The U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) provides several categories of Non-Immigrant visas for those who want to visit or work temporarily in the United States.
You can find out more about each type of visa from the travel.state.gov website, or by clicking on the Visa Type below.
Generally, a citizen of a foreign country who wishes to enter the United States must first obtain a visa, either a Non-Immigrant visa for temporary stay, or an immigrant visa for permanent residence. Visitor visas are Non-Immigrant visas for persons who want to enter the United States temporarily for business (visa category B-1), tourism, pleasure or visiting (visa category B-2), or a combination of both purposes (B-1/B-2).
Here are some examples of activities permitted with a visitor visa:
- vacation (holiday)
- visit with friends or relatives
- medical treatment
- participation in social events hosted by fraternal, social, or service organizations
- participation by amateurs in musical, sports, or similar events or contests, if not being paid for participating
- enrollment in a short recreational course of study, not for credit toward a degree (for example, a two-day cooking class while on vacation).
Travelers With Criminal Records
- Convictions for certain crimes may make you ineligible to travel to the U.S. The only way to know for sure if your criminal record makes you ineligible is to apply for a visa. Only a consular officer can determine your visa eligibility.
- You need to bring a copy of your Criminal History Report with you to the visa interview.
- Even if your conviction makes you ineligible to travel to the U.S., you may be able to obtain a temporary waiver of this ineligibility. You should discuss this with the consular officer at the time of the interview. Waiver processing can take 6 – 8 months, so if you think you may require a waiver, please apply early. We always recommend you do not make any financial commitments for travel until you have received a visa.
- A special note about applicants with DRUNK DRIVING convictions: According to USCBP applicants with a single DIC/DUI conviction is NOT grounds to deny entry into the U.S; however, multiple DIC/DUI convictions or a DIC/DUI conviction in combination with other misdemeanor offenses can make a person inadmissible and require a waiver prior to entering the United States.
- If you have had any minor traffic offenses which did not result in an arrest or conviction, you may use the VWP, provided you are otherwise qualified. If the traffic offense occurred while you were in the United States, and you have an outstanding fine against you or you did not attend your court hearing, it is possible there may be a warrant out for your arrest. You should resolve these issues before traveling by contacting the court where you were to appear. If you do not know the address of the court, information is available on the U.S. Courts website.