If you’re traveling to the USA for the first time, it’s important to do some research beforehand. Not only is it important to research the things you need when first entering the United States, but also what you need to know when you actually get there.
Before you make your trip to the USA, you need to either obtain an ESTA authorization or a visa. If your country falls under the Visa Waiver Program, you can apply for an ESTA authorization online. There are a few countries who aren’t part of this program, and for those of you who happen to be a citizen of one of those countries, you will need to apply for a B-1 or B-2 Visa instead.
Even if you’re just transiting through the US, you need to apply for an ESTA. It’s important to note that ESTA authorizations are not the same as visa’s, and they are not comparable. You can only visit the USA on an ESTA if your country is part of the Visa Waiver Program, you’re traveling for leisure and you’re not staying longer than 90 days.
Border security in the United States is very different than a lot of other countries, which you will notice as soon as you get there. When you enter the USA, your fingerprints and picture will be taken. Depending on the airport, this will be done by a border patrol agent or a machine, which means you’ll have to do it by yourself.
After this is done, you will have to talk directly to a border patrol agent, who will ask you a few questions. Usually they will ask you for what purpose you’re traveling to the USA, how long you’ll be staying and how much cash money you’re bringing with you. Answer these questions truthfully to avoid any problems. Always make sure to print evidence of employment at home and proof that you’ve booked a flight back to your home country. The USA is very wary of illegal immigrants and anything that will provide evidence that you’re only staying for a limited amount of time will help.
If you’re coming to the USA for business or to study, this process might look a bit different. First, you will have to apply for one of the many different visa’s that are available. For some visa’s, you will have to send in your birth certificate and other personal documents or even have an interview at the embassy. You will have to apply a few months or even a year prior to your trip, because it can take a while for visa’s to be reviewed and approved.
Of course, it doesn’t matter if you will visit the USA on a visa, ESTA Travel Authorization or something else, you will always need your passport with you. Make sure your passport is not about to expire and you can legally use it to enter the USA.