USA Visitors Travel

 

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Main Nonimmigrant Visa Categories

(For a temporary stay in the United States.)

  • Visa Category B-1: For those entering the U.S. for business purposes.
  • Visa Category B-2: For those entering the U.S. for tourism, vacation, or to visit friends and family.
  • Visa Category B-1/B-2: For those entering the U.S. for a combination of the above reasons.

Traveling to the U.S. for work? Learn how to get a work visa.

Traveling to the U.S. as an international student? Visit our "International Student Travel" page.

How to Apply for a U.S. Visitor Visa

  • Step One: Determine whether you’re eligible for the Visa Waiver Program, which allows citizens and nationals of certain countries to stay in the U.S. for up to 90 days without a visa.
  • Step Two: If you're not eligible, fill out the nonimmigrant visa application form "Form DS-160." Print the confirmation page and bring it to your interview.
  • Step Three: Schedule your visa interview at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in your home country and start prepping. You'll also need to pay your issuance fee.
  • Step Four: Gather your valid passport, Form DS-160 confirmation page, application fee payment receipt, and photo and bring them to your interview!

Communicating with Locals

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One thing Americans highly value: their personal space! When chatting, it's best to stand several feet away (and refrain from touching people you don't know well).

Upon initially meeting someone, a firm handshake is typically preferred.

Common Greetings

  • Hi! / Hey!
  • How are you? / How's it going?
  • What's up?

Welcome Topics of Conversation: Work, sports, travel, food, music, movies, and books.

Topics to Avoid: Unless you know someone very well, it's best to avoid topics of politics, religion, and other controversial subjects and to avoid making ethnic, religious, or sexual jokes.

Common Gestures

  • Nodding your head up and down means "yes" and shaking your head from side to side means "no."
  • Thumbs up means "good job" or "it's all good."
  • A beckoning arm or hand wave means "come here."



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Navigating an unfamiliar transportation system can be a daunting task. Here are some of your best options for hassle-free transit:

Bus/Subway/Metro/Streetcar System

Larger cities typically offer a bus system (and sometimes a subway or metro system). One trip typically costs $2-$3.

Passes can be purchased at the vending machines located inside the terminal (or you may be able to purchase online).

Train

Amtrak is the sole intercity passenger railroad operating to over 500 destinations. Tickets vary by seat and distance and can be purchased one way or round trip online, by phone, onboard, or at a kiosk.

Taxi

Taxis can be flagged down or requested by phone. They charge a metered fee that's typically payable by cash or card (it's customary to tip 15%). Popular mobile-app-based alternatives include Uber and Lyft.

Bike

Many large cities also offer bike rental or bikeshare programs. Be sure to use bike-specific trails or specified bike lanes and to obey all traffic signals.


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Here are just a few basic concepts to keep in mind as you travel throughout the United States:

Currency

  • The currency is U.S. dollars (USD). Dollar bills are available in $1, $5, $10, $20, $50, and $100 denominations.
  • Coins are available in 1¢
    (penny), 5¢ (nickel), 10¢ (dime), and 25¢ (quarter) denominations. One dollar is equivalent to 100 cents.
  • Most credit cards and debit cards are widely accepted.

Phone System

  • Local & regional calls: Dial the 3-digit area code, then the 7-digit number
  • Long-distance calls: Dial "1," then the 3-digit area code, then the 7-digit number
  • International calls: Dial "011," then the country area code, then the city area code, then the number
  • The emergency number is 911

Electrical Outlets

  • Plugs: Type A and B
  • Voltage and frequency: 120 V / 60 Hz 

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Follow these tips to navigate cultural differences with ease:

  • Be punctual: Strive to be a few minutes early for a class, dinner, or appointment. Apologize if you are late!
  • Respect privacy: Don't be too friendly or personal with somebody too soon.
  • Follow social etiquette: Say "please" when asking someone to do something for you and "thank you" when someone makes an effort for you. If someone greets you, it's polite to respond in a similar fashion. And if you bump into someone, it's customary to say "I'm sorry" or "excuse me."
  • Follow dining etiquette: It is considered impolite to chew with your mouth open, to talk while chewing, or to make excessive noise while eating. In the U.S., it's perfectly okay to finish all the food on your plate!
  • Tip for service: Because minimum wage for tipped employees is just $2.13 an hour in many parts of the U.S., tipping is a recommended practice. We suggest 15-20% for servers, cab drivers, hair stylists, etc. and $1-$3 for bellhops, valets, housekeeping, etc.
Learn how to overcome culture shock!

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Safety should always be a top priority— especially when you're traveling an unfamiliar country.

To prepare for your visit to the U.S., read up on the culture and always practice the following safety tips:

  • Do not accept rides from strangers.
  • If possible, avoid walking alone at night.
  • Don't carry more money than you need.
  • Stay alert to your surroundings when using an ATM.
  • Keep your bags and wallet closed and on your lap on public transit.
  • Follow all traffic laws and wait for the crosswalk signal at busy intersections.
  • If you are drinking, stay with trusted friends and remain aware of your surroundings.
  • Bring a spare credit card, emergency cash, and copies of important travel documents and keep them in a safe place.
  • Be sure to abide by the laws for your destination. If you encounter police, be respectful and follow their instructions.
  • A travel medical insurance policy can provide quality medical care and financial help if you become unexpectedly injured or ill.

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