Visa Information for Travelers to the United States of America
This page is intended to provide general information to individuals planning to visit the United States temporarily. The purpose of the visit determines what type of visa will be needed. If you require a visa, please recognize that the visa application process may take many months. An interview appointment is required for a visa application at all embassies and consulates. The wait time for this appointment varies, but may be as long as four months, with processing taking an additional month or more.
As soon as you have decided to attend the meeting, you should begin the process of applying for a visa. Visitors planning to visit or attend a meeting most likely will apply for a B-1 visa. For comprehensive B-1 Visa information please visit the US State Department’s Visitor Visa Website.
Visa Waiver Program (VWP)/Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA)
The Visa Waiver Program (VWP) enables eligible citizens or nationals of designated countries to travel to the United States for tourism or business for stays of 90 days or less without first obtaining a visa, when they meet all requirements. An approved Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) allows a citizen of a Visa Waiver Program participating country to travel to a U.S. port-of-entry (generally an airport) and request permission to enter the United States. An approved ESTA does not guarantee entry into the United States. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS), U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials at the port-of-entry have authority to permit or deny admission to the United States.
Citizens of Mexico traveling to the US have the option to secure a Border Crossing Card rather than a B-1 visa. Additionally, citizens of Canada and Bermuda traveling for visitor visa purposes may not need a visa, with some exceptions.
Port of Entry
A visa allows travel to the United States Port of Entry and request permission to enter the U.S. Applicants should be aware that a visa does not guarantee entry into the United States. The Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials have authority to permit or deny admission to the United States. If you are allowed to enter the U.S., the CBP official will determine the length of your visit on the Arrival-Departure Record (Form I-94). I-94 records are now electronic.
In advance of travel, prospective travelers should review important information about international travel tips, as well as information related to restrictions about bringing food or agricultural products or other restrictions as explained on the Department of Homeland Security, Customs and Border Protection website.
- US State Department’s Visitor Visa Website
- FAQ about VWP & ESTA
- Know Before You Go
- I-94 Instructions
- 1-94 Factsheet (pdf)