Checklist to Prepare Your Trip to the U.S.

Checklist to Prepare Your Trip to the U.S.

Before traveling to the United States, there are a number of steps that all foreign citizens should take to ensure a smooth trip and guarantee entry into the country. As the majority of nationalities require a visa in order to stay in the U.S., it is first necessary to check if you need to apply for a visa or travel authorization to enter the United States. Citizens of China are required to obtain an EVUS travel authorization which grants permission to board an aircraft bound for the United States.

However, before submitting an EVUS enrollment, Chinese citizens are first required to obtain a 10-year United States B1/B2 tourist visa, which involves applying in person from a U.S. embassy or consulate. Read on to learn about the steps you should take to ensure you can successfully enter the United States.

Decide on the required U.S. visa type

All Chinese citizens require a visa in order to stay in the United States, as well as an EVUS (Electronic Visa Update System) travel authorization, which grants permission to travel to the United States.

The type of U.S. visa normally granted to Chinese citizens is a tourist visa, which can either be a B1 (for business purposes), B2 (for purposes of tourism or medical treatment), or a combination B1/B2 visa (for both business and tourism purposes).

The U.S. tourist visa for Chinese citizens can be granted with a period of validity between one and ten years, depending on the needs of the traveler and the decision of the U.S. authorities. It can be used multiple times during its validity, as long as the total number of days spent in the U.S. does not exceed 180 days within a period of a year.

Although the standard length for each stay with the B1/B2 visa is 6 months, it is possible to extend the stay to up to a year if the traveler is originally issued a visa with a six-month maximum duration.

As a Chinese citizen, it is necessary to first obtain your 10 year B1/B2 tourist visa from an embassy or consulate and later get your EVUS authorization.

Apply for a visa from a U.S. embassy or consulate

Travelers are advised to start planning their trip and initiate the visa application process far in advance of the intended date of arrival in the United States, as it can take up to 6 months.

In order to obtain a B1/B2 tourist visa, it is first necessary to complete and submit a DS-160 nonimmigrant visa application online, and upload a digital image of the applicant.

It is then necessary to make an appointment at your nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. Be aware that U.S. Embassies are closed on both U.S. holidays and local holidays in the country in which they are based.

When attending a visa interview at an embassy or consulate, there will be several steps, including the collection of documents, the taking of biometric details such as fingerprints, and the interview itself.

Applicants are recommended to bring some of the following supporting documents to prove ties to their home country and convince the interviewer they are not at risk of overstaying their visa:

  • Certificate of employment
  • Payslips
  • Bank account details
  • Property titles

During the interview process, applicants should keep answers direct and to-the-point and answer as truthfully and clearly as possible. It is important to tell the interviewing consul if you don’t understand a question, want it to be rephrased in a different way, or need an interpreter.

The consul will normally inform you of their decision at the end of the interview. If they choose not to approve your visa, you will be issued a letter explaining why, and whether any further supporting documentation may be needed in order for the visa to be approved. If the visa has been approved, the interviewing consul will help you arrange the delivery of the visa.

How to apply online for your trip to the USA

Even though a Chinese citizen holds a valid U.S. visa, this is not a guarantee of entry into the United States. Chinese holders of a valid 10-year B1/B2 visa are also obliged to obtain an EVUS authorization in order to travel to the U.S. Currently, Chinese citizens are the only nationality required to apply for EVUS authorization, although the number of EVUS countries is expected to be expanded in the future.

In order to submit an EVUS form, it is necessary to have

  • A Chinese passport valid for at least 6 months from the intended date of arrival in the United States. As the passport must be a biometric passport, applicants who don’t have an e-passport are required to request one from their government before applying for the EVUS.
  • A valid 10-year B1/B2 U.S. visa
  • A current email address
  • A credit or debit card to pay the EVUS registration fee.

Applicants are required to complete the EVUS application with personal and passport information and answer some answers related to security and health matters in order to complete the registration. It is essential to use the same passport to apply for EVUS as that used to apply for the U.S. visa.

It is also necessary to provide the B1/B2 visa number of the applicant’s approved U.S. visa. This can be found marked in red on the bottom right of the visa document.

Applicants are advised to register with EVUS at least 72 hours before the intended date of arrival in the United States, to allow for sufficient processing and delivery time.

Arriving in the United States

After receiving your approved EVUS authorization, it’s a good idea to read up on what to expect at the U.S. border so you can adequately prepare for your trip. In addition to remembering to bring the correct passport and visa/EVUS documents, the following tips will help you successfully gain entry to the United States:

  • Show proof you have sufficient funds and do not intend to work: All arrivals at US immigration are subjected to a short interview to determine the validity of the visit, similar to that conducted during the visa application. The most important concern to immigration officials is that you do not intend to perform any activity not permitted by the visa. If they are not convinced, you may be subject to further questioning and/or a search of your personal belongings, including any letters, diaries, and other documentation.
  • Provide an invitation letter from a U.S. company or conference registration details (business travelers only).
  • Don’t bring anything that implies you intend to immigrate to the United States: This could include employment documents, photographs typically kept at home, excessive luggage, or pets.
  • Provide the street address where you will be staying in the United States: It is necessary to provide the address where you will be staying for the first night in the United States. If staying at a hotel, provide the reservation details (this should be under your name). If a private address, make sure the occupants know you are arriving that day, as immigration officials may phone to check. It’s also a good idea to save any messages in which your hosts have mentioned inviting you to stay.
  • Complete a customs form: All travelers are given a customs declaration form to fill in upon arrival. Although it is only necessary to complete one per family, all travelers over 18 must complete an individual declaration. If you either enter or leave the U.S. with more than $10,000 in cash or the equivalent, it is necessary to declare it on your customs form and then complete an additional declaration form. Not declaring such an amount can lead to a fine and the seizure of the cash.
  • Don’t bring any prohibited goods: It is prohibited to bring meat or raw fruit or vegetables into the United States. It is also prohibited to bring in goods from countries upon which the United States has imposed economic sanctions: Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Sudan, and Myanmar.

Chinese travelers who follow these tips should be able to successfully enter the United States with a B1/B2 visa and EVUS authorization. It’s also important to keep in mind that it is still possible to travel to the United States with a visa or EVUS that is about to expire, as long as the traveler enters the United States before the expiry date of the visa/EVUS.

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