Generally, a citizen of a foreign country who wishes to enter the United States must first obtain a visa, either a nonimmigrant visa for a temporary stay, or an immigrant visa for permanent residence. Visitor visas are nonimmigrant visas for persons who want to enter the United States temporarily for business (visa category B-1), for tourism (visa category B-2), or for a combination of both purposes (B-1/B-2).
- Consult with business associates
- Attend a scientific, educational, professional, or business convention or conference
- Settle an estate
- Negotiate a contract
Learn more about Business Travel to the United States (PDF – 362 KB) on a visitor visa.
- Vacation (holiday)
- Visit with friends or relatives
- Medical treatment
- Participation in social events hosted by fraternal, social, or service organizations
- Participation by amateurs in musical, sports, or similar events or contests, if not being paid for participating
- Enrollment in a short recreational course of study, not for credit toward a degree (for example, a two-day cooking class while on vacation)
Learn more about Visitor Visas – Business and Pleasure (PDF – 1020 KB).
How to Apply
There are several steps to apply for a visa. The order of these steps and how you complete them may vary by U.S. Embassy or Consulate.
Complete the Online Visa Application
- Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application, DS-160. You must: 1) complete the online visa application and 2) print the application form confirmation page to bring to your interview.
- Photo – You will upload your photo while completing the online Form DS-160. Your photo must be in the format explained in the Photograph Requirements.
Schedule an Interview
Interviews are generally required for visa applicants with certain limited exceptions below.
If you are age:
Then an interview is:
|13 and younger||Generally not required|
|14-79||Required (some exceptions for renewals)|
|80 and older||Generally not required|
You should schedule an appointment for your visa interview at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in the country where you live. You may schedule your interview at another U.S. Embassy or Consulate, but be aware that it may be more difficult to qualify for a visa outside of the country where you live.
Wait times for interview appointments vary by location, season, and visa category, so you should apply for your visa early. Review the interview wait time for the location where you will apply:
Pay the non-refundable visa application fee, if you are required to pay it before your interview. If your visa is approved, you may also need to pay a visa issuance fee, if applicable to your nationality.
Gather Required Documentation
Gather and prepare the following required documents before your visa interview:
- Passport valid and must be valid for at least six months.
- Visa Application.
- Fee – payment receipt.
- Photo – You will upload your photo while completing the online Form DS-160. If the photo upload fails, you must bring one printed photo in the format explained in the Photograph Requirements.
- The purpose of your trip,
- Your intent to depart the United States after your trip, and/or
- Your ability to pay all costs of the trip.
Evidence of your employment and/or your family ties may be sufficient to show the purpose of your trip and your intent to return to your home country. If you cannot cover all the costs for your trip, you may show evidence that another person will cover some or all costs for your trip.
Note: Visa applicants must qualify on the basis of the applicant’s residence and ties abroad, rather than assurances from U.S. family and friends.
Attend Your Visa Interview
A consular officer will interview you to determine whether you are qualified to receive a visitor visa. You must establish that you meet the requirements under U.S. law to receive a visa.
Ink-free, digital fingerprint scans are taken as part of the application process. They are usually taken during your interview, but this varies based on location.
- An individual on a visitor visa (B1/B2) is not permitted to accept employment or work in the United States.
- There is no guarantee you will be issued a visa. Do not make final travel plans or buy tickets until you have a visa.
A valid U.S. visa in an expired passport is still valid. Unless canceled or revoked, a visa is valid until its expiration date. If you have a valid visa in your expired passport, do not remove it from your expired passport. You may use your valid visa in your expired passport along with a new valid passport for travel and admission to the United States.