How To Apply for a U.S. Visa

Most citizens from Canada and certain citizens from countries that participate in the Visa Waiver Programs can enter the United States without a visa, provided they meet certain criteria.  However, in most cases, a citizen of a foreign country who seeks to enter the United States must obtain a United States visa, which is placed in the traveler's passport from their country of origin.

The applicant's valid passport to travel to the United States must also have a valid date of 6 months beyond the applicant's scheduled time of stay in the U.S. In addition, the applicant must also have an ink free digital fingerprint scan completed.

There are two main types of visas. A non-immigrant visa allows for a temporary stay in the U.S. An immigrant visa allows the individual to have permanent residence. The reason for your visit - along with other facts - will determine what type of visa is required under U.S. immigration law. An officer of your embassy or consulate determines the type of visa an individual requires.

An individual that is applying for a non-immigration visa must complete and sign the electronic version of the March 2006 DS 156 Form.

An individual applying for permanent residence must file a Form DS 1648 online, then submit a confirmation page that is generated at the end of the form. The confirmation page must have the embassy, mission, or organization seal affixed to it.

An individual applying for an immigrant visa must be sponsored by a U.S. citizen - this can be a relative, a U.S. lawful permanent resident, or by a prospective employer.

If an individual desires to obtain legal permanent residence in the United States and he has a relative who is already a permanent legal citizen of the U. S., that legal relative can sponsor the individual seeking legal residence. However, that sponsor must prove that she can financially take care of the applicant.

The relative sponsoring the person seeking legal residence must first complete an immigration visa petition Form I-130.  Upon approval of the I-130 Form by the United States Citizen and Immigration Services, the sponsor will continue the process by completing and signing an Affidavit showing proof of income and the ability to financially support the applicant.

Once the application process has been completed and the individual has been granted a visa, that person can now make travel plans and purchase tickets. However, one thing that is important to remember is that just because an individual receives a visa it does not guarantee him permission to enter the United States. The visa only allows for a foreign citizen to travel to a port of entry into the United States. Once they are there he can request permission to enter the U.S.


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