A reciprocal visa-waiver program applies to citizens of certain countries, who may enter the US for stays of 90 days or fewer without having to obtain a visa. Currently these countries are Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brunei, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Monaco, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the UK. ***For information on the updated requirements for the Visa Waiver Program see the US Visa section of this website.***
The main portal for US visa information is www.unitedstatesvisas.gov; this website is comprehensive, providing forms, contact information for US consulates abroad and even visa wait times calculated by country. The US State Department (www.travel.state.gov) also maintains comprehensive visa information.
As the US continues to fine-tune its national security guidelines, US entry requirements keep evolving as well. It is imperative that visitors double- and triple-check current regulations before coming to the country.
Tourists using visas are usually granted a six-month stay on first arrival. If you try to extend that time, the first assumption will be that you are working illegally, so come prepared with concrete evidence that you’ve been behaving like a model tourist: receipts to demonstrate you’ve been spending lots of your money from home in the US or ticket stubs that show you’ve been traveling extensively. Requests for visa extensions in Chicago are entertained at the office of US Citizenship & Immigration Services (800-375-5283; www.uscis.gov; Suite 600, Kluczynski Bldg, Chicago Federal Center, 10 W Jackson Blvd; Red, Blue Line to Jackson). Meetings are all by appointment only, though, and to make an appointment, you have to visit the fine, robotic folks at infopass.uscis.gov. Be sure to get the paperwork moving well before your visa expires.