The purpose of your intended travel and other facts will determine what type of visa is required under U.S. immigration law. As a visa applicant, you will need to establish that you meet all requirements to receive the category of visa for which you are applying.
See our Directory of Visa Categories on usvisas.state.gov to determine which visa category might be appropriate for your purpose of travel to the United States.
What is a visa?
A U.S. Visa is a document affixed to a page in your passport and issued by a U.S. Embassy or a U.S. Consulate that gives you a permission to apply to enter the United States. A visa does not guarantee entry into the United States. It simply indicates that your application has been reviewed by a U.S. consul, who determined that you are eligible to travel to the port-of-entry – i.e., an international airport, a seaport or a land border crossing, and apply for admission for a specific purpose. Only a U.S. immigration officer of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has the authority to permit you to enter the United States and decide how long you can stay for any particular visit.
What is a Difference between Visa Validity and Length of Stay?
The visa expiration date and the length of time a traveler is allowed to remain in the United States are two different terms.
Visa validity is the time from the visa issuance date to the visa expiration date as shown on the visa. During this time the visa can be used to travel to the port-of-entry to apply to enter the United States. A visa can be issued for any number of entries, from as little as one entry to as many as multiple (unlimited) entries, for the same purpose of travel.
The expiration date for the visa should not be confused with the authorized length of your stay in the U.S., which is given to you by a U.S. immigration officer at the port-of-entry, on the Arrival-Departure Record, Form I-94.
We cannot guarantee that you will be issued a visa. Do not make final travel plans or buy tickets until you have a visa.
Visa application services call center agents – Contact Information site
Customer Service Statement
The Department of State manages the visa process strictly but fairly in order to best protect the United States. We are committed to the essential openness for which the United States has always been known. Travel to the United States is welcomed and encouraged.
We promise to you, the visa applicant, that:
- We will treat you with dignity and respect, even if we are unable to grant you a visa.
- We will treat you as an individual and your case as unique.
- We will remember that, to you, a visa interview may be a new or intimidating experience and that you may be nervous.
- We will use the limited time available for the interview to get as full a picture as possible of your travel plans and intentions.
- We will use our available resources to fairly assist all applicants to get appointments to allow travel in time for business, study, and other important obligations.
- We will post detailed and accurate information on visa requirements and application procedures on every Embassy and Consulate website.
- We will provide information on non-immigrant appointment waiting times at every Embassy and Consulate posted on http://travel.state.gov.
- We will explain the reason for any visa denial to you.
Furthermore, if you are a:
- Student, we will make every effort to ensure that you get an appointment and, if qualified, a visa in time to start classes.
- Medical and humanitarian emergency traveler, we will expedite processing for those dealing with life threatening emergencies.
- Business traveler, we will establish appropriate mechanisms to facilitate business travel and expedite cases of particular concern to American business.
At the same time, we expect you, the visa applicant, to:
- Plan your travel and visa application as far in advance as possible.
- Complete your application fully and accurately.
- Be forthcoming about your purpose and plans.
- Prepare for your interview by being able to clearly and concisely describe your intentions.