative processing. The consular officer will inform you if this required.
After the visa is approved, you may need to pay a visa issuance fee (if applicable to your nationality), and make arrangements for the return of the passport and visa to you. Review the visa processing times to learn more.
A visa allows a foreign citizen to travel to a U.S. port-of-entry (generally an airport) and request permission to enter the United States. A visa does not guarantee entry into the United States. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS), U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials at the port-of-entry have authority to permit or deny admission to the United States. If you are allowed to enter the United States, the CBP official will provide an admission stamp or a paper Form I-94, Arrival/Departure Record. Learn more about admissions and entry requirements, restrictions about bringing food, agricultural products, and other restricted/prohibited goods, and more by reviewing the CBP website.
See Extend Your Stay on the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website to learn about requesting to extend your stay beyond the date indicated on your admission stamp or paper Form I-94.
Failure to depart the United States on time will result in being out of status. Under U.S. law, visas of individuals who are out of status are automatically voided (Section 222(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act). Any multiple entry visa that was voided due to being out of status will not be valid for future entries into the United States.
If your plans change while in the United States (for example, you marry a U.S. citizen or receive an offer of employment), you may be able to request a change in your nonimmigrant status to another category through U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). See Change My Nonimmigrant Status on the USCIS website to learn more.
While you are in the United States, receiving a change of status from USCIS does not require you to apply for a new visa. However, once you depart the United States you must apply for a new visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate in the appropriate category for your travel.
You may apply for a B-1 visitor visa to work in the United States as a personal or domestic employee for your employer in limited situations. You may work in the United States on a visitor visa if your employer is:
Learn more about your rights in the United States and protection available to you by reading the Legal Rights and Protections pamphlet.
Whether you are applying for the first time or renewing your visa, you will use the same application process (please review How to Apply, above). Some applicants seeking to renew their visas in certain visa classes may be eligible for the Interview Waiver (IW) which allows qualified individuals to apply for visa renewals without being interviewed in person by a U.S. consular officer. Review the instructions on the website of the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you will apply to determine if the IW is available and if you qualify.
Yes, you will still need a visa to travel to the United States, unless you qualify for the Visa Waiver Program. Having an Asian-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Business Travelers Card (ABTC) does not change visa requirements, your visa status, or the visa process for travel to the United States.
If you have an Asian-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Business Travelers Card (ABTC), you might be able to schedule an expedited visa interview appointment. Review the instructions for scheduling expedited appointments on the website of the embassy or consulate where you will apply.
Certain foreign maritime workers are eligible to apply for a Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) once in the U.S. If you, as a maritime industry worker, will perform services in secure port areas, your visa must be annotated “TWIC Letter Received.” Workers whose visas are not annotated will not be permitted by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to apply for a TWIC.
In order for your visa to be annotated, you must obtain a letter from your employer explaining the need for a TWIC and that you are a potential TWIC applicant. See a template example of this letter. You must present this letter when you apply for the B-1 visa. You must meet all other eligibility requirements for a B-1 visa.
Complete information about the TWIC program is available on TSA’s website at https://www.tsa.gov/for-industry/twic.
Yes, if you feel circumstances have changed regarding your application. Review Visa Denials to learn more.
Citizens of Canada and Bermuda do not require visas to enter the United States, for visit, tourism and temporary business travel purposes. For more information see U.S. Embassy Ottawa website, U.S. Consulate Hamilton website and CBP website.
Additional resources for Canadian visitors to the United States can be found on the U.S. Embassy and Consulate websites in Canada.
In accordance with the agreement signed between the United States and China to extend visa validity, beginning on November 29, 2016, Chinese citizens with 10-year B1, B2 or B1/B2 visas in Peoples’ Republic of China passports will be required to update their biographical and other information from their visa application via a website every two years, or upon getting a new passport or B1, B2, or B1/B2 visa, whichever occurs first. This mechanism is called EVUS - Electronic Visa Update System.
The EVUS website is now open to the public for enrollments at www.EVUS.gov. CBP will not collect a fee for EVUS enrollment at this time. CBP anticipates the eventual implementation of an EVUS enrollment fee, but does not have a time frame. Until the implementation of a fee, travelers can enroll in EVUS without charge. The Department of Homeland Security, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will keep visa holders informed of new information throughout the year. For further information, please visit www.cbp.gov/EVUS.
根据美中双方签署的延长签证有效期的协议，自2016年11月29日起，凡持有10 年 期B1，B2 或 B1/B2签证的中华人民共和国护照持有人需要每两年或在获取新护照或最长有效期的B1、B2或B1/B2签证时时（以先到者为准），通过网站更新他们签证申请上的个人资料及其它信息。这个机制我们称之为EVUS –签证更新电子系统。
Citizens and permanent residents of Mexico generally must have a nonimmigrant visa or Border Crossing Card (also known as a "Laser Visa"). For ease of travel, the B-1/B-2 and the Border Crossing Card have been combined into one document (DSP-150). Select Border Crossing Card to learn more about this card.
Please visit U.S. Embassy or Consulate websites for more information regarding applying for a visa at the U.S. Embassy or Consulates in Mexico.