Entry & Exit Formalities
Each person over 21 years old is allowed to bring 1L of liquor and 200 cigarettes duty-free into the USA. Non-US citizens are allowed to bring $100 worth of duty-free gifts. If you're carrying over $10,000 in US and foreign cash, traveler's checks or money orders, you must declare the excess amount – undeclared sums in excess of $10,000 may be subject to confiscation.
Canadian citizens currently only need proof of identity and citizenship to enter the US – but check the US Department of State for updates, as requirements may change.
Visa Waiver Program
USA Visa Waiver Program (VWP) allows nationals from 38 countries to enter the US without a visa, provided they are carrying a machine-readable e-passport (with an embedded chip). For the updated list of countries included in the program and current requirements, see the US Customs & Border Protection (https://www.cbp.gov/travel/international-visitors) website.
Citizens of VWP countries need to register with the US Department of Homeland Security (https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov/esta) three days before their visit. There is a $14 fee for registration application.
You must obtain a visa from a US embassy or consulate in your home country if any of the following apply to you:
- You do not currently hold a passport from a VWP country.
- You are from a VWP country but don't have a machine-readable passport, aka an e-passport.
- You plan to stay longer than 90 days.
- You intend to work or study in the US.
Foreign visitors are not legally allowed to work in the USA without the appropriate working visa. The most common, the H visa, can be difficult to obtain. It usually requires a sponsoring organization, such as the company you will be working for in the US. The company will need to demonstrate why you, rather than a US citizen, are most qualified for the job.
The type of work visa you need depends on your work:
H visa For temporary workers.
L visa For employees in intracompany transfers.
O visa For workers with extraordinary abilities.
P visa For athletes and entertainers.
Q visa For international cultural-exchange visitors.