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U.S. Visa Policy
The U.S. Is a free and open society. We welcome citizens from around the world who genuinely want to visit, study, and do business here. We are dedicated to protecting their safety and keeping our doors open to them. Changes in visa procedures reflect our concern for ensuring the safety of U.S. Residents and visitors alike, not to make it more difficult for legitimate travelers to enter the United States.
Following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, we made some changes in our laws governing visitor entry and exit. We now require additional application forms and security clearances. Visa applications take longer to process. At first, many applicants experienced hardship when applications got backlogged and delays became indefinite. Fortunately, we have improved our visa clearance procedures. Better interagency cooperation and automated procedures have speeded up the clearance process.
Our goal is to make the visa process not only thorough, but also respectful and efficient. There are some new procedures that you will need to become familiar with. We want to educate and inform you about this process.
Arriving in the U.S.
Persons traveling without a visa on the Visa Waiver Program, will be enrolled in the U.S. Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology (US-VISIT) program at all airports and seaports, upon arrival in the U.S.
A visa allows you to travel from your country to a port of entry in the United States. Most often that port of entry will be the airport where you land. On the airplane, you will be asked to complete a short arrival/departure form.
When you deplane, follow signs for non-citizen entry. At that location, a Department of Homeland Security official will interview you and verify all of your paperwork. See requirements for Entry into the U.S. Under the US-VISIT Program of the Department of Homeland Security, for most persons arriving in the U.S., there will be a fingerscan of the two index fingers and a photo will be taken. Once admitted, you will receive an immigration stamp and proceed to baggage claim and customs. For information about arriving in the U.S., including arriving by land or sea, see US-VISIT.
Upon arrival in the U.S., certain foreign citizens
are required to register under Special Registration,
which is the National Security Entry Exit Registration
System (NSEERS) program. Registration under NSEERS
is a distinct process from US-VISIT. Select Special
Registration to learn more.