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United States of America: Do I need a visa?

Citizens of 36 countries who also meet the requirements for the Electronic System for Travel Authorization are eligible to travel to the USA without a visa under the Visa Waiver Program. The VWP allows visitors to travel to the United States for leisure and business-related activities of up to 90 days without obtaining a visa. Your passport must be valid for at least six months after your planned departure date from the United States.

Visitors from some countries will be required to have passports containing biometric chips to be eligible for the VWP. Citizens and permanent residents of Canada and Bermuda are generally eligible to travel to the USA for up to 180 days without a visa. Citizens of Mexico must have either a visa or a Border Crossing Card to enter the United States.

If you a non-American citizen or permanent resident and you are not eligible for the Visa Waiver Program and you are not an eligible citizen of Canada, Mexico or Bermuda, you must obtain a visa to enter the United States for visits of any length. If you do not intend to emigrate permanently to the US, you must complete the Form D S-160 Non-immigrant Visa application before arriving in the United States. You may complete the application online. In nearly all cases, after completing the application, you must print out a copy of the barcode page, pay the appropriate fee and schedule an interview with your embassy or consulate to complete the application process.

    Required Documents:
  • Passport (valid for at least six months after planned departure date)
  • Travel Itinerary (if available)
  • Dates of last five visits to the United States (or travel history for the past five years)
  • Resume or CV (to answer questions relating to your education and work history)
  • Digital photo meeting (you may also need to bring a printed photo to your interview)

In addition, visitors from most countries will be required to be fingerprinted and photographed upon entering the United States, even under the VWP. Most Canadian citizens presenting Canadian passports and citizens of Mexico presenting a Border Crossing Card who are traveling entirely within the border zone between Mexico and the United States are exempt from this requirement. Visitors from other countries who are under the age of 14 or over the age of 79 are also exempt from the fingerprint and photograph requirement.


 [09-04-2012]
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