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Does everyone need a visa before coming to the US?

We often discuss the challenges that many people face when it comes to becoming a citizen or securing permanent residence in this country. The process can be long, complicated and very frustrating, especially because people are typically trying to navigate it for the very first time.

However, even if you don't plan on staying in the U.S. for very long, it doesn't mean you can automatically skip the process of seeking a visa. People who are traveling to the United States, even temporarily, are typically required to obtain a visitor visa. However, you may be eligible for the Visa Waiver Program which allows you to skip the visa requirement. 

As is the case for just about aspect of the visa system, the requirements to qualify for the VWP are quite strict. In order to even begin thinking about applying, you must be sure that you are:

  • Planning to stay in the U.S. for no more than 90 days and have appropriate documentation to support your plans
  • Coming from one of the 38 countries that participate in the VWP
  • Traveling here for specific reasons including tourism, vacation or family visits; traveling here to work, study for credit or work as a member of the press are not permitted

If you meet these criteria, traveling to the U.S. on a VWP may be possible. However, there are several other steps that you may need to take and pieces of information you will have prepared. For instance, you will still need a passport and you will have to be sure you are traveling here with a round-trip ticket on an approved airline or sea carrier.

Failing to get the proper permissions to travel to this country can lead to serious penalties and consequences. If you are in this difficult situation or wish to avoid it, you would be wise to discuss your case and your options with an attorney.

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