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If you are a citizen of a foreign country, and you wish to enter the United States, you must first obtain a visa.
The visa must be either a nonimmigrant visa for a temporary stay, or an immigrant visa for permanent residence within the United States. The type of visa you must have depends on your purpose for traveling to the United States.
Keep in mind that a visa does not guarantee your entry into the United States.
A visa simply grants you permission to a U.S. port of entry, where the immigration inspector for the Department of Homeland Security will determine your admissibility into the United States.
Starting the Visa Application Process
The visa application process starts when you schedule an appointment with the U.S. Consulate or Embassy in your geographical location. You must plan your appointment well in advance of your planned travel.
Appointment wait times will vary from city to city.
Visa Application Fees
You must pay all visa application fees prior to your appointment with the U.S. Consulate or Embassy. These fees are nonrefundable. You must also submit the required supporting documentation to the consular officer who will review your application.
The consular may require you to submit additional information or documentation while reviewing your application.
Issuance of Visas
There is no guarantee that you will be issued a visa after you submit the required information to the consular for review.
However, if you are approved for a visa, it will be issued within a few weeks after your interview and submission of your application to the consular reviewing your materials.
When you arrive at a U.S. port of entry, expect additional processing. If you arrive by plane, you will be asked to document your arrival and departure.
You will also be interviewed by a U.S. official before you proceed to baggage claim and U.S. Customs.