Visas To Enter The United States

Visas To Enter The United States
Anyone wishing to enter the United States for business or pleasure must have a visa. Each year more than six million visas are issued to temporary visitors along with around 450,000 immigrant visas. There are several kinds of US visas that serve specific purposes for entry into the country. Unless you are a citizen of one of the 36 countries involved in the US Visa Waiver Program you will need to arrange a visa. The list of 36 countries can be seen here:

There are around 185 different kinds of US visas, but they all essentially fall under two categories: non-immigrant and immigrant visas. Non-immigrants visas are given to visitors who want to come to the US temporarily for tourism, business, employment or study, while immigrant visas are designed for people who wish to move permanently to the United States.

The most common type of non-immigrant visa is the B1 and B2 visa. This multi-purpose visa is given for “temporary visitors for business or pleasure”. It is not particularly hard to get this kind of visa if you can prove the intent of your visit and provide sufficient proof of funds to support yourself during your stay. This includes bank statements, purchased return air tickets and occasionally even a letter of support from an American citizen living in the country.

The length of validity of a B1/B2 visa can be between one and 10 years, depending on the decision of the US consulate officer. The visitor can only stay in the US from three to six months at a time before being forced to depart the country at the end of that entry stamp. The exact length of stay is determined by the immigration officer upon arrival, but it is typically 90 days.

The J1 visa is also commonly used for people who have a specific purpose in visiting the US beyond simply tourism. Known as an Exchange Visitor Program, the J1 caters to those who need to stay longer than the B1/B2 period such as students, au pairs, scholars and the like. For J1 visas a sponsorship is needed from a US citizen or organisation.

Similar to this is the H1-B visa, which is for professionals who plan to come to America for work. The person must prove they are specially trained in the field of employment where they will work in the US, usually covered by a bachelor’s degree or higher in that field of study.

If you have family already living in the US, it is possible to apply for the K series of visas. K visas are mainly used by people who plan to immigrate to the US permanently but they are classified as non-immigrant visas until the application process can be finalised within the US. The K1 visa, for example, is for the fianc? of an American citizen who plans to marry in the US. They are given 90 days to get married and move on with the immigration process to become fulltime citizens.