How to Get a Tourist Visa for the USA

How to Get a Tourist Visa for the USA
To regulate visitors to the United States, the U.S. requires tourists to obtain a visa before allowing them to enter the country. This type of visa is called a B-2 non-immigrant visa, which the Department of State prescribes as for visitors coming to the United States "for pleasure, tourism or medical treatment." The Bureau of Consular Affairs, which manages distribution of visas, provides straightforward instructions for the application process.


Difficulty: Moderate

Things You’ll Need:
  • Form DS-156 Nonimmigrant Visa Application
  • Supplemental Nonimmigrant Visa Application
  • Valid passport
  • 2-inch by 2-inch recent photograph of applicant
Step 1
Complete and submit the required paperwork and documentation to the United States Embassy or United States Consulate that administers U.S affairs in your homeland. To find the correct embassy or consulate, visit the U.S. Department of State's website. For a B-2 visa, the required paperwork includes: a completed and signed Form DS-156 Nonimmigrant Visa Application, a Form DS-157 Supplemental Nonimmigrant Visa Application (required for all males between the ages of 16 and 45, as well as applicants over age 16 from state sponsors of terrorism), a valid passport that permits travel within the U.S. for at least six months past the date you plan to finish your stay, and a 2-inch by 2-inch photograph. All of these forms are available online.
Step 2
Submit the required visa fees along with your application. These fees include the Nonimmigrant visa application processing fee--for current fee amounts, see the U.S. Department of State's website--and the visa issuance fee. Be sure to keep your receipt, as you will need to bring it with you to your visa interview as evidence that you have paid your processing fee.
Step 3
Schedule an appointment to complete an interview at your embassy or consular section. This interview is mandatory for any applicant aged 14 to 79, and can be requested for individuals under 14 or over 80 years of age. This interview will include a digital fingerprint scan.
Step 4
Complete your visa interview, and be sure to bring the required documentation to prove that you can be classified as a U.S. visitor. Documentation includes evidence of your reason for visiting the United States, evidence that you plan to leave the United States and evidence that you have enough money to fund your trip. If you do not have enough money to fund your visit, you must submit "convincing evidence that an interested person" will support you during your stay. The paperwork required is determined by individual embassies and consulates, so visit the appropriate website to ensure that you have all necessary materials.
Step 5
You will receive a visa if your application is approved after your interview. This process can take a few days, and your passport will be held so that your visa can be printed into it.

Tips & Warnings

The U.S. Department of State emphasizes that visa applications are becoming increasingly scrutinized, which means the application process is taking longer than it has in the past. Be sure to apply for your visa well in advance of your intended departure date.

Article Written By Tom Ryan

Tom Ryan is a freelance writer, editor and English tutor. He graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a degree in English writing, and has also worked as an arts and entertainment reporter with "The Pitt News" and a public relations and advertising copywriter with the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh.

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