Generally, in order to travel to the United States, a foreign national must first obtain a visa that grants the holder permission to travel to the U.S. for purposes specified on the visa. In order to obtain a visa, a person must apply for a visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate in their home country. If approved, the inspector will issue the traveler a visa that will indicate the length of time it is valid for use of travel to the United States. Please note: the expiration date on the visa does not denote the time a holder may remain in the U.S., but rather only the time s/he may use the visa to seek permission (travel) to enter.
Despite issuance of a visa by a U.S. embassy or consulate, authority to grant permission to enter the U.S. rests with the individual U.S. Customs & Border Protection official at the Port Of Entry. Having an approved visa does not necessarily grant permission to enter.
Foreign nationals who have been granted permission to enter the U.S. on a valid visa who wish to stay beyond the time indicated on their I-94 Departure Record, must apply for an extension of stay with the USCIS in the United States.
Because each U.S. Embassy and Consulate has different visa application procedures and requirements, it is difficult to provide general application instructions. Please click here to locate a Embassy or Consulate in your home country and the specific instructions you must follow in order to demonstrate your eligibility for a visa.