Visa Types

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Generally, a citizen of a foreign country who wishes to enter the United States must first obtain a visa, either a nonimmigrant visa for temporary stay or an immigrant visa for permanent residence. Citizens of qualified countries may be able to visit the U.S. without a visa under the Visa Waiver Program. All travelers coming to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program must obtain authorization through the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) system prior to initiating travel to the United States.

If you do not qualify for the Visa Waiver Program or are traveling to study, work, participate in an exchange program, or any other purpose that does not fall under a B visa purpose of travel, you will need a nonimmigrant visa.

A visa does not guarantee entry to the United States. A visa simply indicates that a U.S. consular officer has determined that you are eligible to apply for entry to the United States for a specific purpose.

Nonimmigrant Visas

A nonimmigrant visa is used by tourists, business people, students, or specialty workers who wish to stay for a particular period of time in the United States to accomplish specific purposes. According to U.S. visa laws and regulations, most nonimmigrant visa applicants must demonstrate to the consular officer that they have strong ties to their country of residence and must show that they intend to depart the United States after their temporary stay.

Lost or Stolen Passports

If your visa is lost or stolen, please contact and take the following steps:

  1. Obtain a police report, known in Spanish as Reporte de Extravío or Denuncia de Robo from the local police, or Policía Nacional Civil.
  2. Obtain a new passport.
  3. Click here to schedule an appointment to apply for a new visa. If you have urgent travel, please review the Apply for an Expedited Appointment section.
  4. Appear for your visa appointment. Click here for information about the various visa classes and the required and optional documentation for each.