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US Tourist Visa: Do I need a Travel Visa for USA?

A US tourist visa is one of several forms of travel authorization for the United States of America. It permits holders to legally enter the country for short-term visits.

There are a number of types of USA travel visas available.

Current non-immigrant USA visa and travel authorization types include the following:

  • B1 Visa: a short-term business visa for the USA.
  • B2 Visa: a US visitor visa that permits entry for tourism and leisure purposes.
  • B1/B2 Visa: a combined US tourist visa and business visa.
  • ESTA USA: allows travelers from certain authorized countries to travel to the US for tourism, business, and transit.

Who Needs an ESTA Tourist Visa for the USA?

Citizens from over 30 US visa waiver countries can apply for an online ESTA travel authorization:

Citizens of countries that are not part of the Visa Waiver Program are not eligible to apply for an online ESTA tourist visa. Ineligible ESTA nationals that intend to travel to the United States for business or tourism, Instead, they must obtain a tourist or business visa from their nearest US Embassy or Consulate.

Types of Travel Visa for the USA

The Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) is a USA visa waiver that functions as both a US tourist visa and business visa, permitting entry for these purposes.

The ESTA is available online and is quick and easy to obtain when compared with traditional visas. However, it is only available to holders of passports issued by the 39 visa waiver countries listed above.

There are two types of USA visitor visas for people who wish to travel to the United States for short periods of time and cannot obtain the US ESTA.

The B1 visa for USA is a business visitor visa that can be used for the following activities:

  • Consult with business associates.
  • Attend a scientific, educational, professional, or business convention or conference.
  • Settle an estate.
  • Negotiate a contract.

The B2 visa for USA is a visit visa that can be used for the following activities:

  • Tourism.
  • Vacation.
  • Visit friends or family.
  • Medical treatment.
  • Participation in social events hosted by fraternal, social or service organizations.
  • Participation by amateurs in musical, sports, or similar contests or events for which payment is not received.
  • Enrollment in a short recreational course of study (not for credit toward a degree).

Travelers who are not eligible to apply for the ESTA should contact their nearest consulate or embassy.

How Can I Get a Tourist Visa to USA?

In order to obtain a USA tourist visa, international travelers should first check which visa or travel authorization they require.

Nationals of eligible countries can apply online for the ESTA, which is much quicker and easier than acquiring a USA visitor visa.

To get a tourist visa to the USA, the applicant must have a valid passport and should complete the DS-160 form.

All people who wish to get a US visit visa will have to get an appointment at their nearest US Embassy or consulate and present the respective documents.

How Can I Get an ESTA Tourist Visa Waiver for the US?

Eligible travelers can gain authorization to enter the US by completing the ESTA application form online.

This involves submitting the following information:

  • Basic personal data (full name, date of birth, etc.)
  • Passport details (document number, expiry date, etc.)
  • Contact information (email address, telephone number, etc.)

Applicants must also answer a few quick security questions.

It takes a matter of minutes to complete the form. Travelers are advised to double-check all their answers before submitting the application for the American visa waiver, since small errors can lead to delays or even rejection of applications.

The vast majority of ESTA applications are approved within 72 hours.

US Visitor Visa Requirements

In order to obtain authorization to visit the US, international travelers must comply with US visa requirements.

All travelers are required to:

  • Have a valid passport
  • Submit an application form
  • Pay the visa processing fee

In order to obtain the ESTA, the B1 and B2 visas, a number of documents must be submitted along with the application.

US tourist visa requirements, business visa requirements, and ESTA requirements all differ slightly.

Applicants for the ESTA must be a citizen of one of the countries in the Visa Waiver Program.

What Documents Are Required to Get a Tourist Visa to the US?

Visitors from countries that can apply for the ESTA must submit the following documents as part of their application:

Citizens who are not eligible for the ESTA will need to present the following USA visitor visa documents to apply for the regular tourist visa to the United States (B1/B2).

  • DS-160 confirmation page
  • The receipt of the paid fee for the US tourist visa application
  • A valid passport and sized photos
  • Copy of appointment letter
  • Recent proof of income, tax payments, ownership business or property, or assets.
  • Travel itinerary or other additional documents for what you have planned for your trip

Read more about all the USA visitor visa applicant documents required to obtain the tourist visa.

Further documentation may be required when applying for a visa for the USA at an embassy or upon entering the country. For example, if the purpose of the trip is to seek medical treatment, the traveler might have to provide a medical diagnosis from a local doctor explaining the nature of the illness and why it should be treated in the US.

To apply for the tourist visa to the USA the traveler must complete all of the sections on the form and follow all the guidelines.

The travel visa for the USA will be stamped on one of the pages of your passport. Visitors are advised to have at least 2 empty pages within the passport.

Once in the States, a CBP officer will provide you with an admission stamp or the I-94 paper, which represents your official Arrival/Departure Record. You may remain in the US within the dates, indicated on this paper and must leave the country before/on the indicated departure date.

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