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FAQs for Obtaining Visas

If you would like to travel to the United States, either temporarily or permanently, you will most likely need a visa. There are many different types of visas and multiple valid reasons to travel to the United States. The process for obtaining visas can be very confusing, so here are some common questions and answers to make things a little easier.

Where Do I Apply for a Tourist Visa?

In most cases, you will obtain a visa from your nearest embassy or consulate. You can find where that is from the U.S. Department of State's website. The exact application process may vary by facility, so before applying, check with your closest facility to find out what is required and whether you should apply in person or mail in your application.

What Can I Expect at My Visa Interview?

Your interviewer will be trying to verify the information in your application. If you have applied for a temporary visa, he or she will also try to confirm that you have ties to your home country that will encourage you to return after your visit.

Here are some questions you might have to answer:

  • Why do you want to visit the United States?
  • Are you visiting anyone in the United States?
  • How long do you intend to stay?
  • Do you have children? Where do they live?
  • Have you visited any other countries?

How Long Does It Take to Get a Visa?

It depends partly on the type of visa you have applied for. You can usually get a tourist visa within a few days. Student and temporary work visas typically take longer because they include stronger background and criminal checks, among other requirements.

Obtaining immigrant visas can take years if you are applying in a popular category.

Are There Any Medical Requirements I Must Complete to Get an Immigrant Visa?

Yes. You must have a medical exam and get certain vaccinations. You should get the required vaccinations before your medical exam and bring proof of vaccination to the exam. The U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs offers more information about visa vaccination requirements.

What Fees Do I Need to Pay to Obtain a Visa?

The fees you pay to get a visa depend on the type of visa you are applying for and what additional forms you need to file. The U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs lists fees for visa services for forms submitted to that office. Depending on the visa you wish to obtain, you may also need to submit forms and fees to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).  Additionally, an immigration attorney can also questions specific to your case.