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Temporary US Visitors
International visitors add greatly to our nation's cultural, education and economic life. We continue the proud tradition of welcoming visitors to the United States, with secure borders and open doors.
Temporary US Visits
Most Canadian citizens and many citizens from Visa Waiver Program countries can come to the U.S. without a visa if they meet certain requirements.
Visa waiver travelers from ALL 27 Visa Waiver Program countries must present a machine-readable passport at the U.S. port of entry to enter the U.S. without a visa, otherwise a U.S. visa is required.
The Visa Waiver Program (VWP) enables nationals of certain countries to travel to the United States for tourism or business [visitor (B) visa purposes] for stays of 90 days or less without obtaining a visa.
The program was established in 1986 with the objective of eliminating unnecessary barriers to travel, stimulating the tourism industry, and permitting the Department of State to focus consular resources in other areas. VWP eligible travelers may apply for a visa, if they prefer to do so. Not all countries participate in the VWP, and not all travelers from VWP countries are eligible to use the program. VWP travelers are required to apply for authorization though the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA), are screened at their port of entry into the United States, and are enrolled in the Department of Homeland Security's US-VISIT program.
Nonimmigrant visas are for international travelers, (citizens of other countries), coming to the U.S. temporarily. This visa allows you to travel to a U.S. port-of-entry (airport, for example) and request permission of the Department of Homeland Security immigration inspector to enter the U.S. A visa does not guarantee entry into the United States.
International travelers come to the U.S. for a wide variety of reasons, including tourism, business, medical treatment and certain types of temporary work. The type of visa needed is defined by immigration law, and relates to the principal purpose of your travel. For an overview of the types of nonimmigrant visas available under immigration law, please see Nonimmigrant Visa Classifications on the USCIS website. The Consular Officer at your embassy or consulate will decide what kind of visa you need, when you apply.
Advance planning can smooth the visa application process for you.
Apply for your Visa well in advance of your travel! Important steps to remember:
- Review your visa status, and find out if you need a U.S. visa or a renewal.
- Review the visa wait times information for interview appointments and visa processing at each embassy and consular section worldwide available on our website at Visa Wait Times. Visit the embassy or consular section website where you will apply for your visa to find out how to schedule an interview appointment, pay fees and any other instructions.
- Plan on an interview at the embassy or consulate, which is required for most visa applicants. As part of the visa interview, quick inkless fingerprint scans should be expected. Some visa applications require additional administrative processing, which requires some additional time. Applicants are advised when they apply.