Visitor Visas and Programs

If you want to visit the United States you must first obtain a visa. The visitor visa categories allow visa holders to temporarily remain in the United States for visiting family, tourism, medical reasons, or certain business. Visitor visa holders must intend to return to their home country once their permitted stay expires. Travelers from certain countries may be exempt from the visitor visa requirement under the Visa Waiver Program (see below).

There are several steps to apply for a visa. These steps may vary depending on local rules at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you apply. Please consult the instructions for the particular location where you will apply. Interviews are required for most applicants, although there are some exceptions for children younger than 13 and adults older than 80. However, consular officers have the discretion to require an interview of any applicant no matter her or his age.

In most cases, you should schedule an appointment for your visa interview at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate in the country where you live. Although you may schedule your interview at any U.S. Embassy or Consulate, be aware that it may be more difficult to qualify for a visa outside of your country of permanent residence.

Wait times for interview appointments vary by location, season, and visa category, so you should apply for your visa early. Research the interview wait times for the location where you will apply.

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