Visa to enter the United States

The United States is a very popular tourist destination. Millions of travelers enter or leave, or simply pass through the country each year. The country is also an immigration destination that dreams millions of citizens around the world. Some of these residents from the rest of the world are applying for an immigrant visa or are trying their luck at the Green Card Lottery.

Entry into the United States for all citizens of the world wishing to travel or immigrate requires a visa to enter the country.

In this article, we will review all the different authorizations available depending on whether it is a stay or rather an immigration process. First, let’s start from the beginning with the explanation of what a Visa is.


What is an American visa?

An American visa is an administrative authorization obtained beforehand to embark on your trip to the United States. It means that you have the right to enter US territory. Having this American visa does not necessarily mean that you will enter the United States, however, because the final decision is at the discretion of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the customs and protection inspectors. borders (CPB) when you arrive at the borders.

You can successfully obtain a visa for the United States, but if the inspectors of these departments do not find you fit to enter the country for any reason that belongs to them, you will not be able to enter the United States.


Who needs a US visa?

Citizens of visa-exempt countries, as well as citizens of Bermuda and Canada, do not need a visa to enter the United States. The Visa Waiver Program allows citizens of VWP member countries to travel to the United States for business or tourism purposes for 90 days by obtaining a simple ESTA. To be able to travel the United States for more than 90 days, you absolutely need to obtain a United States visa. To determine if you can travel to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program, you need to understand whether you need a visa or an ESTA . You can read our article on what are the ESTA requirements in order to verify your eligibility to obtain the ESTA .

To determine if you can travel to the United States under the visa waiver program, you need to understand whether you need a visa or an ESTA . You can consult our article on what are the ESTA requirements in order to verify your eligibility to obtain ESTA.


US visa photo

Here’s what an American visa looks like. It has been modified to delete the holder’s personal information.

Your photo ID must be less than six months old. She must respect the directives presented in the image in terms of face position and dimensions of the photo ID.

When applying for a visa on the CEAC US website, you will download the photo and it will be analyzed. The site will analyze the photo, if it suits you you will get the message: “Photo passed quality standards”.

US visa picture
Image of a US visa with photo ID requirements

What are the main US visas for non-immigrants

Obtaining a visa for the United States is a lengthy procedure and the type of visa you obtain depends on the reason for which you wish to enter the country. We will review the most common types of American visas so that you can understand what each involves.

In general, there are two types of visas for the United States:

For the purpose of this article, we are going to deepen and mainly introduce you to non-immigrant visas. You can obtain more detailed information on the website dedicated to obtaining a visa for the USA.

Visas to enter the USA as non-immigrants are only used for temporary stays in the territory, they cannot be the means of entering the country if in the end the intention is to stay there permanently. Some of these visas allow you to work in the USA.

The following list presents the main non-immigrant US visas with a short description to help you better understand those they apply to:

A visas for representatives of foreign governments and NATO

A visas are intended for diplomats or representatives of foreign governments who travel to the United States for official purposes or who represent their government in the United States. All diplomats must apply for a Visa to enter the United States, the only exception concerns the head of state or government of the country, such as the president or the prime minister, who has no no need for an A1 Visa to enter the United States.

B1 visa business travelers

The B1 visa can be granted to those who wish to travel to the United States for business reasons such as:

B2 visa for tourists

The B2 visa is granted to travelers for tourist reasons, such as:

B1 and B2 visas have a very different use for travelers to the United States, check your eligibility for one or the other before applying to the United States administration.

C visa for transit

Visa C is a transit visa for the USA. This means that you are going to go through the United States, but that your final destination is located in another country. On the other hand, Visa C does not allow you to make a stop to see friends or your family, or to visit the country, you will need another appropriate visa in these cases.

E visas for traders and conventional investors

E visas are the result of existing trade treaties in certain sectors in the United States. There are two types of visa of this kind:

Student F Visas

F visas are intended for university and professional purposes. Depending on your school and your teaching sector, you will need to obtain the F1 visa or the M1 visa:

H1B visa for highly skilled workers

H1B visas are intended for people employed in highly specialized fields. This particular case means that these people have a higher diploma or work which cannot be accomplished without specific in-depth training.

J visa for travelers in exchange

The J visa is intended for exchanges with other countries, more specifically it concerns:

P visa for athletes and artists

For athletes, animators and artists, there are therefore three types of P visas:

Is there an alternative to the need to obtain a visa for entry into the United States?

There is an alternative to the visa, in addition to the Green Card, for travelers wishing to make short stays in the United States for tourist or professional reasons. Under the agreements made under the aegis of the Visa Waiver Program, individuals from the 38 partner countries of the program can apply for a travel authorization called ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization) . You do not have to obtain a visa to enter the USA.

This document is given to the applicant after he has passed a first security check in the form of a form accessible online. This will have 3 separate parts asking you questions about your identity, your passport, as well as your medical and legal history. After the verification of your information by the agents of the American Department of Homeland Security (DHS), you will obtain the ESTA allowing you to make several trips lasting 90 consecutive days during the 2 years of validity of the document.

To obtain ESTA, you can go to the official website of the United States Department of Homeland Security, but you will not benefit from the additional services available on platforms specialized in travel formalities. If you must obtain an ESTA for your trip, make your request several days before your departure and then leave with peace of mind.