Before you book your flight to a foreign destination you need to get a US travel visa. A tourist visa will allow you to enter a country legally and will be displayed on your passport.
Who needs a visa: Americans who are traveling to countries outside the United States will most likely need a Travel Visa. Diplomats, NATO soldiers and embassy employees are generally exempt from visa requirements. If you are not sure if you need a visa, you can contact your destination country by web site or the local embassy.
Border Cards: Mexico allows Americans to travel a short distance inside their country without a visa. If an American travels past this area they are required to purchase a Mexican tourist card. Canada also has exemptions for travel into their country by Americans. Any visitor to the United States who is a resident of a country other than Mexico or Canada must have a tourist visa before they will be permitted into the country. Additionally, Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative documents must be in hand by all citizens of Canada, Mexico and the United States before they can re-enter their country.
Where to apply: Applications for visa's can be located at the country of interest's embassy or consulate office. Some consulate offices now provide online visa applications. If you are planning to book your vacation through a travel agent many offer visa assistance to ensure that you will not face any delays. If you're planning to visit Europe, you might want to investigate applying for a Schengen Visa. This type of visa will allows you to cross into neighboring countries without having a visa for each individual country. There are some European countries that do not participate. Be sure to check if all the countries you plan to visit are included with this type of visa.
When to apply: Many countries, the United States included, suggest that you apply for your visa at least 90 days before departure. Occasionally, visa applications are approved quicker but it is best to plan ahead. Knowing your departure date, your itinerary and the length of your visit will help speed up the process.
What is involved: When you apply for a visa, you will be asked to fill out an application. You may be asked to arrive in person for an interview with a consulate employee. Background checks, financial disclosures and your personal history are just some of the information that will be needed to process your application. Occasionally letters from friends or family who reside in that country will be needed. Individuals who have been convicted of certain crimes are not granted visas.
Application Costs: Application fees are generally $131.00 US dollars. When you arrive in the country of your destination, a reciprocity fee of the same amount will be charged. Remember to keep this in mind when you travel. Border crossing cards, a form of visa for Mexican travelers, cost the same and are valid for ten years. A tourist card for Mexico costs about $20.00 American dollars.
Visitors Waiver Program: There are over 35 countries in the world that are now participants in the Visitors Waiver Program. This program requires an enhanced passport. With an enhanced passport, visitors to these countries no longer require a travel visa and may travel freely within that country for up to 90 days. If the visitor wishes to remain in that country longer they can apply for a tourist, student or business visa.
Early applications for your US travel visa will save time, energy and prevent delays.
Visit often to learn more information from our updated US Travel Visa.