Visas for Visitors to the U.S.

Get information about nonimmigrant visas, how to check the status of a visa application, and how to change/renew a visa.

Executive Order

Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the U.S.

The President signed a new Executive order that makes changes to the immigration policy.

These agencies have provided information to the public about traveling to the U.S. :

As more information becomes available, agencies will provide updates. If you are outside the United States, you may be able to find more information from the U.S. Embassy in your country.

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Check the Status of a Visa Application

To check on the status of your U.S. Visa application:

Visa Denials

U.S. consular officers have decision-making authority regarding nonimmigrant visa applications. If your application is denied, ask the consular officer to explain why. If your application was denied, you are not eligible to reapply for a visa, but can apply for a waiver instead.

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Loss or Theft of a Visa or Arrival/Departure Record

If you lost your visa or the Arrival/Departure Records (a Form I-94) to enter the U.S., the Bureau of Consular Affairs has guidance on reporting and re-issuance of travel documents:

  • File a police report and get the number of the report and the officer's name. 
  • Request replacement of a lost/stolen arrival/departure record (Form I-94).
  • Report lost/stolen to your embassy.
  • Report and apply for a replacement of your visa lost/stolen to the U.S. Embassy or consulate abroad.

Important Tip: Make a copy of your passport biographic page, U.S. visa and admission stamp or paper Form I-94.

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Visitor Visa

If you are planning a brief visit to the U.S., you might need a visitor visa. International travelers who are not citizens of countries participating in the U.S. Visa Waiver Program (VWP) will need a nonimmigrant visa to visit the U.S.

Nonimmigrant Visas for Business or Tourism Visits

The most common visitor visas are B-1 and B-2.

  • B-1 visa classification is for business travelers to consult with business associates, attend a conference, settle an estate, or negotiate a contract.
  • B-2 visa classification is for tourists on vacation and, people coming for medical treatment, a social event, or participation in amateur contests for no pay.

Learn more about B-1 and B-2 visas, including special information for citizens of Canada, China, Bermuda, and Mexico.

  • Transit C visa classification is for foreign nationals traveling through the U.S. to another country and stopping briefly in the U.S. as part of their travel to the next foreign destination.
  • Transit C-1, D, and C-1/D visas are for crewmembers of sea vessels or international airlines traveling to the U.S.

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Waiver Program for Tourists and Business Travelers

International travelers for business or pleasure who are citizens of one of the 38 countries that participate in the U.S.’s Visa Waiver Program (VWP) can get a visa waiver. While you do not need a visa to come to the U.S. for your business meeting or for vacation, you must get an approved travel authorization prior to your trip to the U.S.

How to Apply and Get Approval to Travel to the U.S.

Visitors traveling to the U.S. for tourism or business meetings or conferences under the VWP can stay for up to 90 days without a visa.

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Student and Vocational Training Visas

Eligibility

An international student can apply for a student or exchange visitor visa only after being accepted by a school certified in the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP). Students’ records are kept in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). Learn more about SEVP and SEVIS, and about the SEVIS fee.

Types of Educational Visas

Your course of study, the school you plan to attend, or the exchange program you will be with will determine the type of student visa you will need.

The most common student visas are F-1 and M-1 visas.

  • F-1 visa classification is for a full-time international student pursuing academic studies.
  • M-1 visa classification is for a full-time international student pursuing vocational studies.

Check out the differences between F-1 visas and M-1 visas and how to apply.

Learn about students on F-1 and M-1 visas and employment while in school.

  • J-1 visa classification is also known as the exchange visitor program (EVP) and is for foreign nationals approved to take part in work or study-based exchange programs. Examples include visiting scholar, camp counselor, or research assistant.  

Learn how to apply for a J-1 visa.

The duration of stay for J-1 visa holders depends on the agreement between you and your Department of State approved sponsoring organization. Find a Department of State  approved sponsoring organization or program.

Learn more about studying in the U.S.

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North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) Professional Visa

Eligibility

Only citizens of Canada and Mexico are eligible for a nonimmigrant North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) Professional visa to work in the U.S. The NAFTA Professional visa classification is TN and grants the holder temporary entry into the U.S. to work in business activities at a professional level for an initial period of up to three years.

How to Apply    

After getting a letter from your future employer confirming your offer of a position, the application processes varies for Canadian and Mexican citizens.

Canadian Citizens: a NAFTA Professional (TN) visa is usually not required. You can go directly to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) port of entry, with your documentation for an interview to be admitted to the U.S. as a nonimmigrant who can legally work in the U.S.

Mexican Citizens: a NAFTA Professional (TN) visa is required. Complete the online visa application form DS-160, print out the confirmation page, and bring it to your interview. If you are applying in Mexico, a photo is not required for your application.

Learn more about the process of applying for a TN nonimmigrant visa.

Prepare for Your Interview

Review this list of what you will need to bring to your in-person interview including what details need to be in your letter from your prospective employer.

 

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Last Updated: June 22, 2017

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