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Do I Need a Visa to Visit the U.S.?

Are you interested in visiting the United States for a vacation or a holiday, or to visit your family? Or, are you a permanent resident or a U.S. citizen who has friends or family abroad who want to visit you and see the sights in the process?

In either case, you may be wondering, “Do foreign citizens have to obtain a visa in order to visit the United States for pleasure?” That is a valid question – continue reading for your answer.

Generally, if a foreign citizen simply wishes to visit the United States, and they are not looking to live or work here, the first order of business is to obtain a “visitor visa.” However, travelers who live in certain countries are not required to obtain a visitor visa if they are coming for a short stay.

What is the visa waiver program?

The United States has what is called the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). Under this program, travelers who live in certain countries can visit the U.S. for up to 90 days while on business or for tourism without having to obtain a visitor visa.

The VWP covers citizens from nearly 40 different countries, some of which include:

  • Australia
  • Belgium
  • Denmark
  • Estonia
  • France
  • Germany
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Japan
  • Netherlands
  • New Zealand
  • South Korea
  • Switzerland
  • United Kingdom

If you wish to travel to the U.S. without a visa on the VWP, before you board a U.S. bound plane or ship, you must obtain authorization through the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA).

Due to the recent terrorist attacks, the Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act of 2015 was established to deter terrorism on U.S. soil.

Under this Act, nationals from Iran, Iraq, Sudan and Syria cannot come to the U.S. through the VWP. Instead, they must apply for a visa through the normal process via the U.S. Embassy or Consulate.

For further information about the VWP or applying for a visa, contact a Plano immigration attorney at The Zendeh Del Law Firm, PLLC.