A record 67 million foreigners who visited the U.S. in 2012, according to the U.S. Commerce Department. The record is expected to be broken in 2013. While there were fewer European travelers than the year before, there was a rise in travel from Asia and Latin America that more than made up the difference. The major ports of entry for foreign visitors last year were in New York, Miami and Los Angeles, which welcomed 39 percent of all foreign nationals arriving in the U.S.
What a foreign national needs to legally enter and visit the U.S.
There are different requirements for foreigners who wish to visit the United States, depending on their country of origin. Canadian citizens are generally admitted to the U.S. without the need of a visa. Citizens of the 37 countries who are part of the Visa Waiver Program may travel to the U.S. as tourists or for business without having to first obtain a visa. The travel must be temporary with their stay in the U.S. limited to 90 days. Participating countries in the Visa Waiver Program include France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Japan and the U.K. The traveler must have a machine-readable passport that has biographical data which can be scanned at the port of entry.
Tourist and business travel visas
Foreign nationals who are not citizens of Canada or a Visa Waiver Program country will need a B-1 or B-2 visa to travel to the United States. A B-2 visa is for tourists, while a B-1 visa is for those traveling for business purposes. A B-1 or B-2 visa does not allow you to work or attend school. The procedure for obtaining a B-1 or B-2 visa consists of completing the online visa application, paying the visa application fee and scheduling an interview at your local U.S. Embassy or Consulate. The issuance of the visa is no foregone conclusion. The interviewing officer will seek to ascertain the following:
- The purpose of your visit to the U.S.
- Your ability to pay for the costs of travel and for your stay in the U.S.
- Your intent to leave and return home following your visit
Depending on your age, health and past history, you may be required to provide supporting documentation regarding the nature of your visit or proof you are employed at home and have sufficient ties to your home country. Different posts may be more strict than others, based on a history of overstays in the U.S. or other immigration violations from applicants in your home country.
There are many situations in which a tourist or business traveler will need the help of an experienced Florida immigration attorney familiar to prepare for the visa interview.