A U.S. visa is a sticker placed in a traveler's passport which gives that person the right to apply for admission to the U.S. Among the information printed on the visa is the category, the expiration date, and the number of entries allowed. The category of a U.S. visa is determined by the purpose of travel (business, tourism, study, training, cultural exchange, temporary employment, etc.). The category is important because it determines which rights or privileges a traveler may enjoy. For example, it is possible to work as Camp Counselor in the U.S. on a cultural exchange visa, but not on a tourist visa.
The validity of the visa ends on the expiration date. This date determines the last date upon which a person may enter the U.S. It does not determine how long a person may stay in the U.S. That decision is made by a U.S. Immigration Officer at the port of entry where the traveler enters the U.S. The maximum duration of stay allowed varies according to the visa category.
The category of visa that a traveler needs is determined by the purpose of his or her trip. The following five categories encompass the most common purposes for travel to the United States. They are not mutually exclusive. A person could, for example, plan a visit that includes both business and tourism.
Tourist Visas are for people who wish to travel to the U.S. for pleasure. A planned trip to visit friends or relatives in the U.S. would fall under this category. Applicants for tourist visas must show the purpose of their trip, that they have sufficient finds to complete the trip and that they intend to return home afterwards.
Business Visas are for people who wish to travel to the U.S. on business. Typical reasons for a business trip include transacting business with a U.S. company or attending a trade show. Applicants for business visas must demonstrate that their planned visit is a bonafide business trip. They may be asked to present information about their employment, their company and their U.S. connection.
Student and Exchange Visitor Visas are for persons travelling to the U.S. on approved student, training or cultural exchange programs. Applicants must meet the requirements of the university or institution's program that he or she has been offered. Applicants must also receive an approved form, a so-called DS-2019, before applying for a visa. The original DS-2019 must be presented to the Consul during the visa interview.
Work visas are given in connection with a temporary work permit. Typical applicants for temporary work permits include intercompany transferees, trainees, professional athletes and artists performing at paid events. Temporary work permits are issued on the basis of petitions filed with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in the U.S. by a prospective American employer. Applicants for temporary work permits should request that their future employer in the U.S. contact the nearest regional office of the DHS to file a petition. A visa interview at the Consulate will only be scheduled after DHS approves a petition.
Fiance Visas Fiance(e) Visas are for persons planning to travel to the U.S. in order to marry an American citizen and then reside there permanently. Fiance(e) visas, like all categories of immigrant visas, are not issued in the Consulate in Yekaterinburg. Residents of Russia must apply for fiance(e) visas at the Embassy in Moscow. Fiance(e) visas are issued on the basis of petitions filed with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in the U.S. by a prospective American spouse. Applicants for fiance(e) visas should request that their future spouse in the U.S. contact the nearest regional office of the INS to file a petition. A visa interview at the Embassy will only be scheduled after INS approves a petition.
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