So far, 2013 is on track to be a record year for U.S. tourism. In March alone, international visitors to the U.S. spent more than $ 14.4 billion.
If you are considering visiting the United States this year, you may be worried about getting a tourist visa. However, not all visitors to the country need a visa. Whether or not you need a tourist visa to travel to the U.S. depends upon your home country. Currently, the citizens of the 37 countries that belong to the visa-waiver program do not need visas to travel to the U.S. for short periods. Additionally, citizens of Canada and Bermuda are exempted from visa requirements in many cases.
If you are a citizen of a visa-waiver program country, you generally do not need a visa if:
- You have a passport that meets the visa-waiver program requirements and is valid for at least six months after your planned date of departure from the U.S.
- You plan to stay in the U.S. for 90 days or less
- You are visiting the U.S. for business, tourism, medical care or to visit friends and family
- You have not previously been denied a visa
The visa-waiver program is a great convenience for citizens of the 37 participating countries. It is also a benefit to the American tourist industry, which sees a boost in bookings when new countries are added.
Many countries are now lobbying to be included in the program. The immigration reform bill, which my immigration law office is closely tracking, may include provisions to expand the visa-waiver program. Some countries that may soon join the visa-waiver program include Brazil, Israel and Poland.