United States of America Visa and Passport Requirements

Passport required Return ticket required Visa required
Australian Yes Yes No
British Yes Yes No
Canadian Yes No No
Other EU Yes Yes No/1
USA N/A N/A N/A

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Passports

To enter the United States of America, a passport valid for the duration of stay is required by nationals in the chart above.

Passport note

All travellers entering the USA under the Visa Waiver Program require individual machine-readable passports. Children included on a parent's passport also require their own machine-readable passport. Travellers not in possession of machine-readable passports require a valid USA entry visa.

Visitors to the USA travelling under the Visa Waiver Program must obtain authorisation from the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA), a fully automated, electronic system for screening passengers before they begin travel to the USA, if arriving by air or sea. It is recommended that applications are made at least 72 hours prior to travel but you may apply at any time prior to travel. Airlines must now deny check-in to passengers without valid ESTA. Apply online (https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov). There is a US$14 fee.

An ESTA is valid for two years, so if you've applied for one previously, ensure it's still valid.

When applying for ESTA-authorisation and entering the passport number, the number 0 must not be replaced by letter O as this can lead to problems upon entering the USA. The granting of an ESTA does not guarantee entry to the USA.

Canadian citizens do not require an ESTA, but permanent residents of Canada who are eligible for the Visa Waiver Program must obtain one.

All persons, including US citizens, travelling by air, land, or sea between the USA and Canada, Central and South America, the Caribbean and Bermuda are required to present a valid passport, or other approved document, when entering or re-entering the USA.

Visas

Visas are not required by nationals referred to in the chart above for stays of up to 90 days, except:

1. Nationals of Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Poland and Romania, who do require a visa as they are not included in the Visa Waiver Program.

Countries are occasionally added to the Visa Waiver Program; check the US Department of State's website for recent additions (http://travel.state.gov/content/visas/english/visit/visa-waiver-program.html).

Visa note

All passengers using US airports for transit purposes are required to obtain a transit visa. This does not affect qualified travellers travelling visa-free under the Visa Waiver Program.

To qualify for visa-free travel under the Visa Waiver Program, nationals must travel on a valid passport, for holiday, transit or business purposes only and for a stay not exceeding 90 days.

Holders of UK passports with the endorsement British Subject, British Dependent Territories Citizen, British Protected Person, British Overseas Citizen or British National (Overseas) Citizen do not qualify for the Visa Waiver Program. A passport which states holder has right of abode or indefinite leave to remain in the UK does not qualify for visa-free travel.

A visa does not expire with the expiry of the holder's passport. An unexpired, endorsed visa in an expired passport may be presented for entry into the USA, as long as the visa itself has not been cancelled, is undamaged, is less than 10 years old and is presented with a valid non-expired passport, provided that both passports are for the same nationality.

Nationals of countries not referred to in the chart above are advised to contact the embassy to check visa requirements.

Types and cost

Tourist, business, transit and student visas: US$160.

Validity

Visas may be used for travel to the USA until the date of expiry as long as presented with a valid passport. Some visas are valid for multiple entries. The length of stay in the USA is determined by US immigration officials at the time of entry.

Transit

Travellers who are visa-free under the Visa Waiver Program do not require a transit visa, but must obtain ESTA-authorisation prior to travel.

Application to

Embassy or consulate. All visitors requiring a visa must attend an interview at the nearest US consulate/embassy.

Schengen visas

The USA does not participate in the Schengen visa scheme.

Temporary residence

Typically, temporary residence must be applied for in the individual's home country at the local US embassy or consulate.

Working days

Varies widely - check with embassy/consulate for current processing times. At the US Embassy in the UK, there is a 15-day wait for appointments and visa processing takes three working days.

Sufficient funds

US Customs and Border Protection requires that visitors from abroad substantiate they have sufficient funds to enter the USA. The amount is not a fixed number, however, and does not have to be solely in cash; credit cards, traveller's cheques and other currency equivalents are considered. For more information, check the USCBP's website (www.cbp.gov).

Extension of stay

Citizens of visa waiver countries may not apply to extend their stay. Citizens of other countries must file a request with US Citizenship and Immigration Services using Form I-539; the form must be submitted prior to the expiration of the original visa.

Entry with children

Children travelling with adults who are not their legal guardians and/or who are travelling with one parent rather than both parents will require a signed and notarised letter from the legal guardian(s) indicating that permission has been granted to leave their country of citizenship and enter the USA. If a single parent has sole custody, he or she must bring a court custody document to substantiate this.

Entry restrictions

Visitors who have been arrested (even if the arrest did not result in a criminal conviction), visitors with a criminal record, and visitors with certain communicable diseases are not eligible for the Visa Waiver Program and must apply for a visa.

Entry with pets

Dogs and cats may enter the USA provided that you have a current certificate of health signed by a veterinarian in your home country, as well as proof of vaccinations. Many animals are not allowed to be brought into the USA; you can find a complete list on the US Customs and Border Protection website (www.cbp.gov).

Embassies and tourist offices

Embassy of the United States of America in the UK
Telephone: (020) 7499 9000 or 0904 245 0100. Website: http://www.usembassy.org.uk Opening times: Mon-Fri 0830-1730 (Only applicants with visa appointments admitted).Consulates in: Belfast and Edinburgh.
Edited by Jane Duru
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