Passport, Visa & Permits to New York City



You must have a valid passport to travel abroad. A passport is an official government document that certifies one's identity and citizenship. When entering the USA, your passport may be turned down if it expires within six months of entry.

Different countries have different procedures for obtaining a passport, so contact your local government to find out more about the steps you need to get your passport. In most cases, the procedure and cost associated with getting a passport can be high, so start the process at least six months before you plan to leave.

Visas for the USA

A visa is a certificate placed on your passport or travel document to indicate that you are authorised to land in the country.  

Who needs a visa?

People from many countries need a valid US entry visa before arriving in the States, whether by air, sea or land. However, you can still be subject to immigration control at the point of entry to the USA even if you have a visa.

  • No visa required:

For travel that lasts less than three months, no more than a passport is required for citizens enrolled under the Visa Waiver Pilot Program: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brunei, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.

Notice that those entering under the Visa Waiver Pilot Program cannot work or study while in the United States, must have a round-trip ticket, and cannot stay longer than 90 days or change their status to another category.

  • Visa required:

A visa is a permission to enter the United States if a visitor wishes to stay longer than 90 days or if the visitor's citizenship does not belong to one of the countries listed above. Only a certain number of visas are granted each year and their number depend on the agreements between the passport holder country and the US.

Foreign citizens must apply for a visa at the American embassy or consulate in their country of origin.

B-1 or B-2 Visa for USA

The "visitor" visa is a non-immigrant visa for persons desiring to enter the United States temporarily for business (B-1) or for pleasure or medical treatment (B-2). To be eligible one must submit:

  • Non-immigrant Visa Application (Form DS-156)
  • Supplemental Non-immigrant Visa Application (Form DS-157) provides additional information about your travel plans. Submission of this completed form is required for all male applicants between 16-45 years of age.
  • One photo. 2x2 size.
  • Valid passport or travel document
  • Application fees. All applicants must pay the $160 application fee.
  • Evidence of funds to cover expenses in the United States
  • Evidence of compelling social and economic ties abroad

F-1 student visa for USA

To obtain a student visa, the first step is to apply to a SEVP-approved school in the United States. After the SEVP-approved school accepts your enrolment, you will be registered for the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) and must pay the SEVIS I-901 fee.

Once accepted, you will need to complete an I-20 application which states that you have financial means to support yourself and are accepted into an educational program.

When you enter the United States on an F-1 student visa, you will usually be admitted for the duration of your student status.

Work Visas for the USA

H1B Visa

This type of Employment Visa may be issued to individuals who seek temporary entry in a specialty occupation as a professional. Some examples of "specialty occupations" include accountant, computer analyst, engineer, financial analyst, scientist, architect or lawyer.

Each of the H1B visas requires the prospective employer to first file a petition with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). To obtain the visa, you will also be required with a higher education degree or its equivalent.  

H-2B Visa  

Allows guest workers to come to the United States from around the world to live and work. An international beneficiary who is offered a job by a U.S. employer may enter the U.S. for a temporary time of specified duration to fill the offered position (non- agricultural work). The employment must be a one-time need based upon low U.S. worker availability, seasonal, or cyclical needs.

H-3 Visa

For an alien coming to the United States to receive training from an employer in any field other than graduate medical education or training, academic studies that are not available in the trainee's home country or practical training programs in the education of children with mental, physical, or emotional disabilities.

J-1 Visa

If the individual does not qualify for an H visa classification, he or she may qualify under the J-1 category. The J-1 visa can be used by any U.S. companies to accept students to participate in any exchange visitor programs in the US.

The primary purpose of the J-1 visa is to improve knowledge of American techniques and operation in any U.S. industry and take this experience back to their home country to utilize upon returning home.

Exchange visitor visa categories include:

  • Au pair and EduCare
  • Camp Counsellor
  • Government Visitor
  • Intern
  • International Visitor (Dept. of State use)
  • Physician
  • Professor and Research Scholar
  • Short-term Scholar
  • Specialist
  • Student, college/ university
  • Student, secondary
  • Summer Work Travel
  • Teacher
  • Trainee

I Visa

This visa is for Members of the Foreign Media, Press, and Radio. Media visas are for representatives of the foreign media, including members of the press, radio, film, and print industries, traveling temporarily to the United States to work in their profession engaged in informational or educational media activities, essential to the foreign media function. Activities in the United States while on a media visa must be for a media organization having its home office in a foreign country.

To find out more about the complete directory of Visa categories, visit the Bureau of Consular Affairs.

Work Permit for the USA
There are different types of visas that allow you to work temporally or for an indefinite period.

You cannot apply for a working visa as a foreigner until you have an employer willing to offer you a job in the USA. Unfortunately, finding a job when you don't have any right to work in the USA is a huge challenge since few companies are ready to recruit foreigners because the process takes a very long time (at least 6 months) and it is costly.

When looking at job offers, search for "Visa Sponsor" to find companies that are interested in aiding the Visa process. Some companies offer this service to help match companies that will aid in the visa sponsorship with visa-seekers. These usually involve an additional fee.

If your company is taking care of the visa process, it is still up to you to provide the necessary documents. The application process will be completed by the company's lawyer and relocation team.

Once submitted, the file must be validated by the US Labour Minister, then it will go through the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) process. This step takes at least 2 months, and the INS will indicate whether the demand has been approved by sending the appropriate forms. These documents will have to be completed and showed at the US consulate to accept your visa application.

The easiest way to find a high paying job as a foreign national is to attend university in the United States. This can act as a steppingstone to a great job in your field and your degree will be easily recognized. 

Find a work visa and its requirements at the Bureau of Consular Affairs Temporary Worker Visa Categories.

Permanent Residence in the USA

To stay permanently in the US, you must obtain a Green Card as evidence that you are of lawful permanent resident status in the United States.

Lawful Permanent Residents generally do not have the right to vote, the right to be elected in federal and state elections, the ability to bring family members to the United States (however permanent residents are allowed to sponsor certain family members), or eligibility for certain federal government jobs. Male permanent residents between the ages of 18 and 26 are subject to registering in the Selective Service System.

Permanent residents pay taxes on their worldwide income, like U.S. citizens. Certain conditions that may put a permanent resident in deportation proceedings do not apply to U.S. citizens.

An alien with a green card application can obtain two important permits while the case is pending. The first is a temporary work permit known as the Employment Authorization Document (EAD), which allows the alien to take employment in the United States. The second is a temporary travel document, which allows him/her to re-enter the United States.

Both permits confer benefits that are independent of any existing status granted to the alien. For example, the alien might already have permission to work in the United States under an H1-B visa.

Green Card Lottery in USA

Another way to gain a green card is through the system called the Green Card Lottery. Each year, around 50,000 immigrant visas are made available through the Diversity Visa (DV) program. These are available to people who were born in countries with low rates of immigration to the United States (fewer than 50,000 immigrants in the past five years). Applicants can only qualify by country of birth, not by citizenship. Anyone who is selected under this lottery will be given the opportunity to apply for permanent residence. They can also file for their spouse and any unmarried children under the age of 21. As the name indicates, this is an unlikely method of gaining a Green card and more traditional methods offer better results.

The official government website for immigration can be found here. The site offers full information on immigrating, forms for visas, passports, etc., practice citizenship tests, and many other resources.

Gaining Citizenship for the USA

In the US, citizenship may be obtained in different ways. Citizenship can be established through birth, descent, marriage, or naturalisation.

A lawful Permanent Resident can apply for United States citizenship, or naturalization, after five years of residency. This period is shortened to three years if married to a U.S. citizen, or four years if permanent residency was received through political asylum.
Lawful Permanent Residents may submit their applications for naturalization as much as 90 days before meeting the residency requirement. Citizens are entitled to more rights and obligations than permanent residents.

Who can become an US citizen?

  • Citizenship through birth or descent: Generally, if you are born in the United States, or born to US citizens, you are considered a US citizen
  • Becoming a citizen through naturalisation: In order to apply for naturalisation, you must have had a Permanent Resident (Green) Card for at least five years, or for a minimum of three years if you're filing as the spouse of a U.S. citizen (see below).
    • If you apply for naturalization less than six months before your Permanent Resident Card expires, or do not apply for naturalization until your card has already expired, you must renew your card.
    • You can apply for naturalization before you receive your new Green Card, but you'll need to submit a photocopy of the receipt of your Form I-90, Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card, when you receive it.
  • Becoming an US citizen through marriage or civil partnership: If you are a foreign national who is the spouse or civil partner of an US citizen, you may be able to become an US citizen if you meet certain conditions and apply for citizenship through naturalisation.
    • Have been a permanent resident (Green Card holder) for at least 3 years
    • Have been living in marital union with the same U.S. citizen spouse during such time
    • Reside continuously within the United States from the date of application for naturalization until the time of naturalization
    • Be physically present in the United States for at least 18 months out of the 3 years immediately preceding the date of filing the application

Dual Citizenship or Nationality

Dual nationality means a person may be a citizen of the United States and of another country at the same time. If you have dual citizenship and plan to travel to or from the United States, you must use a U.S. passport to enter and leave the United States.
For information on dual nationality from the point of view of another country, please contact that country's embassy or consulate. Information about giving up or losing your U.S. citizenship is also available.

Update 13/02/2020


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Green Card

The United States of America makes available 55,000 permanent resident visas (Green Cards) through the Green Card Lottery Program each year. Applicants are selected in a random, computer-generated drawing.. Now, you can submit your Green Card Lottery Application directly online.

More informations on the Immigration department of the USA.

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