Generally, a citizen of a foreign country who wishes to enter the United States must first obtain a visa, either a nonimmigrant visa for a temporary stay, or an immigrant visa for permanent residence. Visitor visas are nonimmigrant visas for persons who want to enter the United States temporarily for business (visa category B-1), for tourism (visa category B-2), or for a combination of both purposes (B-1/B-2).
Here are some examples of activities permitted with a visitor visa:
Travel Purposes Not Permitted On Visitor Visas
Visitor visas will also not be issued for birth tourism (travel for the primary purpose of giving birth in the United States to obtain U.S. citizenship for their child).
How to Apply
There are several steps to apply for a visa. The order of these steps and how you complete them may vary by U.S. Embassy or Consulate. Please consult the instructions on the U.S. Embassy or Consulate website.
Complete the Online Visa Application
Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application, Form DS-160 – Learn more about completing the DS-160. You must: 1) complete the online visa application and 2) print the application form confirmation page to bring to your interview.
Photo – You will upload your photo while completing the online Form DS-160. Your photo must be in the format explained in the Photograph Requirements.
Schedule an Interview
Interviews are generally required for visa applicants with certain limited exceptions below. Consular officers may require an interview of any visa applicant.
If you are age: Then an interview is:
13 and younger Generally not required
14-79 Required (some exceptions for renewals)
80 and older Generally not required
You should schedule an appointment for your visa interview at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in the country where you live. You may schedule your interview at another U.S. Embassy or Consulate, but be aware that it may be more difficult to qualify for a visa outside of the country where you live.
Wait times for interview appointments vary by location, season, and visa category, so you should apply for your visa early. Review the interview wait time for the location where you will apply:
Appointment Wait Time
Check the estimated wait time for a nonimmigrant visa interview appointment at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate.
Note: Please check the individual Embassy or Consulate website to determine if your case is eligible for a waiver of the in-person interview.
Applicants scheduling visa appointments in a location different from their place of residence should check post websites for nonresident wait times.
Select a U.S. Embassy or Consulate:
Nonimmigrant Visa Type Appointment Wait Time
Interview Required Students/Exchange Visitors (F, M, J) 378 Calendar Days
Interview Required Petition-Based Temporary Workers (H, L, O, P, Q) 7 Calendar Days
Interview Required Crew and Transit (C, D, C1/D) 7 Calendar Days
Interview Required Visitors (B1/B2) 568 Calendar Days
Interview Waiver Students/Exchange Visitors (F, M, J) 10 Calendar Days
Interview Waiver Petition-Based Temporary Workers (H, L, O, P, Q) 10 Calendar Days
Interview Waiver Crew and Transit (C, D, C1/D) 1 Calendar Day
Interview Waiver Visitors (B1/B2) 10 Calendar Days
See details on appointment availability and processing times
Prepare for Your Interview
Fees - Pay the non-refundable visa application fee, if you are required to pay it before your interview. If your visa is approved, you may also need to pay a visa issuance fee, if applicable to your nationality. Fee information is provided below:
Select your nationality to see Issuance Fee
Enter a country/authority or area
Review the instructions available on the website of the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you will apply to learn more about fee payment.
Gather Required Documentation
Gather and prepare the following required documents before your visa interview:
Passport valid for travel to the United States – Your passport must be valid for at least six months beyond your period of stay in the United States (unless exempt by country-specific agreements). Each individual who needs a visa must submit a separate application, including any family members listed in your passport.
Nonimmigrant Visa Application, Form DS-160 confirmation page.
Application fee payment receipt, if you are required to pay before your interview.
Photo – You will upload your photo while completing the online Form DS-160. If the photo upload fails, you must bring one printed photo in the format explained in the Photograph Requirements.
Additional Documentation May Be Required
Review the instructions for how to apply for a visa on the website of the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you will apply. Additional documents may be requested to establish if you are qualified. For example, additional requested documents may include evidence of:
The purpose of your trip,
Your intent to depart the United States after your trip, and/or
Your ability to pay all costs of the trip.
Evidence of your employment and/or your family ties may be sufficient to show the purpose of your trip and your intent to return to your home country. If you cannot cover all the costs for your trip, you may show evidence that another person will cover some or all costs for your trip.
Note: Visa applicants must qualify on the basis of the applicant's residence and ties abroad, rather than assurances from U.S. family and friends. A letter of invitation or Affidavit of Support is not needed to apply for a visitor visa. If you choose to bring a letter of invitation or Affidavit of Support to your interview, please remember it is not one of the factors used in determining whether to issue or deny the visa.