Many people have questions about the process of living and working in the United States as a foreign citizen. A lot of these questions are about the US visa. What exactly is a US visa? Who needs a visa and how can you get one? While the process of US immigration is complex and multifaceted, here are a few simple answers to the question, “what is a visa”?
Anyone who lives in a foreign country and is not a citizen of the United States must obtain a US visa in order to visit, live or work in the United States. A visa is an official document. It is added to the traveler’s passport – your passport is the document issued to you by the country where you have citizenship. It allows you to travel away from your own country and to return. Who needs a visa? Not every foreign citizen needs a visa – there are exceptions for people who are eligible to travel under the visa-free scheme. But most non-US citizens need a visa to gain entry to the US.
When you have a visa in your passport you are eligible to travel to the United States and to arrive at a registered port, airport or land border crossing. Having a visa does not automatically allow you entry to the US. A visa allows you to ask permission from border officials to enter the country. The officials will look at the visa and determine if you are eligible for entry based on certain criteria.
There are two main types of US visa. The first is a non-immigrant visa. This visa is designed for people who are traveling to the United States on a temporary basis and are not planning to reside in the country. An immigrant visa is a visa for people who are planning to live permanently in the United States.