It is a common misconception that a visa automatically allows you entry to the United States. However, a visa is simply an indication that a US consular officer has reviewed your application and has determined you eligible to enter the United States. A visa only takes you as far as the port of entry (whether by air or land). After that, it is up to the immigration officer to determine if you will be allowed entry to the United States’ mainland. This part of the procedure is maintained by the US Department of Homeland Security.
US visas fall under two categories: immigrant visas and non-immigrant visas. The two are, in turn, divided into several types and categories.
Immigrant visas are for those who intend to live permanently in the United States. There are generally two ways for a person to be eligible to apply for an immigrant visa: he or she must be sponsored by a US citizen relative or by a prospective US employer. For the former, the US relative has to prove that he or she has enough income to support the foreign national.
Non-immigrant visas are for those who visit the United States temporarily. US law also requires that anyone who applies for a non-immigrant visa has to provide evidence that he or she does not plan to immigrate to the US. The Consular Officers in each of the US Embassies are those who determine this eligibility.
There are many types of non immigrant visas. The kind of visa the person needs is determined by immigration law. Usually, it relates to the principal purpose of the person’s travel to the US. Some of the more common non-immigrant visa categories include foreign government officials (A-1), visitors for business or pleasure (B-1, B-2), aliens in transit (C-1), academic students (F-1), and temporary workers and trainees (H-1).
Prospective US visa applicants need the following requirements when applying for a visa.
You must have a valid passport.
You must have signed and filled out the appropriate application form. Depending on your purpose for getting a visa, you will need a specific application form for it. You can check out your local US Embassy for the proper application forms.
You must supply documentation supporting that you have enough funds to cover all your expenses while in the United States, your present financial status, your reason for travel, and current and past employment records.
You must have a 2×2 inch photograph that was taken within the last six months, unmounted and full-faced. The photograph must be attached to the application form.
You must have proof of payment of fees.
The consular officer may require you to submit additional information or application forms.
When getting a visa, make an appointment with the US Embassy or Consulate first. While appointment procedures vary somewhat from country to country, you still need to make an appointment to apply for a visa. Walk-in applications are almost never entertained. An appointment can be made via telephone, mail, or personally.
Since there will be a significant wait time for appointments, it is advisable that you make the appointment as soon as you know you need to travel to the United States. Be sure to ask about the fees you need to pay. Application fees are non-refundable.
If you are a student applying for a student visa, coordinate with the US academic institution or the exchange program regarding other documents you might need for your application.
Also, you may be subjected to special clearance procedures before leaving your country. In such cases, your local consular officer will inform you of what to do. Additional interviews and verification processes might also be conducted. If you learn from this article, you’ll surely get more information from reading how to renew a U.S. Passport.