The US is part of a program called the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). Countries that are a part of the Visa Waiver Program, do not need to apply for a visa. Instead, their trip must be for business or tourism, the trip must be less than 90 days, and they must be a part of the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA). To see a list of countries that are part of VWP, please click here:
If you are coming to the US for a short business trip or just to visit, and the country you are from is not part of VWP, you must apply for a B1/B2 visa.
The first thing you will do is fill out the DS-160 online and upload a photo of yourself.
After you fill out the application, then an interview will be scheduled at the Embassy or Consulate you applied at. At the interview you will be asked about your trip, where you are going and why, how long you are planning on staying for, and how you are able to afford the trip.
It is important to show that you have strong ties to your home country, such as your mortgage if you own a home, that you have a stable job, most of your family lives in your country, and that you have sufficient funds. If there is a specific reason for why you are traveling to the US such as a wedding or event, it is important to bring documentation of that. They will also take your fingerprints at the interview or before, depending on the location.
The application is $160 and there may be additional fees for the interview and the visa, if it is approved.
If the visa is approved, they will take your passport and issue the visa, then return your passport to you.
There may be other requirements, based on the Embassy or Consulate that you apply at, so you should check for any additional requirements for your particular Embassy or Consulate.
*Side Note: If your country is part of VWP, but you are also a national of Iraq, Iran, Syria, or Sudan, then you cannot enter through VWP. If your country is part of VWP and you have traveled to or been present in Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, or Yemen on or after March 1, 2011, then you cannot enter the US through the VWP.
If you have any questions about the Visa Waiver Program or would like to apply for a B1/B2 visa please contact our office.