Do You Need a Visa to Visit the USA?

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Do You Need a Visa to Visit the USA?

While in Europe we’re used to an open-border regime where in many cases you won’t even have to show an ID to cross from one country to another, once you leave the Eurozone, things become more complicated very quickly. In many cases of international travel, a visa must be requested in advance. Those holding a UK passport are still relatively lucky: the UK ranks as the 4th most powerful passport in the world. For example, with a UK passport, you can for example visit Uruguay, Argentina or Brunei for up to 90 days without a visa, and stay in Jamaica, Panama or Mexico for 180 days, and in the British territories such as the Isle of Man, Guernsey and Gibraltar, British citizens have the right of abode.

Travel to the USA under the Visa Waiver Programme

For other countries, however, a bit more preparation is required. If you want to visit the USA, whether or not you need a visa will depend on the purpose of your trip and how long you intend to stay. If you plan to travel for less than 90 days for business or tourism purposes, you’re eligible for the Visa Waiver Programme. This means you won’t have to visit the US consulate in advance. Instead, in order to travel to the USA on the Visa Waiver Programme, you’ll need to make an ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization) application in advance. This is a relatively straightforward process, and once obtained, the ESTA is valid for two years, or until the expiration of your passport – whichever occurs earlier. There are only a few circumstances which would cause this application to be rejected, and usually mistakes are at the root of the rejection, so seeking out expert advice is never a bad idea. Find more information on applying for your ESTA here.

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Travel to the USA under the Visa Waiver Programme

Travel to the USA on a regular Visa

If you do plan to travel to the USA for a purpose other than tourism or business – to attend a university (even if it’s just a short time), to do an internship or to work, for example – or if you plan to stay longer than 90 days, you will need to apply for a visa. You’ll have to do this through the US consulate in the UK. There are different types of visas depending on the purpose of your travel, which you can check through the website of the State Department. Make sure you prepare your application well in advance to avoid any last-minute issues and ensure you’ll have your visa by the time of your planned trip.

Being used to easy travel without visa applications or changing currency, the prospect of international travel outside of Europe may seem daunting. However, with only a little extra preparation, you can plan a trip to the US easily. With the implementation of the Visa Waiver Programme, short visits for business and tourism have become even easier to arrange. No more excuses! Start planning your next trip today.

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