What is a Visa?
NOTICE: The Department of State Bureau of Consular Affairs is currently experiencing technical problems with our passport/visa system. This issue is worldwide and is not specific to any particular country, citizenship document, or visa category. We apologize to applicants who are experiencing delays or are unable to obtain a passport, Consular Report of Birth Abroad, or visa at this time. We are working urgently to correct the problem and expect our system to be fully operational again soon.
A visa represents permission to apply to enter the United States. A visa is issued by a U.S. Embassy or Consulate and entitles the holder to travel to the United States and apply for admission. A Consular Officer decides whether an applicant is qualified for a visa. The visa allows a foreign citizen to travel to a port of entry in the United States, such as an international airport, seaport or land border crossing. At the port of entry, an officer of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) decides whether to allow the applicant to enter and how long he/she may stay. For more information on visas please visit the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs website.
Please use this link to apply for a visitor, student, exchange, or other non-immigrant visa.
Citizens of certain countries may be able to travel without a visa on the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) if they meet certain conditions. All VWP travelers should be aware that the DHS has announced implementation of the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA), which began to accept voluntary ESTA applications starting on August 1, 2008. ESTA is a fully automated, electronic system for screening passengers before they begin travel to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program. ESTA applications may be submitted at any time prior to travel to the United States, and VWP travelers are encouraged to apply for authorization as soon as they begin to plan a trip to the United States. ESTA became mandatory for VWP travelers from all VWP member countries on January 12, 2009. Learn more about ESTA, including how to apply for authorization, on the DHS Customs and Border Protection (CBP) website.