What is a U.S. Visa?
A citizen of a foreign country who seeks to enter the United States generally must first obtain a U.S. visa, which is placed in the traveler’s passport, a travel document issued by the traveler’s country of citizenship.
Certain international travelers may be eligible to travel to the United States without a visa if they meet the requirements for visa-free travel. The Visa section of this website is all about U.S. visas for foreign citizens to travel to the United States.
(Note: U.S. citizens don’t need a U.S. visa for travel, but when planning travel abroad may need a visa issued by the embassy of the country they wish to visit. In this situation, when planning travel abroad, learn about visa requirements by country, see country information in the International Travel Section section of this website.)
More Information about Visas
Find out what visa type is appropriate for you
The type of visa you must obtain is defined by U.S. immigration law, and relates to the purpose of your travel.
Please visit our Visa Wizard to find out what visa type is appropriate for you.
A passport is a travel document, usually issued by a country’s government to its citizens, that certifies the identity and nationality of its holder primarily for the purpose of international travel. Standard passports may contain information such as the holder’s name, place and date of birth, photograph, signature, and other relevant identifying information.
Many countries have either begun issuing or plan to issue biometric passports that contains an embedded microchip, making them machine-readable and difficult to counterfeit. As of January 2019, there are over 150 jurisdictions issuing these e-passports. Previously issued non-biometric machine-readable passports usually remain valid until their respective expiration dates.
A passport holder is normally entitled to enter the country that issued the passport, though some people entitled to a passport may not be full citizens with right of abode (e.g. American nationals or British nationals). A passport does not of itself create any rights in the country being visited or obligate the issuing country in any way, such as providing consular assistance. Some passports attest to the bearer having a status as a diplomat or other official, entitled to rights and privileges such as immunity from arrest or prosecution.
Many countries normally allow entry to holders of passports of other countries, sometimes requiring a visa also to be obtained, but this is not an automatic right. Many other additional conditions, such as not being likely to become a public charge for financial or other reasons, and the holder not having been convicted of a crime, may apply. Where a country does not recognise another, or is in dispute with it, it may prohibit the use of their passport for travel to that other country, or may prohibit entry to holders of that other country’s passports, and sometimes to others who have, for example, visited the other country. Some individuals are subject to sanctions which deny them entry into particular countries.