Published on September 17th, 2019 | by Sunit Nandi


A Guide to the USA immigration law

People travel for various reasons; to receive secular education, business, for employment opportunities, or pleasure. Moving to a new country has its challenges. For most nations, you need to obtain a visa or go through the required proper procedure and paperwork before you are allowed to travel.

Traveling to the United States also has its different protocols – obtaining a U.S. Visa or ESTA. ESTA means Electronic System for Travel Authorization is a form that is filled online before you can travel to the United States. This could be called the ESTA form. There are certain vital information that you need to know about the U.S. immigration law and its policies if you decide to travel the U.S.

Requirements for Traveling to the U.S.

Traveling legally to the United States has specific requirements. In some countries, obtaining a visa is the only means for one to go. For some other countries, however, it is not necessary to get a Visa before they can travel to the U.S. A third category exists, and these are the countries that have been banned from visiting the U.S. due to severe reasons.

How to Procure a U.S. Visa.

Visas to the United States of America are of several types. If you are traveling to get an education or your company has transferred you to the U.S. to continue working with them, or you have business there or perhaps to receive medical care. The purpose of your journey determines the type of Visa you would apply. Of course, each Visa has the duration of stay and do’s and don’ts that pertain to the Visa. For example, if you have traveled to the U.S. for business or medical care, you cannot get enrolled in secular education. You could take classes that are not secular, for example, a two-day cooking class.

You would need to have an interview with an official from the U.S. embassy who would then determine if you are qualified for a visa or not.

Documents required

To obtain a visa, you need first to ensure that you have all necessary documents.

A valid passport is a must. Your passport should not expire for 6 months after your intended visit to the U.S.

Other documents providing personal information about yourself and the purpose of your visit are also necessary.

An application fee is required; after successfully paying for the Visa, the payment slip needs to be printed as this is required for use.

Next, you need to fill a Visa application form and input all the required information. You should have a photograph of yourself, which you would upload when filling out the form. A confirmation page confirming your application would pop up, print out the confirmation page and provide it as a necessary document also.

Next is to schedule an interview with the U.S. embassy or immigration office in your country. There you will meet a representative who will then interview you, and you need to be comported and answer all the necessary questions. Bring all the required documents listed above for the interview and come along with a photograph.

The Electronic System for Travel Authorization ESTA

The United States launched a program that allows some countries to visit without applying for a U.S. Visa, known as the Visa Waiver Program VWP. Citizens of countries under the program who want to travel to the U.S. for a visit, may not need to procure a U.S. VISA, they only need to apply electronically with the Electronic System for Travel Authorization ESTA.

What is the ESTA?

The ESTA is an online application that is required to be completed and submitted before a person under the VWP can travel to the U.S. The ESTA is valid for 2 years after completion, and you can visit the country anytime but not longer than 90 days. You may need to apply for another one if your passport or ESTA expires.

Unlike applying for the Visa, you do not need a lot of documentation to apply for ESTA. An electronic passport or an e-passport is the first thing that is required. An e-passport has a digital chip that contains all of your biometric information. Your passport needs to be Valid for 6 months beyond the duration of your stay in the U.S. An email address is also required, along with a means for online payment, as ESTA requires an application fee.

You can not stay for an extended period if you use ESTA as a means of traveling to the U.S., and you cannot apply for a job or enroll in a school.


A person may be a citizen, or have an e-passport from a member country under the VWP but may still be ineligible to apply for ESTA. Below are some of the reasons they may be ineligible –

They should not have previously been arrested even if they didn’t serve jail time.

Should not have been previously incarcerated or have a criminal record. Even if you later received amnesty or was pardoned.

Not ill with certain serious infectious diseases.

Have not previously been refused entry, have not been deported or stayed longer than the required 90 days on a previous visit.

People who belong into any of these categories should not apply for entry with ESTA. If they want to travel to the U.S., they would have to apply for a U.S. Visa.

Nationalities under the Visa Waiver Program VWP

There are about 38 countries who are under the Visa Waiver Program, these countries are ; Andorra, Austria, Belgium , Brunei, Chile, Czech Republic, Australia ,Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Estonia, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Republic of Korea, San Marino, Slovakia, Singapore, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, and the United Kingdom.

If you are going to the U.S. for business purposes or as a tourist, and you are a citizen of a country under the VWP, and you have a clean record, you may decide to go online and apply through the ESTA. Choosing which to use between A U.S. Visa and ESTA form all depends on the reason for your visit to the country. Keep in mind that the immigration officer may refuse you entry if he decides that you have other ideas for visit other than that specified for the ESTA.

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I'm the leader of Techno FAQ. Also an engineering college student with immense interest in science and technology. Other interests include literature, coin collecting, gardening and photography. Always wish to live life like there's no tomorrow.

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