The U.S. is a free and open society and welcomes citizens from around the world who genuinely want to visit, study, and do business here. Following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, some changes in the laws governing visitor entry and exit have been made. These changes in visa procedures reflect a concern for ensuring the safety of U.S. residents and visitors alike, not to make it more difficult for legitimate travelers to enter the United States. The US now requires additional application forms and security clearances. Visa applications now take longer to process.
General Visa Overview:
If you’re a citizen of a foreign country, in most cases you’ll need a visa to enter the United States.
A visa doesn’t permit entry to the U.S., however. A visa simply indicates that your application has been reviewed by a U.S. consular officer at an American embassy or consulate, and that the officer has determined you’re eligible to enter the country for a specific purpose. Consular affairs are the responsibility of the U.S. Department of State.
A visa allows you to travel to the United States as far as the port of entry (airport or land border crossing) and ask the immigration officer to allow you to enter the country. Only the immigration officer has the authority to permit you to enter the United States. He or she decides how long you can stay for any particular visit. Immigration matters are the responsibility of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
There are two categories of U.S. visas: immigrant and nonimmigrant.
Immigrant visas are for people who intend to live permanently in the U.S. Nonimmigrant visas are for people with permanent residence outside the U.S. but who wish to be in the U.S. on a temporary basis – for tourism, medical treatment, business, temporary work or study.
There are more than 20 nonimmigrant visa types for people traveling to the United States temporarily. There are many more types of immigrant visas for those coming to live permanently in the U.S. The type of Visa you need is determined by the purpose of your intended travel. For an overview of visa types, please see links below:
http://www.usvisa.com/ – USA business and commerce information
http://www.usvisa.com/employment_visas.shtml – Employment Visas
http://www.usvisa.com/student_visas.shtml – Student Visas
http://www.travel.state.gov/visa/temp/types/types_1268.html – Student Visas
http://www.travel.state.gov/visa/visa_1750.html – For specific information about each type of visa