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Entry to the USA

If you do not have a Green Card, you will need either a valid ESTA or an appropriate US visa to enter the USA, depending on the purpose and duration of your stay.

What is ESTA?

ESTA is an electronic entry permit that allows you to enter the USA without a visa under certain conditions. With an ESTA, you can stay in the United States of America for up to 90 days for a vacation or business trip.

The application can only be done online and is processed after a maximum of 72 hours. It is also significantly cheaper than a visitor visa.

ESTA or Visa?

For your stay in the USA, you must apply for a US visa unless you meet the visa-free entry requirements with ESTA.

You can not travel with ESTA, if:

  • You intend to stay in the US for more than 90 days.
  • You are a citizen of a country that is not eligible for the so-called Visa Waiver Program.
  • You are a dual national of Iran, Iraq, Syria, or Sudan.
  • You have traveled to Iraq, Iran, Yemen, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, or Syria after March 1st, 2011.
  • You are not traveling by air or sea.
  • You would like to work in the USA.
  • You would like to study in the USA.

If any of these apply to you, you will need to apply for a non-immigrant visa before traveling to the United States.

What are non-immigrant visas?

Whether you are a tourist, a business traveler, an employee of a company with a location in the USA, an au pair, a student, a pupil, or an intern - depending on the reason for entry, a different US visa is available for you.

These so-called non-immigrant visas entitle you to stay in the USA for a limited time and for a specific purpose. The reason for your trip to the USA must therefore correspond to the visa category for which you are applying.

For example, if you apply for a so-called visitor visa, you must prove to the US authorities that you are only traveling for touristy purposes.

What is an immigrant visa?

An immigrant visa allows you to stay in the USA for an unlimited period. It is also an unrestricted work permit. With the Green Card (officially called Lawful Permanent Resident Card), you get almost all the rights of a US citizen and can therefore enter the USA as often as you want in a much-simplified way.

US Visa Service

Applying for a US visa involves time-consuming steps, which is why we focus on personal customer service and close cooperation.

Our sister company, The American Dream - US Visa Service GmbH, helps private and corporate clients find the right visa and quickly process it.

If you are unsure which visa you need, our US Visa Service will be happy to help you.

Contact the US Visa Service