Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA)
ESTA is an automated system that determines the eligibility of visitors to travel to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) which permits citizens of 40 countries to travel to the United States for business or tourism for stays of up to 90 days without a visa. Authorization via ESTA does not determine whether a traveler is admissible to the United States. U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers determine admissibility upon travelers’ arrival. The ESTA application collects biographic information and answers to VWP eligibility questions. ESTA applications may be submitted at any time prior to travel, though it is recommended that travelers apply as soon as they begin preparing travel plans or prior to purchasing airline tickets.
United States Visitor Visa
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).
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.
Visa Appointment Wait Times
Advance travel planning and early visa application are important. If you plan to apply for a nonimmigrant visa to come to the United States as a temporary visitor, please review the current wait time for an interview using the tool below. Not all visa applications can be completed on the day of the interviews.
Letter of Invitation
A letter of invitation may be added to a traveler’s visa application. However, this letter is not significant to the US state department. The US government issues visas based on the ability of travelers to prove that they will return to their home country after visiting the USA. Please read this letter from Executive Administer Sanjeev Ahuja for more information. If you would still like to include a standard letter of invitation, which will list information on the International Convention but will not include any of your personal information, this can be requested during the online registration process.
Currently, the United States requires international travelers to be fully vaccinated with the primary series of an accepted COVID-19 vaccine to travel to the United States by plane. Only limited exceptions apply. For more information see Requirement for Proof of COVID-19 Vaccination for Air Passengers.
A tool to help you know the requirements to board a flight to the United States.
CDC’s guidelines on what to do if you were exposed to COVID-19