The US Visa Law and Policies

The visa policy in the US deals with the requirements which foreigners wishing to enter the United States of America must meet to acquire a visa – a permit to travel, to enter, and to remain in the U.S. Sometimes, it is best to get a lawyer involved because US Visa laws and policies are so complicated and complex. You can check some professional lawyers here:

A visitor to the U.S is required to get a visa from US’s diplomatic missions unless they come from Visa Waiver Program countries or visa-exempt countries.

Similar regulations apply to the U.S Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico while different guidelines apply to American Samoa, Guam, as well as the Northern Mariana Islands.

The US Visa Law and Policies

The US immigration laws endorsed by Congress provide authority over visa and immigration-related matters such as entry and exit of travelers across the country’s border. Immigration laws, like the INA (Immigration and Naturalization Act) in Title 8 of the US Code with amendments, control visa processing and issuance. Such enactments include the Enhanced Border Security Act of 2002 and the USA Patriot Act of 2001.

Entry Visas

Every foreigner wishing to enter the US must obtain a permit unless the person satisfies at least one of the following requirements:

  • A permanent citizen of the U.S.
  • A resident of the Compact of Free Association States: Palau, Federated States of Micronesia, and the Marshall Islands.
  • A Canadian resident.
  • A citizen of the British Overseas Territories with a connection to Bermuda.
  • A resident of one of the 38 nations which are part of the Visa Waiver Program.

Mexican residents can travel to U.S.A with no passport but under limited circumstances, if they seek to enter the country for less than 72 hours and holding Border Crossing Card. In that case, they will only be permitted to operate within the “border zone.”

Despite the 185 different categories of visas, there are two major types of U.S visas:

  • Immigration visa – for individuals to immigrate to America. The person’s immigrant visa is processed for a permanent resident card at the port entry.
  • Non immigration visa – for temporary visits including business, work, tour, studying, visiting family, and so on.

Exit Visas

Exit visas are not compulsory.  Nevertheless, the United States government requires all the U.S and foreign citizens living the US by air for Mexico, Bermuda, Canada or countries in the Caribbean apart from the West Indies to have a valid passport since October 1, 2007. Although travelers may not be required to produce a visa to enter a particular country, they must have a valid passport booklet when departing from the U.S and to satisfy the immigration authorities.

Those exempted from holding a valid passport booklet should have one of the following:

  • U.S Permanent Resident Card.
  • U.S Military ID Card and on official duty.
  • Emergency Travel Document issued by a Foreign Embassy.
  • US Merchant Mariner Card.

Visa Processing Time

The U.S laws governing policy indicated that visa delivery should take less than 30 days from time of application. However, most cases that demand administrative processing may take longer. When such administrative processing is mandatory, the timing will differ based on individual circumstances of each case.

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