About Visas - The Basics (2023)


Visa Types

What types of visas are available for people to come to the United States?

There are more than 20 nonimmigrant visa types for people traveling to the United States temporarily. There are many more types of immigrant visas for those coming to live permanently in the United States. The type of Visa you need is determined by the purpose of your intended travel. For an overview of visa types, please seeTypes of Visas for Temporary VisitorsorVisa Types for Immigrants.


After Visa Issuance

How do I read and understand my visa?

Please use the illustrated guide below to learn how to read your new nonimmigrant visa (for travel to the U.S. as a temporary visitor). In addition, as soon as you receive it, check to make sure information printed on the visa is correct (see below). If any of the information on your visa does not match the information in your passport or is incorrect, please contact the nonimmigrant visa section at the embassy or consulate that issued your visa.

About Visas - The Basics (1)

What is a Visa?
Nonimmigrant Visa Types (Classifications)
Immigrant Visa Types (Classifications)


My visa expires in 5 years, what does this mean?

A visa must be valid at the time a traveler seeks admission to the United States, but the expiration date of the visa (validity period/length of time the visa can be used) has no relation to the length of time a temporary visitor may be authorized by the Department of Homeland Security to remain in the United States. Persons holding visas valid for multiple entries may make repeated trips to the United States, for travel for the same purpose, as long as the visa has not expired, and the traveler has done nothing to become ineligible to enter the United States, at port-of-entry.


Visa Validity

My old passport has already expired. My visa to travel to the United States is still valid but in my expired passport. Do I need to apply for a new visa with my new passport?

No. If your visa is still valid you can travel to the United States with your two passports, as long as the visa is valid, not damaged, and is the appropriate type of visa required for your principal purpose of travel. (Example: tourist visa, when your principal purpose of travel is tourism). Both passports (the valid and the expired one with the visa) should be from the same country. When you arrive at the U.S. port-of-entry (POE, generally an airport or land border) the Customs and Border Protection Immigration Officer will check your visa in the old passport and if s/he decides to admit you into the United States they will stamp your new passport with an admission stamp along with the annotation "VIOPP" (visa in other passport). Do not try to remove the visa from your old passport and stick it into the new valid passport. If you do so, your visa will no longer be valid.


My visa will expire while I am in the United States. Is there a problem with that?

No. If the Department of Homeland Security, Customs and Border Protection Immigration Officer at the port-of-entry admitted you into the United States for a specific period of time, s/he will note your authorized period of stay on your admission stamp or paper Form I-94, called an Arrival/Departure Record. You will be able to remain in the United States during your authorized period of stay, even if your visa expires during the time you are in the United States. Since your admission stamp or paper Form I-94 documents your authorized stay and is the official record of your permission to be in the United States, it is very important to keep inside your passport.


What are indefinite validity visas (Burroughs visas) and are they still valid?

Indefinite validity visas (Burroughs Visas) are tourist/business visas manually stamped into a traveler’s passport which were valid for ten years. Effective April 1, 2004, all indefinite validity Burroughs visas became void. Therefore, if you have an indefinite validity visa you must apply for a new visa for travel to the U.S.


I changed my name. Is my U.S. visa with my old name still valid?

If your name has legally changed through marriage, divorce, or a court ordered name change, you will need to obtain a new passport. Once you have a new passport, the Department of State recommends that you apply for a new U.S. visa to make it easier for you to travel to and from the United States.

I changed my name. Is my U.S. visa with my old name still valid?


Administrative Processing

What is Administrative Processing?

Some refused visa applications may require further administrative processing. When administrative processing is required, the consular officer will inform the applicant at the end of the interview. The duration of the administrative processing will vary based on the individual circumstances of each case. Except in cases of emergency travel (i.e. serious illnesses, injuries, or deaths in your immediate family), before making inquiries about status of administrative processing, applicants should wait at least 180 days from the date of interview or submission of supplemental documents, whichever is later. Learn more.


Visa Refusals

My visa application has been refused. Why can't I get my money back?

The fee that you paid is an application fee. Everyone who applies for a U.S. visa anywhere in the world must pay this fee, which covers the cost of processing your application. This fee is non-refundable regardless of whether you are issued a visa or not, since your application was processed to conclusion. As one example, if your application was refused under Section 214(b) and you choose to reapply for a visa, whether applying at the same embassy or elsewhere, you will be required to pay the visa application processing fee. See theFees for Visa Servicespage for a list of fees.



I have a nonimmigrant visa that will expire soon and I would like to renew it. Do I need go through the whole visa application process again?

Yes, you will have to go through the whole visa application process each time you want to apply for a visa, even if your visa is still valid. There are some situations where a visa applicant may not need to be interviewed when renewing his/her visa. See the U.S. Embassy or Consulate website for more information.


Entering and Departing the United States

After I have my visa, I will be able to enter the U.S., correct?

A visa does not guarantee entry into the United States. A visa allows a foreign citizen to travel to the U.S. port-of-entry, and the Department of Homeland Security U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) immigration inspector authorizes or denies admission to the United States. SeeAdmissionson the CBP website.


How can I find out how long I am authorized to stay in the United States?

A visa does not guarantee entry into the United States, but allows a foreign citizen coming from abroad, to travel to the United States port-of entry (generally an airport or land border) and request permission to enter the United States. The Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials have authority to permit or deny admission to the United States, and determine how long a traveler may stay. At the port of entry, upon granting entry to the United States, the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. immigration inspector, provides you an admission stamp or paperForm I-94, Arrival/Departure Recordin your passport. On this admission stamp or paper form, the U.S. immigration inspector records either a date or "D/S" (duration of status). If your I-94 contains a specific date, then that is the date by which you must leave the United States. Your admission stamp or paper Form I-94 is very important to keep in your passport, since it shows your permission to be in the United States. Review information aboutAdmissionon the CBP Website. Also, seeDuration of Stay.


I did not turn in my paper Form I-94 when I left the United States, what should I do?

If you failed to turn in your paper Form I-94 Departure Record, seeDepartment of Homeland Security, Customs and Border Protectionwebsite for more information.


Lost, Stolen or Damaged Visas

My passport with my visa was stolen, what should I do?

If your passport with your admission stamp or paper Form I-94 are lost or stolen, you must get them replaced immediately. There are a number of steps you need to take, learn more, seeLost and Stolen Passports, Visas, and Form I-94s.


My visa was damaged. What should I do?

If your visa has been damaged in any way, you will need to reapply for a new visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad.


U.S. Citizens

I may have a claim to U.S. citizenship. Can I apply for a U.S. visa?

With few exceptions, a person born in the United States acquires U.S. citizenship at birth. A state-issued birth certificate serves as evidence of citizenship. Review theApply for a Passportwebpage to learn more.

Persons born in countries other than the United States may have a claim to U.S. citizenship if either parent is a U.S. citizen under U.S. law. Learn more on theBirth of U.S. Citizens Abroadwebpage.

If a person is a U.S. citizen, he or she is not eligible for a visa.Any prospective applicant believing he or she may have a claim to U.S. citizenship should have his or her citizenship claim adjudicated (officially determined) by a consular officer at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate before applying for a U.S. visa.


I have dual citizenship. Which passport should I use to travel to the United States?

All U.S. citizens, even dual citizens/nationals, must enter and depart the United States using his/her U.S. passport.

Further Questions


Can I get a visitor visa for birth tourism?

Birth tourism (travel for the primary purpose of giving birth in the United States to obtain U.S. citizenship for a child) is not a permissible basis for issuance of a visitor visa. For more information, please click here


How do I know whether to contact the Department of State or Department of Homeland Security about my issue?

Contact the Department of State,U.S. Embassy or Consulateabroad with questions about U.S. visas, including application, the status of visa processing, and for inquiries relating to visa denial.Once in the United States, the traveler falls under the authority (jurisdiction) of Department of Homeland Security. The Department of Homeland Security,U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)is responsible for the approval of all petitions, the authorization of permission to work in the United States, the issuance of extensions of stay, and change or adjustment of an applicant's status while the applicant is in the United States.


I would like to know if my friend has applied for a visa and what the status is. Who should I contact?

Your friend, the visa applicant. Under U.S. law, specifically the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) 222(f), visa records are confidential. Therefore, the visa applicant should inquire at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad where he/she applied regarding necessary information about visa application status. Because of confidentiality of visa records, you’ll need to ask your friend, the visa applicant your questions about whether a visa application was made, or a visa was issued or denied.


Visa Applicants from State Sponsors of Terrorism Countries

To find information regarding FAQ's from visa applicants from state sponsors of terrorism countries pleaseclick here.


Social Media Identifiers

On May 31, 2019, the Department of State updated its immigrant and nonimmigrant visa application forms to request additional information, including social media identifiers, from most U.S. visa applicants worldwide. Please see our Frequently Asked Questions.


About Visas - The Basics? ›

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.

What are the 4 types of visas? ›

The 4 Types of Travel Visa
Visa TypeDescription
Type #1:Tourist visa (pleasure travel visas)
Type #2:Immigration and naturalization visas (including by marriage)
Type #3:Student visas (for studying abroad)
Type #4:Business or work visas (for working, which include both non-immigrant and immigrant types)
May 24, 2023

What are the 5 types of visas? ›

Nonimmigrant Visa Categories
Purpose of TravelVisa CategoryRequired: Before applying for visa*
Tourism, vacation, pleasure visitorB-2(NA)
Training in a program not primarily for employmentH-3USCIS
Treaty trader/treaty investorE(NA)
Transiting the United StatesC(NA)
31 more rows

What is a visa and how does it work? ›

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.

What is visa requirements? ›

Requirements typically include filling out the visa application form, providing your passport for stamping if required, a photograph, and additional documents such as your flight itinerary, hotel booking or letter of invitation. Many countries also have inadmissibility guidelines when it comes to issuing visas.

Which US visa is easy to get? ›

A citizen of a foreign country who wishes to enter the United States must, in most cases, first obtain a visa to do so. This can be either a nonimmigrant visa for a temporary stay or an immigrant visa for permanent residence. For many, a "B" visitor visa is the easiest and most appropriate one to get.

How long can you stay in the US without a visa? ›

Overview. The Visa Waiver Program (VWP) enables most citizens or nationals of participating countries* to travel to the United States for tourism or business for stays of 90 days or less without obtaining a visa.

Which US visa is most powerful? ›

O-1 Visa: Individuals of Extraordinary Ability or Achievement.

What is the most common type of visa in the US? ›

US Visitor Visa (Business Visa USA and US Tourist Visa)

What is C and D visa? ›

A Visa C permits you to enter all Schengen countries and to stay in those countries for a total period of 90 days within 180 days provided that you fulfil the general entry conditions. A Visa D entitles you to enter and stay in Austria. It can be granted for a duration of 91 days up to 6 months.

How long do visas last? ›

This visa (The B1/B2 Visa) is valid for 10 years after issued, but it allows you to stay within 180 days Per Entry in the U.S. for each entry.

Which countries can travel to USA without visa? ›

There are currently 40 countries participating in the Visa Waiver Program:
  • Andorra (1991)
  • Australia (1996)
  • Austria (1991)
  • Belgium (1991)
  • Brunei (1993)
  • Chile (2014)
  • Croatia (2021)
  • Czech Republic (2008)

What countries do you need a visa to enter? ›

  • What Are The Countries That Require A Visa For U.S. Citizens?
  • Travel To Australia From The US.
  • Travel To Bolivia From The US.
  • Travel To China From The US.
  • Travel To Egypt From The US.
  • Travel To India From The US.
  • Travel To Indonesia From The US.
  • Travel To Iran From The US.
May 3, 2023

How much does a US visa cost? ›

The application fees are listed below and apply to one visa application. The application fee for the most common nonimmigrant visa types is US$160. This includes tourist, business, student, and exchange visas. Most petition-based visas, such as work and religious visas, are US$190.

How much is a visa? ›

These increases were published in the Federal Register on March 28, 2023 and will be effective on May 30, 2023. The fee for visitor visas for business or tourism (B1/B2s and BCCs), and other non-petition based NIVs such as student and exchange visitor visas, will increase from $160 to $185.

Where do Americans need visas? ›

Americans can travel to most European, Caribbean, and Central and South American countries without a visa, along with many other popular tourism destinations. Countries that U.S. passport holders need visas to enter include Russia, India, China, Vietnam, Turkey, and more, and others require e-visas to visit.

What is the fastest visa to get? ›

The US student visa (F-1 visa) is one of the fastest visas to process. In fact, the study permit is often processed directly before your embassy interview.

How long does a US visa take? ›

The entire visa application processing takes somewhere between two weeks and four months, depending on the type of visa. Please check what visa category you are going to need to have enough time left for the application process.

Which visa is fastest to work in USA? ›

Why TN Visas Can Help You Get a US Work Visa. If you are Canadian or Mexican, and you have a job offer in the US, you may be eligible for a TN Visa under the USMCA (NAFTA) agreement. This application process is the fastest way to get a US Work Visa.

How can I live in USA legally? ›

In order to become a legal immigrant to the United States, one must go through the appropriate visa application process and obtain approval from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

What happens if you overstay your US visa by one day? ›

If you overstay the end date of your authorized stay, as provided by the CBP officer at a port-of-entry, or United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), your visa will generally be automatically be voided or cancelled, as explained above.

What happens if you stay over 90 days in America? ›

The last time I traveled to the United States visa free, I stayed longer than 90 days; will I have a problem traveling? As you overstayed on your last visit to the United States you are not eligible to travel visa free; you are required to apply for a visa.

Which US visa leads to green card? ›

Green cards are issued after arrival in the United States. To qualify for a green card, the applicant must have an immigrant visa already, and applications are made to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Green card holders can pursue citizenship after three to five years.

How can I get a successful US visa? ›

Tips For A Successful Visa Interview
  2. ENGLISH. ...
  5. BE BRIEF. ...

How much bank balance is required for US tourist visa? ›

Although there isn't a predetermined minimum balance needed, an F-1 visa requires a minimum balance of 10,000 USD.

What does star mean on US visa? ›

The stars below the photo in the US visa are of no significance. Sometimes, you see one start, sometimes, there are two or more. There are crazy assumptions and theories saying it signifies there a risk of the individual. It is just a security feature of the visa and has no significance.

Which country receives the most US visas? ›

Who's Getting U.S. Immigrant Visas?
RankCountryImmigrant Visas Issued (2021)
#1🇲🇽 Mexico40,597
#2🇨🇳 China18,501
#3🇩🇴 Dominican Republic17,941
#4🇵🇭 Philippines15,862
7 more rows
Dec 13, 2022

How do I bring a worker to USA? ›

How do I hire an employee in another country?
  1. Apply for certification from the United States Department of Labor.
  2. Interview prospective foreign workers.
  3. Apply for a work visa from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
  4. Verify the tax laws applicable to your company and the foreign worker.

Why was I denied a US visa? ›

An applicant's current and/or past actions, such as drug or criminal activities, as examples, may make the applicant ineligible for a visa. If denied a visa, in most cases the applicant is notified of the section of law which applies.

Can I travel to Hawaii with US visa? ›

Under Visa Waiver Program (VWP), the system established by U.S. government, those approved for Travel Authorization through ESTA are permitted to travel to Hawaii without holding visa. Although visa is not required for general trip to Hawaii, be sure to apply for ESTA before travel.

What is a B1 B2 US visa? ›

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).

How long can you stay in America without a green card? ›

Absences of more than 365 consecutive days

You must apply for a re-entry permit (Form I-131) before you leave the United States, or your permanent residence status will be considered abandoned. A re-entry permit enables you to be abroad for up to two years. Apply for a re-entry permit.

Which US visa is valid for 10 years? ›

One of the most popular tourist visas is the B1/B2 visa, which remains valid for 10 years after issued.

Is US visa 5 years or 10 years? ›

How long is a US Tourist Visa valid for? The US Tourist Visa (B-1/B-2) is a non-immigrant US Visa. Its validity period ranges from 1 month to 10 years and allows single, double or multiples entries to the US. The period of stay which is a maximum of 6 months is recorded by the Customs and Border Protection officer.

What countries can a US passport not go to? ›

What countries do not accept U.S. passport? The only destination where it is forbidden for US citizens to travel to is North Korea, due to its closed border status for both US citizens and citizens of other countries.

Can I travel to USA without money? ›

Travelers visiting the United States from a foreign country must be able to prove to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer that they have sufficient funds, i.e., credit card, cash, travelers' checks, money order to cover travel, lodging, entertainment, meals, etc. to be admitted into the United States.

Can I stop in USA without visa? ›

ESTA is required in all cases of entering the U.S.

Travelers must apply for and receive ESTA even when transiting in the U.S. to a third country without a visa. You must apply for ESTA in any of the following cases: transit, transfer, or stopover (layover).

What is the strongest passport in the world? ›

Japan (193 countries) If you're looking for a country with great travel options, then you can't go wrong with Japan. The Japanese passport is ranked as the most powerful in the world, allow visa-free access to 193 countries.

Do I need a visa if I have a passport? ›

U.S. passport owners have the privilege of being able to visit various countries—among them Canada, Mexico, France, Italy, Belize, and Iceland—without needing a visa. However, a number of international destinations do require that travelers with U.S. passports purchase tourist visas before entering the country.

What is the purpose of a visa? ›

What is the purpose of a visa? A visa allows a nonimmigrant to travel to a U.S. port-of-entry (airport, for example) and present themselves to a U.S. Immigration Inspector.

What is the cheapest US visa? ›

US Nonimmigrant Visa Application Fees
Visa typeCost
Non-petition Based Visas$185
Petition Based Visas$205
E Visas$315
K Visas$265

How much is a 90 day visa for USA? ›

All About the K-1 Visa | Fiance Visa | 90 Day Visa

The Form I-129F that must be filled out and signed. It costs $535. The medical examination, which costs around $200, but the price may change depending on the medical service center.

Why is the US visa so expensive? ›

Why are US visas so costly? Unlike most questions that come up when applying for a visa, the answer to this one is actually quite easy to answer. It costs money to process the visas. Basically, the fee you pay is covering all the touchpoints you go through.

What is B1 B2 and B2 visa? ›

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).

What is F1 F2A F2B F3 F4? ›

F1 is adult unmarried children of US citizens, F2A is spouses and minor children (under 21 and unmarried) of lawful permanent residents or green card holders. F2B is adult unmarried children of permanent residents (21 and older), F3 is married children of US citizens, and F4 is siblings of US citizens.

What is a Type 3 visa? ›

The H-3 nonimmigrant visa category allows noncitizens coming temporarily to the United States as either a: Trainee to receive training in any field of endeavor, other than graduate medical education or training, that is not available in the noncitizen's home country.

How long can someone stay in the US with a B1 B2 visa? ›

While B-1 or B-2 visas may be valid up to 10 years, visitors on B-1 or B-2 will only be permitted to stay in the United States for a short duration (maximum 6 months), as granted by US Customs and Border Protection upon arrival.

What is h1 visa in USA? ›

The H-1B program allows companies and other employers in the United States to temporarily employ foreign workers in occupations that require the theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge and a bachelor's degree or higher in the specific specialty, or its equivalent.

How long you can stay in US with B1 visa? ›

Up to 6 months; maximum total amount of time permitted in B-1 status on any one trip is generally 1 year.

What is the strongest US visa? ›

O-1 Visa: Individuals of Extraordinary Ability or Achievement.

What is the most easiest visa to get? ›

10 Easiest Countries to Obtain a Schengen Visa in 2023
  • Finland – 4.7 per cent out of 61,015 applications.
  • Hungary – 4.8 per cent out of 70,269 applications.
  • Estonia – 5.4 per cent out of 40,657 applications.
  • Poland – 5.6 per cent out of 41,891 applications.
  • Greece – 6.3 per cent out of 295,634 applications.

What is the best visa to stay in US? ›

What are the top 5 US Visas?
  • H-1B Visa.
  • Student Visa.
  • Tourist Visa.

Who can sponsor me in USA? ›

Categories of people eligible for family immigrant visas
  • Other relatives of a U.S. citizen, such as married children, siblings, or cousins.
  • The spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 of legal permanent residents (Green Card holders)

What is F2 visa USA? ›

F2 Visa: Dependents of F1 Visa Holders

If you hold F1 Student Visa, you can apply for a F2 Dependent Visa to bring your family in the U.S. with you.

What is IR1 visa? ›

The IR1/CR1 Visa is a Family Based Green Card in the immediate relative category. Known as the Spouse Green Card, the IR1/CR1 Visa enables the spouse of a U.S. citizen to join their partner in the United States as a lawful permanent resident.

Which is faster k1 or k3 visa? ›

One of the best reasons to pursue a K-1 visa is that the process tends to move more quickly than a K-3 or CR-1 visa. Typically, the fiancé visa process takes approximately six months, and obtaining permanent resident status after the fact takes around 10 to 11 months.

What is a Type K visa? ›

The fiancé(e) K-1 nonimmigrant visa is for the foreign-citizen fiancé(e) of a United States (U.S.) citizen. The K-1 visa permits the foreign-citizen fiancé(e) to travel to the United States and marry his or her U.S. citizen sponsor within 90 days of arrival.

What is a Type V visa? ›

The V visa is a temporary visa available to spouses and minor children (unmarried, under 21) of U.S. lawful permanent residents (LPR, also known as green card holders). It allows permanent residents to achieve family unity with their spouses and children while the immigration process takes its course.


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