If you plan to visit the USA for any reason, you’ll need a visa. There are different types of American Visas depending on the purpose of your trip, but they essentially count as immigrant or non-immigrant visas.
Before you start on your American Visa Application, you’ll need to know which kind suits your trip. It also helps to know about the application process and the requirements of each visa.
What is an American Visa?
Simply put, an American Visa Application is legal authorization for a foreign citizen to enter the USA. The length of stay and permissions you have within the country depend on the type of visa.
There are two types of American visas:
- Immigrant visa: People who want to permanently reside in the US need a US Immigrant visa. If you want to apply for this visa, then you have to be sponsored by a resident of the US. The person who is willing to sponsor the visa applicant has to submit an affidavit to the US embassy stating his/her financial capacity.
- Non-Immigrant Visa: People who want to enter American territory for Business meetings, Education or Study in USA, Vacation, Medical Treatment, who are residents outside America’s domestic circle, need a non-immigrant visa.
Some national citizens are eligible for the Visa Waiver Program. This means they don’t need to fill out an American Visa Application and can remain in the country for up to 90 days. It only covers non-immigrant visas, of course.
Within the broader visa categories (e.g. business) there are further types of visas. It’s worth knowing which is right before you start filing your American visa application.
Also, there are legal implications for each visa category. For example, a business visa means you can enter the US for something like training or a conference. Importantly, you’re not allowed to work for an American company during your stay and you must receive your wages from your foreign employer.
Knowing the types of visas can be confusing. The best thing to do before starting your American visa application is to use the government’s Visa Wizard. Alternatively, speak to a qualified US visa and immigration attorney.
American Visa Application Process
The most important thing to know about the visa application process is that it must happen in your own country and your visa must be approved before travel. It’s different from a Green Card, which is typically issued once you enter the US.
The process for American Visa Application is as follows:
- First, you need to complete the non-immigrant visa form (DS-160) online. You’ll also need to upload a photo and then print off confirmation for the next step.
- You must then make an appointment at your country’s US embassy or consulate. The appointment could be taken either through email or telephone. Prior to approaching the US embassy, check the fees for the US visa interview and the most suitable way to pay them. It’s generally done online using a credit card.
- You must take all the mandatory documents to the embassy, which includes a valid passport, the application form, and any documents to support the form. These might include details of employment, the purpose of travel to the US and proof of financial capability for payment of visa fees.
- Your application form, passport and all other documents of the American visa application are to be submitted to the US embassy or consulate. The visa approval takes a stipulated time period of four weeks. But your approval or denial is not guaranteed since it totally depends on the visa officer’s discretion.
- All the information you submit is then thoroughly scrutinized against a database. If there are any errors in the documents, then the process is automatically stopped and can get delayed due to security reasons.
So, it’s not a massively complicated process. However, the American visa application can be long-winded because of all the forms you need. If you come from a country not on great diplomatic terms with the US, you can expect further scrutiny.
Filing your American Visa Application
Generally speaking, you can usually submit your own American visa application. Something like a tourism visa is pretty easy to fill in, as you’re not asked as many questions.
Also, a business visa requires your employer’s input, so you can get them to do most of the background work. Of course, you’ll still need to go to the interview. Most non-immigrant American visas are straightforward.
However, this isn’t always the case with immigrant visas. Obtaining these can sometimes be a cumbersome task since there is a rigorous immigration process that has to be followed, and the US government has an assumption that people visit the US with an eye to permanently reside there. If you’re applying for an immigrant visa, this is usually true.
Consulting a visa agent can be quite beneficial for your chances of getting your American visa application approved. They have the expertise in visa assistance and ensure better chances for success in getting approval for your visa.
The biggest help with an immigrant visa is working out the correct category. Work and family visas are fairly obvious, and the most common. They either require sponsorship from immediate family or a US-based employer.
But, there are other categories you can use on an American visa application, such as special immigrant. This can mean different things, but includes being employed by the US in a foreign country. For example, many translators in countries like Iraq and Afghanistan fall into this category.
Knowing your way around the categories can improve your chances of success on an American visa application. Therefore, hiring an experienced visa agent is often a worthwhile decision.
Getting a Green Card
Obtaining a visa to travel to the United States of America can be quite a difficult job. But a well-planned endeavor that meets all requirements of the process, as well as consultation with a US visa professional, will certainly prove to be rewarding.
If you need a non-immigrant visa, you can generally handle this alone. But, if you need an immigrant visa, it’s in your best interest to hire a qualified professional.
Benefits of holding a Green Card for the United Sates.
If you’re wondering what the benefits of holding a US Green Card is, then you should read our articel: 7 benefits of having a Green Card