How to Apply for Entry to the United States

Applying for entry to the United States is a process that would take a significant amount of time. The U.S.A. government is implementing a strict set of rules to ensure the safety of its people and those visiting their country. But this does not hinder travellers from visiting the U.S. Steady growth of inbound travelers to the U.S has been observed, with 63.48 million in 2011 and 79.62 million visiting the U.S. in 2018.

There are various reasons for visiting the U.S.A. It is a unique country that hosts a diverse set of people with various religions, races, traditions, and political beliefs. You will always find something interesting with its numerous museums, evolving fashion style, diverse cuisine, and hidden attractions. You will suitably fit somewhere, whether you love the hustles of a big city, a quiet life in a small town, or the scenic view in secluded locations. With that being said, here are methods for applying entry to the United States.

Visa Waiver Program

For a select group of countries, a visa waiver program was designed by the U.S. to replace the Visa system. The ESTA USA or Electronic System for Travel Authorization is an automated system for entering the U.S. Length of stay is 90 days and a validity of 2 years with the opportunity of multiple entries. However, there is only a selection of eligible countries for this program, such as Australia, Belgium, Chile, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, to name a few. 

Visa Application

The most common way to enter the U.S. is through the application of a visa. The visa is a document issued by a U.S. consulate to non-US citizens for entry to the U.S. Depending on the purpose, the following are the types of visas.

Business or Professional Visa

The nonimmigrant North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) Professional visa is specifically for citizens of Canada and Mexico who would be working in the U.S. The process of application involves obtaining a letter from a future employer regarding the offer of a position, filing of forms and attending an interview. 

Visitor Visa

This is the type of visa you need if you are travelling to the U.S for a brief period for business or tourism. Classifications under this visa type are B-1 and B-2, with the former granted for travellers attending a conference, meeting with associates, or for settling an estate or negotiating of contract. The B-2 classification is for tourists on vacation or those visiting theU.S.. for medical treatment or social events. For pregnant women visiting the U.S., it is the CBP Officer’s discretion if your entry will be allowed.

Transit Visa

If your ultimate destination is not the U.S., but you will be stopping in the country briefly, then the transit visa is for you. A transit visa is required for tourists having a brief layover in theU.S.. or for cruise ship passengers wherein the vessel is to make port in the U.S.A, even if the final destination is another country. 

Student Visa

This type is given to international students after being accepted by a school accredited in the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP). If pursuing academic studies, the F-1 classification is granted, while the M-1 type is given when pursuing vocational studies. 

Refugees and Asylum

For people who fled their homes and seeking protection, the U.S. also provides certain processes for entry in their borders. For refugees, the person is required to contact the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) or any international nonprofit volunteer agency to assist in entering the U.S. 

With the information above, hopefully, you now have a clearer understanding of how to enter the U.S legally. If you are still uncertain about the procedures and type of visa to apply for, it is best to consult with a professional. Just ensure that these organizations are legal and accredited. For protection, it is best to consult with the nearest U.S. embassy in your country.


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