Residents of many countries have to go through a rigid process in order to get a U.S. visa. However, things change dramatically when it comes to the citizens of the United Kingdom as they enjoy certain privileges regarding traveling to the U.S. The United Kingdom is also one of the countries that come under the Visa Waiver Program.
Do the Uk Residents Need a Visa to Enter the U.S.?
The citizens of the UK don’t need a visa to enter the U.S. since the United Kingdom is one of the 38 countries that participate in the visa waiver program. Citizens of these 38 countries just need a stamp on their passport which allows them to visit the U.S. However, it’s important to mention that not all UK residents hold citizenship. In this case, a UK resident might need a visa to enter the U.S.
Electronic System for Travel Authorization – ESTA
The Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) is an automated system established by the United States of America, which determines the eligibility of travelers to visit the USA, under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP).
To determine if you can apply for ESTA, use our ESTA eligibility checker:
ESTA Eligibility Checker
The Visa Waiver Program (VWP) is administered by the US Department of Homeland Security and permits the residents of 38 countries to travel to the USA for tourism and business for up to 90 days, with just a travel authorization. British citizens, with the unrestricted right of permanent abode in England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man, have been part of this list since 1988.
However, two categories of UK citizens are excluded from the eligibility to apply for a travel authorization:
- Those who have traveled to or been present in Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Syria, Libya, Somalia and Yemen on or after March 1, 2011 (with limited exceptions for travel for diplomatic or military purposes in the service of the UK).
- And those who are also nationals of Iran, Iraq, Sudan, or Syria.
However, the citizens of these 38 countries, including the United Kingdom, when traveling to the US for other reasons as employment or medical treatment, must apply for a regular visa as regulated by the US visa policy.
If you are a UK citizen whose travel authorization has been refused, despite applying several times, you will also have to apply for a regular visa, even if your purpose of the visit is business or tourism.
Choosing a Visa for the USA Based on the Purpose of Travel
If you are entering the US for non-business or tourism purposes, then you will need to apply for a visa even if you are a citizen of a VWP country. The US immigration authorities have established a number of visas depending on the reason behind one’s purpose to enter the country. The residents of the United Kingdom can apply for one of the types of visas as listed below:
A-1/A-2 Visa – Diplomats & Foreign Government Officials.
This type of visa applies to diplomats and other foreign British government officials entering the US with the purpose of engaging in official activities.
UK Residents Eligible for an A-1 visa:
- Head of UK government (Prime Minister), regardless of the purpose of travel
- Ambassador or Consul of the United Kingdom embassy or consulate in the United States
- UK government cabinet member or minister, traveling to the US with the purpose of engaging in official activities
- UK residents part of European Union delegation representatives
- Family members (spouse and unmarried sons and daughters) of a UK citizen, holder of a US A-1 visa
UK Residents Eligible for an A-2 visa:
- A full-time employee assigned by the UK government to work at its embassy or consulate in the US
- UK government official visiting the US with the purpose of performing government related duties
- UK military members assigned to work at the UK embassy or consulate in the US, or stationed at a US military base
- UK residents, the staff of a European Union delegation representatives
- Family members (spouse and unmarried sons and daughters) of a UK citizen, holder of a US A-1 visa
Keep in mind that aside from the Head of the government of the UK no other government official visiting the US for a non-official purpose is eligible for this visa type. Officials of local governments representing a local political entity are not eligible for this type of visa either.
A-3 Visa – Domestic Employee of an A-1/A-2 Visa holder
This is a visa established for the personal employees, attendants or domestic workers of the government officials and diplomats who hold a valid A-1 or A-2 visa.
B-1 Visa – Business visitors
United Kingdom residents who are not eligible to apply for travel authorization will have to apply for a B1 Visa. In order for one to be able to obtain this visa, he or she must fulfill the criteria listed below:
- Your business must be of a legitimate nature
- You plan to remain in the USA for a limited period of time
- You are financially capable to maintain yourself during the time you are staying in the US
- You have no intention of abandoning the UK and staying in the US a US A-2 visa
Under this visa, your spouse and children are not eligible to apply for a dependent visa.
B-1 Visa – Domestic Employee
The B-1 visa is for domestic or personal employees which may include cooks, nannies, butlers, chauffeurs, maids, gardeners, and paid companions who have to accompany an employer to the U.S. A major requirement is the documentation of a proper wage to the employee.
B-2 Visa – Holiday, tourism, medical treatment
The B2 visa is designed for visitors that wish to visit the United States, visit family, friends or relatives, for holidays, or enter the country to seek medical treatment. People applying for a B-2 visa must show evidence that they have strong relationships with the UK and that they do not intend to stay in the USA after their visas expire.
C-1 Visa – Transiting the United States
If you need to enter the United States en route to another country, but you don’t qualify for a Travel Authorization, you need to apply for a C – 1 Transit Visa. If you already possess a valid visitor visa, then you can use that to transit the U.S.
D Visa – Crew Members working on air or sea carriers
You must have a C-1/D visa in case you work as a crew member at an international sea carrier or airline that travels from the UK to the U.S.
American Visa Application Requirements
After you have selected the visa type you need to apply for, you should start gathering the documents that are required for that US visa. The commonly required documents are as follows:
- Confirmation page of the application form DS-160
- The appointment confirmation page (if applicable)
- Passport – valid for at least 6 months beyond your date of planned stay in the US. The passport must have at least one blank page in order to be able to affix visa.
- One photo – of 5 x 5 cm size, taken within the last 6 months. If you have successfully uploaded a picture to the DS-160 application form, then you are not required to submit an additional photo.
- Previous US visas – if you have visited the US before with an older passport, then you shall take it with you on the day of the interview at the embassy or consulate.
- ACRO – which is a police certificate you should submit if you have ever been arrested, cautioned or convicted.
- Letter from a physician, if you have a medical condition that could have a bearing on your eligibility for a visa.
- Invitation letter, if applying for a B-2 visa
- If you have ever been rejected for entry or deported from the US, you must also submit documents in this regard.
US Visa Application Process
After you have decided what type of US visa you need and you have collected the required documents, it’s time to apply. The US visa application will go through these simple steps:
- Fill in Form DS-160.
- Pay your application fee.
- Schedule visa interview.
- Attend the visa interview.
Fill in Form DS-160
You should complete the online application form DS-160 and then print the confirmation page. Take this page with you when you attend the interview. The application form contains questions about personal information as:
- Full name
- Marital Status
- Date & Place of Birth
- Mobile number
- Passport number
- Passport book number
- Family information
- Work, etc.
There are also a couple of questions on security and background information which include the questions listed below:
- Have you ever been arrested or convicted for any offense or crime, even though subject of a pardon, amnesty, or other similar action?
- Have you ever violated, or engaged in a conspiracy to violate, any law relating to controlled substances?
- Are you coming to the United States to engage in prostitution or unlawful commercialized vice or have you been engaged in prostitution or procuring prostitutes within the past 10 years?
- Have you ever been involved in, or do you seek to engage in money laundering?
- Do you seek to engage in espionage, sabotage, export control violations, or any other illegal activity while in the United States?
- Do you seek to engage in terrorist activities while in the United States or have you ever engaged in terrorist activities?
- Have you ever or do you intend to provide financial assistance or other support to terrorists or terrorist organizations?
- Are you a member or representative of a terrorist organization?
- Have you ever ordered, incited, committed, assisted, or otherwise participated in genocide?
Pay your application fee and schedule the interview
Go to https://ais.usvisa-info.com/en-gb and pay the Machine Readable Visa (MRV) application fee and schedule an interview. You can do that by following these steps:
- Create a user account
- Enter the DS-160 confirmation number you have received in your email after completing the form
- Complete the courier document return process
- Pay the application fee
- Schedule an appointment for an interview
The MRV Fee for visa applicants depends on the type of visa one applies for. The schedule is tiered as follows:
- MRV Fee – $160
- Petition Based Applicants (H, L, O, P, Q, R) – $190
- E-1, E-2 & E-3 visa applicants – $205
Attend the Visa Interview
All applicants from the age of 14 to the age of 79 that apply for a USA visa from the UK, have to appear in person at the US consulate or embassy for the interview. Applicants under 14 and over 80 are eligible to apply by a courier.
Show up on time, since arriving too late may result in the cancellation of your appointment. Get yourself ready to be at the embassy or consulate where you apply for around two to three hours, because of the processes. Have all your documents with you, and nicely organized.
Before you attend the interview, the embassy/consulate staff will collect, data enter and examine your application documents. You will have to get your fingerprints scanned, and then you will have a few-minutes-short interview with a consular officer.
Application Processing Time
Successful applications typically don’t take more than three to five workdays to get approved, Despite that, sometimes the application processing may take up to 6 months or even longer. Your passport will remain at the embassy while your application is being processed. After the approval or rejection of your visa, the embassy or consulate will deliver your passport. You cannot collect your passport by yourself.
What to do in Case of Visa Denial?
In the case of visa denial, the applicant will not be able to get the fee back. However, you can reapply in the future by submitting a new application and paying the visa fee again.
If you don’t want your application to get rejected for the same reason again, you should produce proof of changes in the circumstances in order to ensure approval.