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How do I get a U.S. visa?

For anyone wishing to travel to the United States, whether to settle permanently or for a visit, the first step is obtaining a U.S. visa. A visa is a legal document which allows a foreign national to travel to a U.S. port of entry. For most travelers this will be an airport in the U.S. For those entering the U.S. through Florida, several ports of entry are available.

The visa application process generally takes a few weeks, but sometimes it takes longer, so it is a good idea to begin the application process as soon as you decide to travel to the U.S.

The first step is to set up an appointment with a United States Embassy or Consulate in your home country. Fees are due at the time of the first appointment, so you should find out what fees must be paid for the type of visa you are seeking.

When you visit the embassy or consulate, you should bring your passport, a completed application for your visa type and any required supporting documents such as those regarding your employment or student status and your reason for travel. You should also bring proof that you have paid the appropriate fees.

The U.S. government will check your information against a database for security purposes. If any questions are raised, this can delay the process for several weeks. During this time U.S. officials may request additional information, interviews and possibly fingerprinting.

There are many types of U.S. visas available, including both immigrant and non-immigrant visas. There are tourist visas, work visas, student visas and visas for executives, investors and artists. Understanding which type of visa you qualify for can be a complicated question. An experienced U.S. immigration lawyer can help you choose the correct visa type and provide guidance throughout the application process.

Source: Findlaw.com, "How to Get a U.S. Visa," accessed Oct. 16, 2016

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