Visa is like a ticket which is required to enter any foreign country. Some countries may allow citizens of certain countries to enter without a visa. To obtain a visa, applicants should ensure that they first qualify for it and file the application under the most appropriate category.
Know about the US Visa
Any person who is a citizen of another country should first obtain a US visa to enter the US. This visa will be placed in the individual’s passport. There are instances where some travellers can be exempted from this visa requirement if they qualify under the Visa Waiver Program.
A US visa entitles a person to enter any US port of entry and request to be permitted to enter the US. Their visa should be approved by the US Department of Homeland Security and Customs and Border Protection inspector. When a person’s visa application is approved, it is an indication that the person is eligible to seek an admission into the US and not an entry into the US. Whether a person can be allowed to enter the US is determined only upon arrival at a US port of entry. The Department of State is the apex body which governs visa related matters. USCIS has no role in the visa process.
The US visa is of two basic types and a person has to choose the category depending upon his/her situation.
• Non- immigrant visas – For those intending to travel to the US only for a temporary period of time
• Immigrant Visas – For those who wish to live in the US on a permanent basis.
US visa for temporary visitors
There are many visas for those who are planning on a temporary visit to the US. This classification is based on the category of the applicant and the purpose of the visit to the US. Some of the commonly used visas are as follows
• B-1 – Professionals (Athletes, Amateurs etc.), Domestic employees
• B-2 – Tourists on pleasure trips
• A – Diplomats and foreign government officials
• R – Religious workers
• H1-B – Physicians, Specialty occupations requiring highly specialized knowledge
Apart from this there are many other US visas for temporary visit. Applicants should check with the US consulate in their country or the website of the US Department of Homeland Security before filing in their visa application.
Applicants can also file their visa applications online using Form DS-160. The Consular Office makes use of the information entered by the applicant on the form and the interview to arrive at a decision on the visa application. This can be done by accessing the electronic filing facility on the US Department of State’s website.
When a person is filing in visa application at a US Embassy, he/she should ensure that their application complies with all the mentioned specifications – photographs, supporting documents, filing fee etc.
Fees for non-immigrant US visa services
The fee for all non-petition based non-immigrant visas except E visas is $140 and for petition based category it is $150. For the E category visa, the fee comes to $390. Along with this visa application fee, there is an additional visa issuance fee to be paid. This fee can be checked on the website before filing.
There are certain categories of non-immigrant visas which do not require any application processing fee. Applicants who are getting J visas through which they are participating in US Government sponsored cultural exchanges or programs, applicants who are travelling to the US to offer charitable services are some who are exempt from this fee.
It is not possible to get a US visa approved as soon as an applicant files it as there are a number of applicants waiting in queue to get their visas cleared. Applicants should wait for an appointment for an interview at the US consulate. It is in this interview that a decision on the visa application will be taken. Next is the waiting time for the approved visa to get processed and delivered to the applicant. So it is always safe to apply for a US visa well in advance to ensure travelling on the planned time.
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