With an estimated 51 million international visitors in 2022, the U.S. ranks as one of the top 10 most-visited countries in the world. Except for those coming for business purposes, most travel here to get an up close and personal view of the country’s many natural wonders, cities, historic landmarks, and entertainment venues. International travelers visit many states in the U.S., but some are more popular than others. Attracting 69%, 65%, and 57% of visitors, respectively, New York, Florida, and California are the top three states that international visitors travel to and explore the most. Like other countries, individuals who want to travel to the U.S. for tourism must have a valid visa. The only exception is for individuals traveling from Visa Waiver Program (VWP) countries.
What Does the Visa Waiver Program Mean for International Travelers Wanting to Visit the U.S.?
For those unaware, the Visa Waiver Program, according to Homeland Security, entitles citizens of participating countries to travel to the U.S. for business or tourism and remain in the country for up to 90 days without a visa. Anyone wishing to stay longer than 90 days or traveling from a non-visa waiver program country must have one to enter the U.S. That said, there are different types of visas available to such individuals, and they include:
The Non-Immigrant B Visa
Whether the goal is to spend more than 90 days in the country, traveling for business, or traveling from a non-visa waiver program country, you will need a B visa. The U.S. issues two types of B visas: B1 and B2. The B1 visa is mostly for travelers coming to the U.S. for short-term business trips. The B2 is a visa the U.S. issues for traveling and tourism purposes and for those wishing to stay in the U.S. longer than 90 days. Once someone obtains a B-2 visa, they can remain in or leave and reenter the country for up to six months. If necessary, they can extend their stay even longer by applying for an extension of stay at a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) field office or filling out a Form I-539 application online.
Additional Temporary U.S. Visas
While the B1 and B2 are the most common, the U.S. offers other temporary visas to individuals who want to visit or work in the country. Some of the more notable of these include:
The F Student Visa
Between 2021 and 2022, the U.S. was home to some 948,519 international students. To enter and remain in the U.S. as a student, individuals must obtain an F Student Visa. According to the USCIS, this visa allows students to attend school full-time and remain in the U.S. for up to two years, with the option to extend their stay even longer if needed.
The H Temporary Work Visas
Available data shows the U.S. issued more than 1 million employment-based visas in 2022. Individuals from foreign countries must have a temporary work visa to work in the U.S. While there are several kinds, the H-1B, H-2A, and H-2B visas are the most commonly issued, and they each allow individuals to work in the U.S. legally.
In summary, many visa options are available to individuals who want to visit, explore, or work in the U.S. The ones detailed in this article are the most popular, but there are many others. There is also the Visa Waiver Program, which allows individuals traveling from select countries to enter the U.S. for a period without a visa. In short, there are plenty of ways to visit and enjoy your time in the U.S. and to do so legally.
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