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The presumption in the law is that every visitor visa applicant is an intending immigrant.  Therefore, applicants for visitor visas must overcome this presumption by demonstrating that:

  • The purpose of their trip is to enter the U.S. for business, pleasure, or medical treatment;
  • That they plan to remain for a specific, limited period;
  • Evidence of funds to cover expenses in the United States;
  • Evidence of compelling social and economic ties abroad; and
  • That they have a residence outside the U.S. as well as other binding ties which will insure their return abroad at the end of the visit.

When making an application for a B visa at a U.S. Consulate, or when applying for admission at the Port of Entry to the United States as a visitor, applicants will need to satisfy Consular Officers and/or Immigration Officers that they are entering the United States for activities that are allowed for persons entering in this visa status. 

Misrepresentation of a Material Facts, or Fraud
Attempting to obtain a visa by the willful misrepresentation of a material fact, or fraud, may result in the permanent refusal of a visa or denial of entry into the United States.

Staying Beyond Your Authorized Stay in the U.S. and Being Out of Status
You should carefully consider the dates of your authorized stay and make sure you are following the procedures under United States immigration laws.  The visa stamp/sticker in your passport does not control your ability to remain in the United States - your Arrival-Departure Record/I-94 card (issued at entry) is the controlling document.  It is important that you depart the United States on or before the last day you are authorized to be in the United States on any given trip, based on the specified end date on your Arrival-Departure Record/Form I-94.  Failure to depart the U.S. (or take appropriate action to extend your authorized stay in the U.S.) is a violation of U.S. immigration laws, and can have serious consequences.


Most Canadian citizens and many citizens from Visa Waiver Program countries can come to the U.S. without a visa if they meet certain requirements.  Visa Waiver travelers must present an appropriate passport at the U.S. port of entry to enter the U.S. without a visa, otherwise a U.S. visa is required (see information below).  In addition, the Department of Homeland Security also requires Visa Waiver Program travelers to complete the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (“ESTA”) application (see information below) PRIOR to boarding a flight to the United States. 

The Visa Waiver Program (“VWP”) enables nationals of certain countries to travel to the United States for tourism or business for stays of 90 days or less without obtaining a visa.  VWP eligible travelers may apply for a visa, if they prefer to do so.  Not all countries participate in the VWP, and not all travelers from VWP countries are eligible to use the program.  However, the purposes for which a VWP applicant may enter the United States for business purposes are the same as those for the B-1 Business Visa Applicant.  No changes of nonimmigrant status or extensions of time are permissible for those persons in the United States under the visa waiver category.

A full list of current countries authorized to participate in the VWP is available here: or here:

Passport Requirements
You must have a passport that is valid for at least 6 months after your planned departure from the United States (unless exempted by country-specific agreements). For families, each member of your family, including infants and children, must have his/her own passport.

You must have an e-Passport to use the VWP.  An e-Passport is an enhanced secure passport with an embedded electronic chip.  The chip can be scanned to match the identity of the traveler to the passport. E-Passports are issued by the proper passport issuing authority and must be in compliance with standards set by the International Civil Aviation Organization.  You can readily identify an e-Passport, because it has a unique international symbol on the cover.

ESTA Application
The Department of Homeland Security, Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) is a free, automated system used to determine the eligibility of visitors to travel to the United States under the VWP. It collects the same information as the paper I-94W form that VWP travelers fill out en route to the United States. ESTA applications may be submitted at any time prior to travel. An ESTA authorization generally will be valid for up to two years. Authorizations will be valid for multiple entries into the United States. DHS recommends that travelers submit an ESTA application as soon as they begin making travel plans.

ESTA applications may be completed online at the official DHS website: