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About visas

Visas are screening for residents of other countries who desire to enter the U.S., by determining in advance whether or not their entry is likely to present any problems. In principle, if an applicant is not issued a visa through the prior screening process, he or she may not enter the U.S. Also, in some cases even after being issued a visa through prior screening, entry may be refused in immigration screening at the port of entry. Those who desire to visit the United States must first obtain, through prior screening, either a nonimmigrant visa or an immigrant visa (for permanent residence in the U.S.). If traveling to the U.S. on a short-term business trip or for a sightseeing trip no longer than 90 days, apply for ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization) through ESTA online system for obtaining authorization, which has been required by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for visitors using the visa waiver program since January 12, 2009. A visa, or an ESTA authorization, does not guarantee your right to enter the United States.

To be eligible for the visa waiver program, travelers must satisfy a variety of conditions. They must be nationals of countries participating in the visa waiver program, holding passports that satisfy the program’s passport conditions. As noted above, they must plan to stay in the U.S. for no longer than 90 days and be traveling for purposes such as business, sightseeing, or transport. There are various conditions apply depending on the situation such as for obtaining tickets to the next destination when entering the country by air or sea, as an example, therefore, be sure to check these conditions in advance.

It may take as long as one month or longer since application sent for a visa until the application is accepted and the visa is issued. We recommend applying for it well in advance once you have decided on your travel plans. If you are considering seeking employment in the U.S. or staying there for a long time, you can undergo prescreening with the Immigration Bureau to see if you satisfy the relevant conditions when applying for a visa. Contact the Immigration Bureau for details.

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updated:2018/9/28