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US Visa Requirements

Visa for travel to America

Information on US Visa requirements: you will need a tourist VISA to enter the United States for your Route 66 road trip. Here we outline how to obtain an American Visa.
 

Tourist Visa

US Visa

All visitors to the United States of America require a Visa to enter the country. These visas are issued by the US State Department.

The best source for complete and accurate information regarding the visa requirements are United States embassy or consulate in your home country.

The web pages of the US State Department also provide reliable information. Bear in mind that rules are continuously evolving and are also quite complex. So do a full research to find out exactly what you will need to secure a visa for your road trip along Route 66.

USA Visas

There are many kinds of visas. The one that you will need for your trip is a "Tourist Visa", which is, by the way, the easiest to obtain.

A tourist visa will allow you to visit the United States for up to three (3) months. You cannot work in the US with this type of visa.

In the interest of promoting friendship, tourism and cooperation, the US government has implemented a Visa Waiver Program (VWP) that allows visitors from a certain group of countries to visit the US without a visa. The VWP is detailed below together with a list of participating countries.

How to get a visitor visa

You will have to apply for a visa at the US embassy or consulate in your home country. The process will involve paying a visa fee and filling in a form. Your photograph will be taken and so will your finger prints. You will also be interviewed by an examining officer at the US embassy.

You may have to provide evidence that you have strong ties with your home country, that your permanent residence and employment are located there. And that you will return home within 90 days of arrival in the US. Proof of employment, business ownership, family ties will suffice as proof.

The Online Form

You will have to complete an online form (DS-160), truthfully. Have your previous passports handy, their numbers will be required as well as your previous visits to the U.S.

DS-160 form online screen shot
Screenshot of DS-160 online form, by A. Whittall

Useful links: (you will leave www.TheRoute-66.com)

Visa Waiver Program

travel to the US

The Visa Waiver Program (VWP) allows citizens of participating countries (see list below) to travel to the United States without a visa for stays of up to 90 days. To do so they must meet all the following requirements. The travelers must also have a valid Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) approval prior to travelling.

If you are eligible for VWP, you may also apply for a Visitor (B) visa and have it placed in your passport.

Even non-ticketed infants are required to have an approved travel authorization (ESTA).

Requirements for using the Visa Waiver Program (VWP)

All these requirements must be met:

  • The "Travel Purpose" Must be that Permitted on a Visitor (B) Visa:
    Business: Consult with business associates, attend a scientific, educational, professional, or business convention or conference, attend short-term training (you may not be paid by any source in the United States with the exception of expenses incidental to your stay), negotiate a contract.
    Tourism: Tourism, vacation (holiday), visit with friends or relatives, medical treatment, participation in social events hosted by fraternal, social, or service organizations, participation by amateurs in musical, sports, or similar events or contests, if not being paid for participating, enrollment in a short recreational course of study, not for credit toward a degree (for example, a two-day cooking class while on vacation)
  • You cannot travel under a VWP for the following purposes: study, for credit employment, work as foreign press, radio, film, journalists, or other information media, permanent residence in the United States
  • You must be a Citizen or National of a VWP Designated Country: See list of participating countries
  • Each Traveler Must have authorization under ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization) prior to boarding a U.S. bound air or sea carrier. ESTA is the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Customs and Border Protection's (CBP) automated web-based system to determine eligibility to travel without a visa to the United States for tourism or business. Visit the ESTA webpage for full details, to apply for ESTA, and pay the fee.
  • Travel Must be on an Approved Carrier and you must also have a round trip ticket indicating return passage to your country.
  • Previous Compliance and No Prior Visa Ineligibilities: you must have complied with the conditions of your previous admissions to the USA under VWP or another status and not been previously found ineligible for a U.S. visa.
    Bear in mind that by requesting admission under the VWP you are generally waiving your right to review or appeal a CBP officer's decision as to their application for admission at the port of entry.
  • Have the Correct Type of Passport: with a validity of at least 6 months after your planned departure from the United States (unless exempted by country-specific agreements). For families, each member of your family, including infants and children, must have their own passport.
    Passports must be machine readable and have a chip: Data related to an individual's identity is incorporated in an integrated electronic chip into the passport, referred to as an e-Passport. (If it is an e-Passport it will have the two parallel golden bands with a circle in the center of them, at the bottom of the passport's cover.
Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA)

How long is my travel authorization valid? Unless revoked, travel authorizations are valid for two years from the date of authorization, or until your passport expires, whichever comes first. The Authorization Approved screen displays your travel authorization expiration date.

When do I need to apply for a travel authorization? Applications may be submitted at any time prior to travel to the United States. The Department of Homeland Security recommends that travel authorization applications be submitted at least 72 hours prior to travel. Unless revoked, travel authorizations are valid for two years from the date of authorization, or until your passport expires, whichever comes first.

See all the FAQ on ESTA at the CBP DHS website.

Visit the ESTA Website.

ESTA Application Form.

 

ESTA process screen shot
Process flow of your ESTA, by A. Whittall

Countries included in the VWP

Andorra
Australia
Austria
Belgium
Brunei
Chile
Czech Republic
Denmark
Estonia
Finland
France
Germany
Greece
Hungary
Iceland
Ireland
Italy
Japan
Latvia

Liechtenstein
Lithuania
Luxembourg
Malta
Monaco
Netherlands
New Zealand
Norway
Portugal
San Marino
Singapore
Slovakia
Slovenia
South Korea
Spain
Sweden
Switzerland
Taiwan
United Kingdom

Sources

Image by katjung under its CC BY-SA 2.0 License

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Image by Vítězslav Válka adapted under its CC BY-SA 3.0 CZ License.