June 16, 2024

What is the Process for Getting a U.S. Visa? Graham Adair Explains it

Whatever your reason for wanting to enter the United States, it is likely that you will need to apply for a visa, unless that is you meet specific conditions such as already having a valid visa on your passport or if you are entitled to enter the U.S. without a visa under the electronic system for travel authorization (ESTA). This visa waiver program allows citizens of participating countries to stay in the U.S. for up to 90 days without applying for a visa. There are currently forty countries participating in this program.

If you do need a visa to enter the U.S., the reason you wish to enter will determine which visa to apply for. Those who are planning to visit for leisure, temporary work, to study, on a business trip, or for medical treatment will apply for a non-immigrant visa. If you wish to work and live in the U.S. permanently, you will need to apply for an immigrant visa.

Where and How to Apply for a Non-Immigrant Visa?

Should you need to apply for a U.S. visa, you can do so at your local U.S. Embassy or Consulate. For a non-immigrant visa you will need to complete form DS-160. This form asks for the following information:

  • Your first and second name
  • Date of birth
  • Place of birth
  • Marital status
  • Nationality
  • Full address including country
  • Email address
  • Phone number
  • Passport number
  • Family information
  • Education
  • Work information.

There is also a section of questions relating to security. For example, you will be asked to disclose if you have ever been arrested for any crime or if you have violated any controlled substance laws.

After you have completed the form, you will need to pay the application fees, which are non-refundable. Depending on the country where you live, you may also have to pay visa issuance fees. These are applicable for citizens from certain countries.

You will have to attend a visa interview and provide any requested documentation. After the interview, you must wait for the visa to be processed. It is important to apply for a visa as early as possible as current processing times are at their worst since the 9/11 terrorist attacks, according to a Cato Institute analysis report.

Applying for an Immigrant Visa

According to the immigration attorneys in Austin, Tx at Graham Adair, it is different when applying for an immigrant visa. In most cases, it will be necessary to have a sponsor or have someone file a petition on your behalf. The petition must be approved before an application can be made.

An immigrant visa must also be applied for through a U.S. Embassy or Consulate. This visa is also known as a Green Card and can be applied for under certain categories. These can include being a relative of a U.S. citizen, engaged to marry a U.S. citizen, have specialist skills, be investing in a targeted employment area, be claiming refugee status, or as an asylum seeker. As there are a variety of categories under which you can apply for a Green Card, it may be best to seek advice from an experienced immigration lawyer who will be able to provide you with all the information you need for a successful application.


The process for gaining entry to the United States can involve applying for a visa – either an immigrant or non-immigrant visa – depending on the reason you wish to enter. With a massive backlog in place in terms of processing these visas, it is advisable to apply sooner rather than later. Moreover, should you wish to apply for an immigrant visa, it may be worth seeking advice from an immigration attorney.