What are the formalities for entering the United States?
The United States of America is a popular destination for tourists from all over the world. The American territory offers many tourist routes and nearly 80 million tourists entered the United States in 2019. In 2021, only 6 million tourists could travel to the US.
There are 3 main administrative formalities to obtain the right to enter the territory of the United States of America:
- Obtaining a Permanent Resident Card, the famous Green Card USA;
- Applying for a US Visa. There are many visas, the most common being the USA Tourist Visa or the Business Visa;
- Electronic ESTA travel authorization as part of the Visa Waiver Program established with 40 U.S. partner countries around the world.
What is the Green Card
The Green Card is the name of the Permanent Resident Card in the United States. This residence permit in the USA is valid for life. There are several ways to get it:
- Most individuals who wish to reside permanently in the U.S. apply for a green card and justify their application according to their chosen criteria for obtaining it.
- About 50,000 green cards are issued each year in a lottery organized by USCIS. Participants must meet certain criteria (listed below) and apply before October to be eligible for the annual drawing.
Eligibility requirements for participation in the green card lottery
The U.S. wants to maintain the mix within the immigrant population. To be eligible for the drawing, you must be born in one of the countries listed for the current year. Nationals of certain countries are not always allowed to apply, the list of countries is redrawn each year by excluding countries that have had many applicants in the last 5 years.
For example, nationals of the following countries were not allowed to enter the lottery in the 2022 prize draw: England, Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, China, Scotland, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, India, Jamaica , Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, South Korea and Vietnam.
To be eligible to apply, you must also meet other eligibility requirements:
Hold a baccalaureate degree or otherwise have worked for at least 2 years in the last 5 years, which requires a minimum of 2 years of education or experience.
What is a US visa
The visa is an official residence permit issued by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The visa is noted in the passport of the traveler in the form of a stamp. It certifies that you can enter the U.S. administratively. This travel authorization must be obtained from the U.S. Embassy or Consulate before you begin your trip to the United States.
Possession of a visa does not guarantee you entry into the United States: You will receive final approval to enter the United States when you arrive at the U.S. border and pass through customs officials.
The most common U.S. visitor visa is the B2 visa. This tourist visa for the USA requires, among other things, an interview at the American Embassy. During this interview, the visa candidate meets with a consular agent to confirm his or her plan to remain in the United States.
What is an ESTA electronic travel authorization?
Some foreign nationals are exempt from applying for a visa to enter and remain in the United States. Most visa-exempt countries are part of the VWP. Countries that are members of this U.S. Visa Waiver Program may travel to the United States for business or tourism with a simple Electronic System Travel Authorization (ESTA) for 90 days.
As with a visa, a traveler who chooses to travel with ESTA must apply at least 72 hours before boarding a flight to the United States. In fact, the U.S. administration’s response time can be up to 72 hours. During these 3 days, the status of the application will indicate that your ESTA is pending. This delay does not mean your ESTA will be denied, it does not indicate a problem in your travel file.
A major exception applies to citizens of Canada. Canadians are exempt from applying for a U.S. visa to enter the United States. The same is true for Americans, if they travel to Canada, they do not have to get a tourist visa from Canada beforehand, there are special agreements between the two neighboring countries.