Traveling to the USA: Entry Requirements for Foreigners

Traveling to the USA: Entry Requirements for Foreigners

International visitors to the U.S. totaled 76.9 million in 2017, so it’s fair to assume that the Land of the Free and Home of the Brave remains a potent draw for tourists. However, before traveling to the U.S., it’s important to check entry requirements for the USA and obtain the respective visa or travel authorization.

There are currently a number of different visa options that those wanting to visit the U.S. can apply for depending on their nationality. A number of countries can travel to the U.S. with the ESTA visa waiver, while Chinese travelers require the B1, B2 or combination visa. However, Chinese citizens also need to obtain an electronic travel visa to enter the United States.

How to enter the U.S. from China

Since 2016, visitors to the United States from China are required to register with the Electronic Visa Update System in addition to having a valid U.S. travel visa of ten years, whether they are traveling for transit, business or tourism short stays. The aim of the system is to allow for easy electronic access to travelers’ information and to speed up the process for entry to the U.S. The EVUS system helps identify travelers before they arrive in the United States, in order to reinforce border security.

In the near future, it’s likely that citizens of Latin American countries including Colombia, Mexico and Venezuela will also have to apply for EVUS. However, the EVUS registration is currently only mandatory for the People’s Republic of China passport holders who have been granted an American visitor visa. Citizens of Hong Kong, Macao, and Taiwan only need to complete an EVUS application in the event that they also have a Chinese passport.

The easy online application for EVUS takes around 20 minutes to complete. In order to register for the travel visa to the U.S, Chinese citizens need to supply the following:

  • Data from their passport information page, including name, date of birth, place of birth and passport number
  • A current address
  • Details of their approved 10-year B1/B2 visa
  • Current or most recent employment details
  • Health information
  • Credit or debit card information to pay the visa fee
  • A current email address at which to receive the visa.

It’s essential to revise the information entered before submitting, as incorrect information will result in rejection of the application. Response time is usually mere minutes, although some applications may take longer to process than others. If the visa seems to be taking its time to arrive in your inbox, it’s possible to revise the status of the application using the enrollment number given when applying.

Travelers can submit their application any time before their trip, however, it is strongly advised that they enroll at least 72 hours before departure. And it’s important to remember that Chinese citizens must first obtain a valid U.S travel visa for China before registering with the EVUS system.

What documents are required for travel to the USA?

Travelers from 38 countries coming to the United States for a period of less than 90 consecutive days can apply for the ESTA electronic visa waiver. However, China is not eligible for this electronic travel authorization. Alongside a valid passport, Chinese citizens must provide a combination of EVUS and the correct type of U.S. visa corresponding to their stay.

There are different documents you need to travel with to the United States, depending on the purpose of the stay. Chinese Citizens can apply for three types of nonimmigrant visa Each type of travel visa comes with its own U.S. visa requirements, so it’s crucial to know the distinction:

  • B1 visas cover business travel
  • B2 visas serve for tourism or medical treatment
  • B1/B2 combination visas cover trips that mix business with tourism.

In order to get the US B1/B2 visa, applicants must first complete the DS-160 form, which can be found on the website of the U.S. Department of State. After filling out and submitting the form, applicants are required to print a paper copy, pay the fee of the visa at a local bank and then make an appointment at a U.S. consulate or embassy. When the appointment comes around, the applicant will need to present a copy of their DS-160 and be subject to a thorough formal interview at the embassy or consulate. Most applicants need to present additional documents to demonstrate their personal and economic bond to their country of origin or residence.

The time period the B1/B2 visas cover depends on the needs of the applicant but can range from between one to a maximum of ten years. During the period of validity, the visa can be used to enter the U.S. for a maximum 180 day period in any given year. It’s also possible to apply for an extension to allow the visa holder to remain in the U.S. for a consecutive visit of up to a year, but documentation supporting the motive is required. After the use of a visa for 10 years it is also possible to apply for a visitor visa renewal.

Once the correct B1/B2 visa has been obtained, the traveler can then register with the online EVUS application and begin preparing for their trip to the United States. Remember to gather all the entry requirements to the USA before booking your flight. Make sure that you meet the passport requirements established by the U.S. government, and remember that the passport must be valid in order to travel to the United States.

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