Millions of people enter and leave the United States every year. It is a popular tourism and immigration destination. However, if you are not a resident of the US, you will most likely need a visa to enter the country.
What is a US Visa?
A US visa is generally a stamp that you get on your travel document, more specifically your passport, which means that you are eligible to enter the United States. Having a US Visa does not necessarily mean that you will enter the US, as this is at the discretion of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and the Customs and Borders Protection (CPB) Inspectors.
You might have a US Visa but if the inspectors of these departments do not see you as fit to enter the country for reasons that might remain at their discretion, you will be denied entry into the US.
Who Needs a US Visa?
Citizens of Visa Waiver Countries and citizens of Bermuda and Canada do not need a visa to visit the US. The Visa Waiver Program allows citizens of 38 countries to visit the US for business or travel purposes for 90 days. Anyone who wants to visit the US for longer periods of time needs to obtain a US visa.
To determine whether you can travel to the US under the Visa Waiver Program, you can use our free ESTA eligibility checking tool.
What are US Visa Categories?
Getting a visa for the USA is a lengthy procedure and what kind of visa you get depends on why you want to enter the country. In general, there are two types of visas for the United States:
- Non-immigrant visas– which mean that you are eligible to enter the US and stay there temporarily
- Immigrant visas – which grant you permission to live in America permanently
Both non-immigrant and immigrant visas also have sub-categories which are determined on the basis of the purpose of your visit.
US Visa Types
The categories of USA visas have other types of US visas depending on why you want to visit the country. We will go through the most common types of American visas so that you can understand what each one entails.