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politics and government of
the United States
The visa policy of the United States deals with the requirements which a foreign national wishing to enter the United States must meet to obtain a visa, which is a permit to travel to, enter, and remain in the United States. Visitors to the United States must obtain a visa from one of the United States diplomatic missions unless they come from one of the visa-exempt countries or Visa Waiver Program countries. The same rules apply to Puerto Rico, United States Virgin Islands, Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands, while different rules apply to American Samoa. Although the US visa policy applies to Guam and the CNMI, the two territories also have their own visa waiver program.
As of 17 March 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, entry has been suspended for visitors who have been to Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom in 14 days prior to arrival to the United States. The restriction does not apply to permanent residents, immediate family members of US citizens and several special categories.
A foreign national wishing to enter the U.S., must obtain a visa unless they satisfy one of the following conditions:
Mexican citizens may travel to the U.S. without a passport under limited circumstances if holding a Border Crossing Card and seeking to enter the U.S. for less than seventy-two hours while remaining in the "border zone".
While there are about 185 different types of visas,there are two main categories of U.S. visas:
In order to immigrate, one should either have an immigrant visa or have a dual intent visa, which is one that is compatible with making a concurrent application for permanent resident status, or having an intention to apply for permanent residence.
Entering the U.S. on an employment visa may be described as a three-step process in most cases. First, the employer files an application with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services requesting a particular type of category visa for a specific individual. If the employer's application is approved, it only authorizes the individual to apply for a visa; the approved application is not actually a visa. The individual then applies for a visa and is usually interviewed at a U.S. embassy or consulate in the native country. If the embassy or consulate grants the visa, the individual is then allowed to travel to the U.S. At the border crossing, airport, or other point of entry into the U.S., the individual speaks with an officer from U.S. Customs and Border Protection to request admission to the U.S. If approved, the individual may then enter the U.S.
Contrary to a popular misconception, a U.S. visa does not authorize the alien's entry into the United States, nor does it authorize the alien's stay in the U.S. in a particular status. A U.S. visa only serves as a preliminary permission given to the alien to travel to the United States and to seek admission to the United States at a designated port of entry. The final admission to the United States in a particular status and for a particular period of time is made at the port of entry by a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer. For aliens entering the U.S. in a nonimmigrant visa status, these details are recorded by the CBP officer on the alien's Form I-94 (Form I-94W for citizens of the Visa Waiver Program countries entering the U.S. for short visits), which serves as the official document authorizing the alien's stay in the United States in a particular non-immigrant visa status and for a particular period of time.Fifty thousand additional visas (immigrant visas DV-1, DV-2, DV-3) are available each year under the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program (also known as the green card lottery).
Exit visas are not required.
However, the U.S. government has required all foreign and U.S. nationals departing the US by air for Canada, Mexico, Bermuda or countries in the Caribbean other than the French West Indies to hold a valid passport (or certain specific passport-replacing documents) since October 1, 2007. Even though travelers might not require a passport to enter a certain country, they will require a valid passport booklet (booklet only, U.S. Passport Card not accepted) when attempting to depart the U.S. in order to satisfy the U.S. immigration authorities.Exemptions to this requirement to hold a valid passport booklet include:
Four countries and Bermuda have visa exemption access to the United States, including three that are linked with Compacts of Free Association.Citizens of these jurisdictions are generally not required to apply for visas or pre-approval registrations prior to arrival.
Citizens of Canada do not require a visa to visit the United States under most circumstances, and can work under special simplified procedure.They may use a NEXUS Card instead of a passport to enter the country from Canada, or, if arriving by land or sea, an Enhanced Drivers License.
Historically, Canadian citizens have never needed a visa to visit the United States.
Citizens of British Overseas Territories with a connection to Bermuda can enter the United States visa-free under most circumstances if their intended stay is less than six months.They can also enter visa-free in order to study in the United States.
In order to qualify, they must present a Bermudian passport with "Government of Bermuda" printed on the cover; the passport must state the holder's nationality as either "British Overseas Territory Citizen" or "British Dependent Territories Citizen"; and the passport must contain an endorsement stamp of "Holder is registered as a Bermudian", "Holder Possesses Bermudian Status", or "Holder is deemed to possess Bermudian status".
Citizens of the Republic of the Marshall Islands have not required a visa to enter, reside, study, and work indefinitely in the United States since * 21 October 1986.These benefits are granted to citizens from birth or independence, and to naturalized citizens who have resided in the Marshall Islands for at least five years, excluding those who acquired citizenship by investment. Although citizens of the Marshall Islands do not need visas at point of entry to the United States, they may still be denied admission based on general immigration disqualifications such as criminal convictions.
Citizens of the Federated States of Micronesia have not required a visa to enter, reside, study, and work indefinitely in the United States since 3 November 1986.These benefits are granted to citizens from birth or independence, and to naturalized citizens who have resided in the Federated States of Micronesia for at least five years, excluding those who acquired citizenship by investment. Although citizens of the Federated States of Micronesia do not need visas at point of entry to the United States, they may still be denied admission based on general immigration disqualifications such as criminal convictions.
Citizens of the Republic of Palau have not required a visa to enter, reside, study, and work indefinitely in the United States since 1 October 1994.These benefits are granted to citizens from birth or independence, and to naturalized citizens who have resided in Palau for at least five years, excluding those who acquired citizenship by investment. Although citizens of Palau do not need visas at point of entry to the United States, they may still be denied admission based on general immigration disqualifications such as criminal convictions.
Currently, 39 countries and territories have been selected by the US government for inclusion in the Visa Waiver Program and their citizens do not need to acquire a US visa. However, citizens of these countries are required to obtain an electronic authorization (ESTA) for arrivals by air and seain order to visit the United States; note: this also applies to Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands, both of which also have their own visa exemptions, while American Samoa operates an entirely different visa policy.
|Date of visa changes|
Visitors may stay for 90 days in the United States which also includes the time spent in Canada, Mexico, Bermuda, or the islands in the Caribbean if the arrival was through the United States.
The Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) is not a visa. Rather, obtaining a travel authorization from ESTA is a prerequisite to traveling by air or sea to the U.S. under the Visa Waiver Program.ESTA authorization, once obtained, is valid for two years unless during that time the person obtains a new passport or his/her answers to any of the eligibility questions change. ESTA is not needed when entering the U.S. by land or by local ferries (from Canada). On the other hand, VWP does not apply at all if a person is arriving by air or sea on an unapproved carrier (e.g. a private ship or plane). Such persons need a standard visa. As of December 2018, the ESTA is no longer approved in real-time to qualifying passengers and passengers are required to apply no later than 72 hours before departure.
The United States Department of Homeland Security extended the scope of the Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act. As of August 2019 [update] , visa waivers do not apply where a person has previously traveled to Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Sudan, Syria or Yemen on or after March 1, 2011 or for those who remain nationals of Iran, Iraq, North Korea, Sudan and Syria in addition to the nationality that would otherwise entitle them to a visa waiver. Instead, they are now required to go through the process to obtain a visa. Certain categories such as diplomats, military, journalists, humanitarian workers or legitimate businessmen may have their visa requirement waived by the Secretary of Homeland Security.
Citizens of the following country can travel without obtaining a visa for the United States only under certain conditions:
British Overseas Territories citizens (BOTCs) by virtue of their connection to one of the following territories may elect to travel with their British citizen passports with valid ESTA, or can alternatively use their BOTC passports to enter the U.S. in certain circumstances.
Although the visa policy of the U.S. also applies to the U.S. territories of Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands in general, both territories have additional visa waiver programs for certain nationalities. The Guam–CNMI Visa Waiver Program, first enacted in October 1988 and periodically amended, permits nationals from 12 countries in Asia, Europe and Oceania to enter Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands as tourists for up to 45 days without the need of obtaining a U.S. visa or an ESTA.A parole policy also allows nationals of China visa-free access to the Northern Mariana Islands for up to 14 days.
1 - Up to 14 days, for the Northern Mariana Islands only, under a separate parole policy.
2 - Must present a valid Hong Kong Permanent Identity Card on arrival.
3 - For holders of Taiwanese passports with a National ID number. Must present a valid Taiwanese national identity card on arrival. Must travel on a nonstop flight from Taiwan.
4 - For holders of British Citizen and British National (Overseas) passports only. British Nationals (Overseas) must present a valid Hong Kong permanent identity card upon arrival in order to be eligible for the waiver.
|Date of visa changes|
Travelers with B-1/B-2 visa or ESTA are admitted to the territories in accordance with the terms of ESTA or visa.
Travelers utilizing the program or the parole are required to complete an I-736 form (online as of February 2018), hold a machine-readable passport and nonrefundable return ticket, and are not permitted to travel stateside. Because of special visa categories for the Northern Mariana Islands' foreign workers, traveling between Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands still requires a full immigration inspection, and all visitors departing Guam or Northern Mariana Islands are inspected regardless of final destination.
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U.S. visa policy does not apply to the territory of American Samoa, as it has its own entry requirements and maintains control of its own borders. Hence, neither a U.S. visa nor an ESTA can be used to enter American Samoa. If required, an entry permit or electronic authorization must be obtained from the Department of Legal Affairs of American Samoa.
U.S. nationals may remain indefinitely in American Samoa.To enter, they must present a U.S. passport, or apply online for an electronic authorization providing a copy of their birth certificate, identification card, itinerary and a fee of US$50.
Nationals of Canada, Israel, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Palau and countries in the U.S. Visa Waiver Programmay visit for up to 30 days without an entry permit. However, if arriving by air, they must apply online for an electronic authorization called "OK to board" or "OK board", at least 48 hours before travel, providing a biometric passport and itinerary. They must also pay a fee of US$20, before travel or on arrival.
Nationals of other countries need an entry permit. To apply, they must have a local sponsor, who must appear in person at the Immigration Office of the Department of Legal Affairs and provide either a deed of private land or signatures of the sponsor's sa'o (head chief) and pulenu'u (village mayor). Travelers must also provide a copy of their passport and itinerary, clearances from the District Court of American Samoa and Lyndon B. Johnson Tropical Medical Center, consent for a background check by the Department of Homeland Security of American Samoa, police and health clearances from the country of origin, and a fee of US$40 (no fee for children under 5 years of age). The application for an entry permit must be made at least 30 days before travel, and the permit is valid for a stay of up to 30 days.Business travelers may apply for a multiple-entry permit, for a fee of US$50 per month, up to one year.
Nationals of Samoa may apply for group permits for a stay of up to 7 days (variable fee), or individual permits for a stay of up to 14 days (fee of US$10) or 30 days (fee of US$40, except for children under 5 years of age). Their application process requires fewer documents.
Transit travelers of any nationality may apply for an electronic authorization free of charge, allowing a stay of up to 24 hours.
Residents of the Chukotka Autonomous Okrug in Russia who are members of the indigenous population do not require a visa to visit Alaska if they have relatives (blood relatives, members of the same tribe, native people who have similar language and cultural heritage) in Alaska. Entry points are in Gambell and Nome.
Individuals must be invited by a relative in Alaska, must notify local authorities at least ten days before traveling to Alaska, and must leave Alaska within 90 days.
The agreement establishing this policy was signed by Russia (then the Soviet Union) and the United States on September 23, 1989. The United States made it effective as of July 17, 2015.
Members of certain indigenous peoples born in Canada may enter and remain in the United States indefinitely "for the purpose of employment, study, retirement, investing, and/or immigration" or any other reason by virtue of the Jay Treaty of 1794, as codified in Section 289 of the Immigration and Naturalization Act.
In order to qualify, an individual must possess "at least 50 per centum blood of the American Indian Race".Tribal membership alone does not qualify an individual. The individual bears the burden of proof in establishing eligibility, typically by way of presenting identification based on reliable tribal records, birth certificates, and other documents establishing the percentage of Indian blood. A Canadian Certificate of Indian Status is insufficient proof because it does not indicate the percentage of Indian blood.
A qualifying American Indian's spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 do not have the same rights unless they qualify in their own right.Because a qualifying American Indian residing in the United States is considered to be lawfully admitted for permanent residence in the United States, a qualifying American Indian residing in the United States may file a petition for a derivative for a spouse and dependent children, subject to statutory numerical limitations and a seven-year backlog of applications.
|Country or territory|| States, District of Columbia |
and Puerto Rico
|Marshall Islands||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||OK board|
|New Zealand||Yes||ESTA||ESTA||Yes||Yes||Yes||OK board|
|South Korea||Yes||ESTA||ESTA||Yes||Yes||Yes||OK board|
|United Kingdom||Yes||ESTA||ESTA||Yes||Yes||Yes||OK board|
|Czech Republic||Yes||ESTA||ESTA||ESTA||ESTA||Yes||OK board|
|San Marino||Yes||ESTA||ESTA||ESTA||ESTA||Yes||OK board|
|British Virgin Islands||No||police certificate||Yes||No||No||No||No|
|Cayman Islands||No||police certificate||No||No||No||No||No|
|Turks and Caicos Islands||No||police certificate||No||No||No||No||No|
|Papua New Guinea||No||No||No||Yes||Yes||No||No|
Currently there are several restrictions in place regarding visa issuance as per Executive Order 13780, titled Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States. It was initially adopted on March 6, 2017, and revised by Presidential Proclamation 9645 on September 24, 2017 and Presidential Proclamation 9723 on April 10, 2018 and Presidential Proclamation on January 31, 2020.However court rulings prohibited some of its key provisions from being enforced. The Supreme Court of the United States upheld the most recent version of the travel ban on June 26, 2018. It superseded the previous Executive Order 13769.
|2(a)(ii)||Chad||Ban lifted on April 10, 2018|
and their immediate family members as non-immigrants on:
The order does not apply to international travelers from the named countries who are:
|Citation||Individual Exceptions listed in Executive Order 13780|
|3(a)(i)||Any foreign national who is inside the United States on the effective date of this order.|
|3(a)(ii)||Any foreign national who had a valid visa at 5:00 p.m., eastern standard time on January 27, 2017.|
|3(a)(iii)||Any foreign national who had a valid visa on the effective date of this order.|
|3(b)(i)||Any lawful permanent resident of the United States.|
|3(b)(ii)||Any foreign national who is admitted to or paroled into the United States on or after the effective date of this order.|
|3(b)(iii)||Any foreign national who has a document other than a visa, valid on the effective date of this order or issued on any date thereafter, that permits him or her to travel to the United States and seek entry or admission, such as an advance parole document.|
|3(b)(iv)||Any dual national of a country designated under section 2 of this order when the individual is traveling on a passport issued by a non-designated country.|
|3(b)(v)||Any foreign national traveling on a diplomatic or diplomatic-type visa, North Atlantic Treaty Organization visa, C-2 visa for travel to the United Nations, or G-1, G-2, G-3, or G-4 visa.|
|3(b)(vi)||Any foreign national who has been granted asylum.|
|3(b)(vi)||Any refugee who has already been admitted to the United States.|
|3(b)(vi)||Any individual who has been granted withholding of removal, advance parole, or protection under the Convention Against Torture.|
The order allows exceptions to the entry ban to be reviewed on a case-by-case basis for the DHS and the Department of State to issue waivers or approval of a visa for travelers from the countries of concern stated in the order. The order allows case-by-case waivers if:
|Citation||Case-by-Case Exceptions listed in Executive Order 13780|
|3(c)(i)||The foreign national has previously been admitted to the United States for a continuous period of work, study, or other long-term activity, is outside the United States on the effective date of this order, seeks to reenter the United States to resume that activity, and the denial of reentry during the suspension period would impair that activity.|
|3(c)(ii)||The foreign national has previously established significant contacts with the United States but is outside the United States on the effective date of this order for work, study, or other lawful activity.|
|3(c)(iii)||The foreign national seeks to enter the United States for significant business or professional obligations and the denial of entry during the suspension period would impair those obligations.|
|3(c)(iv)||The foreign national seeks to enter the United States to visit or reside with a close family member (e.g., a spouse, child, or parent) who is a United States citizen, lawful permanent resident, or alien lawfully admitted on a valid nonimmigrant visa, and the denial of entry during the suspension period would cause undue hardship.|
|3(c)(v)||The foreign national is an infant, a young child or adoptee, an individual needing urgent medical care, or someone whose entry is otherwise justified by the special circumstances of the case.|
|3(c)(vi)||The foreign national has been employed by, or on behalf of, the United States Government (or is an eligible dependent of such an employee) and the employee can document that he or she has provided faithful and valuable service to the United States Government.|
|3(c)(vii)||The foreign national is traveling for purposes related to an international organization designated under the International Organizations Immunities Act (IOIA), 22 U.S.C. § 288, traveling for purposes of conducting meetings or business with the United States Government, or traveling to conduct business on behalf of an international organization not designated under the IOIA.|
|3(c)(viii)||The foreign national is a landed immigrant of Canada who applies for a visa at a location within Canada.|
|3(c)(ix)||The foreign national is traveling as a United States Government-sponsored exchange visitor.|
Effective September 13, 2017, the Department of Homeland Security announced that the State Department would stop issuing certain visas at its consular offices in the following countries due to the lack of cooperation on removal matters:
Effective July 9, 2018, similar sanctions were introduced for the following categories:
Effective January 24, 2020, B visas will not be issued to individuals who intend to visit the United States for the purpose of giving birth.It is permissible for a B-visa applicant to intend to visit the United States in order to obtain other medical treatment as long as the applicant demonstrates their arrangements for medical treatment and sufficiently establishes their ability to pay for the medical treatment.
Effective January 31, 2019 similar sanctions were introduced regarding issuance of all non-immigrant visas to domestic employees (A-3 and G-5) of Ghanaian diplomats posted in the United States and the validity period and number of entries on new tourist and business visas for all Ghanaian executive and legislative branch employees, their spouses, and their children under 21 to one-month, single-entry visas.These restrictions ended on January 17, 2020.
Visits to the United States Minor Outlying Islands – Baker Island,Howland Island, Jarvis Island, Johnston Atoll, Kingman Reef, Midway Atoll, Palmyra Atoll, Wake Island and Navassa Island – are severely restricted. Most of the islands are closed off, and prospective visitors require special permits, usually from the US Army.
Applicants for visitor visas must show that they qualify under provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act. The presumption in the law is that every nonimmigrant visa applicant (except certain employment-related applicants, who are exempt) is an intending immigrant unless otherwise proven. Therefore, applicants for most nonimmigrant visas must overcome this presumption by demonstrating that:
All visit, business, transit, student, and exchange visitor visa applicants must pay a US$160 application fee (up from $140 as of April 2012) to a US Consulate in order to be interviewed by a Consular Officer who will determine if the applicant is qualified to receive a visa to travel to the U.S (additionally, the officer may also ask the United States Department of State for a Security Advisory Opinion, which can take several weeks to resolve). The application fee is increased to $190 for most work visas (up from $150 as of April 2012) and can be even higher for certain categories. If the applicant is rejected, the application fee is not refunded. Amongst the items included in the qualification decision are financial independence, adequate employment, material assets and a lack of a criminal record in the applicant's native country.
|Over 400 thousand||Over 100 thousand||Over 50 thousand||Over 25 thousand||Over 10 thousand||Over 5 thousand||Under 5 thousand|
In fiscal 2017 most B-1,2 visas were issued to the nationals of the following countries (listed over 40,000 visas):
|Nationality||Issued B-1,2 visas|
In fiscal 2014 the most common reasons to refuse a visa were cited as "failure to establish entitlement to nonimmigrant status", "incompatible application" (most overcome), "unlawful presence", "misrepresentation", "criminal convictions", "smugglers" and "controlled substance violators". Smaller number of applications were rejected for "physical or mental disorder", "prostitution", "espionage", "terrorist activities", "falsely claiming citizenship" and other grounds for refusal including "presidential proclamation", "money laundering", "communicable disease" and "commission of acts of torture or extrajudicial killings".
|Over 2 million||Over 1 million||Over 500 thousand||Over 250 thousand||Over 100 thousand||Over 15 thousand||Under 15 thousand|
The highest number of non-immigrant admissions for tourists and for business purposes into the United States in fiscal year 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017 was from the following countries (listed over 700,000 admissions):
|Country||FY 2017||FY2016||FY2015||FY 2014|
|Statistics of American Samoa|
|Statistics of Guam|
|Northern Mariana Islands||20,563||19,325||17,579||14,334||14,761|
|Statistics of Northern Mariana Islands|
A visas are issued to representatives of a foreign government traveling to the United States to engage in official activities for that government. A visas are granted to foreign government ambassadors, ministers, diplomats, as well as other foreign government officials or employees traveling on official business (A-1 visa). Certain foreign officials require an A visa regardless of the purpose of their trip. The A visa is also granted to immediate family members of such foreign government officials, defined as "the principal applicant's spouse and unmarried sons and daughters of any age who are not members of some other household and who will reside regularly in the household of the principal alien" (A-2 Visa) and which "may also include close relatives of the principal alien or spouse who are related by blood, marriage, or adoption who are not members of some other household; who will reside regularly in the household of the principal alien; and who are recognized as dependents by the sending government (A-3 Visa).
The most common non-immigrant visa is the multiple-purpose B-1/B-2 visa, also known as the "visa for temporary visitors for business or pleasure." Visa applicants sometimes receive either a B-1 (temporary visitor for business) or a B-2 (temporary visitor for pleasure) visa, if their reason for travel is specific enough that the consular officer does not feel they qualify for combined B-1/B-2 status.Holders may also attend short non-credit courses. Mexican citizens are eligible for Border Crossing Cards.
From November 29, 2016, all holders of Chinese passports who also hold 10-year B visas are required to enroll in the Electronic Visa Update System (EVUS) before traveling to the United States. This requirement may be extended to other nationalities in the future.
|10 years||5 years||2–4 years||1 year||3–6 months|
|Country||Issuance fee (USD)||Entries||Validity|
|Antigua and Barbuda||0||multiple||10 years|
|Bosnia and Herzegovina||0||multiple||10 years|
|Burkina Faso||0||multiple||5 years|
|Cape Verde||0||multiple||5 years|
|Central African Republic||40||multiple||1 year|
|Costa Rica||0||multiple||10 years|
|Czech Republic||0||multiple||10 years|
|Democratic Republic of the Congo||150||multiple||1 month|
|Dominican Republic||0||multiple||10 years|
|East Timor||0||2||3 months|
|El Salvador||0||multiple||10 years|
|Equatorial Guinea||0||multiple||5 years|
|Hong Kong||0||multiple||10 years|
|Ivory Coast||0||multiple||1 year|
|Marshall Islands||0||1||3 months|
|New Zealand||0||multiple||10 years|
|North Korea||0||2||3 months|
|North Macedonia||0||multiple||10 years|
|Papua New Guinea||0||1||1 month|
|Saint Kitts and Nevis||0||multiple||10 years|
|Saint Lucia||0||multiple||10 years|
|Saint Vincent and the Grenadines||0||multiple||10 years|
|San Marino||0||multiple||5 years|
|São Tomé and Príncipe||0||multiple||6 months|
|Saudi Arabia||0||multiple||5 years|
|Sierra Leone||0||multiple||3 years|
|Solomon Islands||0||multiple||5 years|
|South Africa||0||multiple||10 years|
|South Korea||0||multiple||10 years|
|South Sudan||0||2||3 months|
|Sri Lanka||0||multiple||5 years|
|Trinidad and Tobago||0||multiple||10 years|
|United Arab Emirates||0||multiple||10 years|
|United Kingdom||0||multiple||10 years|
|Vatican City||0||multiple||5 years|
The Adjusted Refusal Rate is based on the refusal rate of B visa applications. B visas are adjudicated based on applicant interviews; the interviews generally last between 60 and 90 seconds.Due to time constraints, adjudicators profile applicants. Certain demographics, such as young adults who are single and unemployed, almost never receive visas, unless they articulate a compelling reason. Adjudicators are evaluated on how fast they carry out interviews, not the quality of adjudication decisions. The validity of B visa decisions is not evaluated.
To qualify for the Visa Waiver Program, a country must have had a nonimmigrant visa refusal rate of less than 3% for the previous year or an average of no more than 2% over the past two fiscal years with neither year going above 2.5%.In addition, the country must provide visa-free access to United States citizens and has to be either an independent country or a dependency of a VWP country (which has precluded Hong Kong and Macau from participating in the program). (Until April 4, 2016, Argentina charged $160 to U.S. citizens to enter.)
The Adjusted Visa Refusal Rates for B visas were as follows:
|Country/Region||Fiscal Year 2008||Fiscal Year 2014||Fiscal Year 2015||Fiscal Year 2016||Fiscal Year 2017||Fiscal Year 2018||Fiscal Year 2019|
|Antigua and Barbuda||21.70%||20.80%||20.17%||22.11%||20.50%||19.07%||15.25%|
|Central African Republic||39.60%||46.60%||32.43%||35.12%||44.24%||36.03%||37.45%|
|Democratic Republic of the Congo||36.20%||39.10%||45.62%||45.63%||49.94%||50.56%||53.80%|
|Non-nationality based issuances||n/a||n/a||n/a||28.92%||35.61%||40.27%||43.16%|
|Papua New Guinea||3.40%||7.40%||5.14%||10.56%||9.34%||6.84%||1.74%|
|Saint Kitts and Nevis||25.00%||27.50%||26.60%||28.31%||26.66%||24.98%||21.87%|
|Saint Vincent and the Grenadines||26.40%||24.10%||27.15%||27.46%||20.38%||19.17%||14.55%|
|São Tomé and Príncipe||28.60%||10.70%||5.71%||24.14%||14.81%||26.09%||34.78%|
|Trinidad and Tobago||23.80%||21.20%||25.16%||22.70%||22.46%||19.28%||13.05%|
|United Arab Emirates||10.40%||4.80%||7.10%||4.02%||5.80%||3.75%||5.56%|
A number of visitors overstay the maximum period of allowed stay on their B-1/B-2 status after entered the U.S. on their B-1/B-2 visas. The Department of Homeland Security publishes annual reports that list the number of violations by passengers who arrive via air and sea. The table below excludes statistics on persons who left the United States later than their allowed stay or legalized their status and shows only suspected overstays who remained in the country.
The top 20 nationalities by the number of suspected in-country B-1/B-2 overstays in 2016 and 2017 were:
|Total (all nationalities)||280,559||1.91%||263,470||1.90%|
The top 10 nationalities by in-country B-1/B-2 visa overstay rate are:
US tourist visas that are valid for further travel are accepted as substitute visas for national visas in the following territories:
The C-1 visa is a transit visa issued to individuals who are traveling in "immediate and continuous transit through the United States en-route to another country". The only reason to enter the United States must be for transit purposes. A subtype C-2 visa is issued to diplomats transiting to and from the Headquarters of the United Nations and is limited to the vicinity of New York City. A subtype C-3 visa is issued to diplomats and their dependents transiting to and from their posted country.
D visa is issued to crew members of sea-vessels and international airlines in the United States. This includes commercial airline pilots and flight attendants, captain, engineer, or deckhand of a sea vessel, service staff on a cruise ship and trainees on board a training vessel. Usually a combination of a C-1 visa and D visa is required.
Treaty Trader (E-1 visa) and Treaty Investor (E-2 visa) visas are issued to citizens of countries that have signed treaties of commerce and navigation with the United States.