US Visa Policy

Visitors to the United States before entering this country must obtain a visa at one of the US diplomatic missions , unless:

  • Visitor from a country which is part of the Visa Waiver Program  ( Eng. Visa Waiver Program ), purpose of visit — business or tourism, a term visit — up to 90 days;
  • A visitor from a country whose citizens do not need a visa to enter the United States ( English exempted countries ).

Identical rules apply when entering Puerto Rico and the American Virgin Islands

General information

In 2014, the United States received more than nine and a half million foreigners, including 46,770 immigrants.

A foreign citizen who wishes to enter the United States must obtain a visa if he or she is not:

  • A citizen of one of the 38 countries included in the visa-free travel program .
  • Citizen of Canada , Marshall Islands , Micronesia , or the Republic of Palau .
  • Citizen of the British Overseas Territories from Bermuda or the Cayman Islands .
  • Citizen of the Bahamas or a citizen of the British Overseas Territories from the Turks and Caicos Islands (provided that you are traveling directly to the United States from your country with a valid passport and a police certificate issued within six months before travel, confirming that the visitor has no serious criminal record) .
  • US permanent resident .
  • A foreign citizen who is entitled to visa-free travel in accordance with other laws.

There are separate requirements for Mexican citizens . 

While there are about 185 different types of visas, all of them are divided into two categories:

  • Nonimmigrant visas  — for temporary travel to the United States for tourism , business , work or study .
  • Immigrant visas  — for people who have a desire to immigrate to the United States.

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