Submitting a visa application can be necessary for travelers planning to travel to the United States of America. There are different types of visas for the US, each with a seperate travel purpose and requirements.
Travelers that fall under the ‘Visa Waiver Program’ don’t need a visa to travel to the US; they can apply for a so-called ESTA. An ESTA travel permit is easier, cheaper and faster to apply for than a US visa. Check carefully which of the two travel permits you need before submitting an application.
Travelers that fall under the ‘Visa Waiver Program’ generally don’t need a visa to travel to the US.
ESTA instead of visa
Submitting a US visa application is generally not necessary for travelers who want to stay in the US for less than 90 consecutive days, and who are arriving by plane or by boat with a business or tourist travel purpose. Travelers that fall under the Visa Waiver Program and meet these requirements can instead apply for an ESTA travel permit. Applying for an ESTA can be easily done online by filling in an application and paying for the required cost of £29,95 per person. After the ESTA statement has been processed, a confirmation of the approval is sent by e-mail by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency.
For travelers with a travel purpose other than business or tourism, and for travelers who want to stay in the US for longer than 90 consecutive days, applying for a visa is mandatory. In practice, this generally applies to travelers that want to study in the US, work there (enter into employment with an American organisation), or live in the USA. There are two types of US visas: Non-immigrant visas (for a temporary stay in the United States) and Immigrant-visas (for a permanent stay in the United States). Both can be applied for at the US embassy. You need to make an appointment for this.
Choosing the right US visa
It’s important to carefully check which US visa you need before starting an application. Below, you will find the different visas with their travel purposes.
- A-visa: For representatives of foreign governments, like diplomats
- B-1 visa: Business visa; for negotiations, conferences and conventions*
- B-2 visa: Tourist visa; for holidays, visiting family/friends and medical treatments*
- C-visa: For persons on a direct transit (the ESTA also suffices for this)
- D-visa: For crew of ships and international airlines
- E-visa: Business visa: for international trade, services and investments
- F-visa: Student visa; for following a study at an acknowledged American institution
- G-visa: For employees of international organisations in the US
- H-visa: For employers performing certain specialized
- I-visa: Business visa; for representatives of foreign media
- J-visa: for exchange projects, like au-pairs, to improve mutual understanding
- K-visa: For fiances of American citizens
- L-visa: For employers of a company with a holding in the US as well as in the home country
- M-visa: Student visa: for following studies at a technical/ vocational institution
- O-visa: For individuals with exceptional skill (science, education or sport)
- P-visa: For athletes, entertainers and artists, and their supporting personnel
- Q-visa: For people taking part in international cultural exchange programs
- R-visa: For religious employees
- S-visa: For witnesses and informants that help with law enforcement
- TN-visa: For professions that are on the NAFTA-list
- U-visa and T-visa: For victims of crimes helping with law enforcement
- V-visa: For underage children and spouses of US citizens