Whether you’re planning to travel to the U.S. for transit, tourism or work, a visa is required. There are several categories of visa, with different periods of validity depending on the purpose of the trip. In this article, our experts explain the different validity periods and tell you about the alternative to a visa: ESTA.


There is a wide variety of USA visas, divided into 12 categories. Within each category, there are sub-categories adapted to each case (length of stay; purpose of stay: business, tourism, transit; personal and professional situation). Each U.S. visa is valid for a specific period. Here are a few examples:

Trip objectiveVisaPeriod of validity
Tourist visa (travel)B2Every 6 months for 10 years
Business (business travel )B1Every 6 months for 10 years
Transit through the USAC29 days
Crew member (air and sea)D29 days
Studies (student visas) F and MVisa granted to study in the USA. You have 60 days’ grace to travel at the end of your studies.
Internship in the USAJ1Duration 18 months
3 J1 visa categories: Intern, Trainee, Work ad Travel
Work (reserved for qualified employees)H1B3 years
H1B visa holder’s family (spouse and children under 21)H43 years
Agricultural employee (seasonal workers, temporary workers)H2A1 year
Individual with extraordinary skillsO3 years
Wife of an American citizenK16 months

To obtain one of these visas, you need to go to the American embassy, as there is no such thing as an online visa (except for the ESTA visa waiver). You will be asked to complete a visa file with several documents such as :

If you wish to become a permanent resident of the United States of America, we advise you to apply for a green card. You can obtain a green card by participating in the green card lottery.


Since 2010, you’ve been able to visit the USA without a visa. However, you will need to obtain an ESTA. This is a travel authorization created as part of the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), a visa waiver program designed to facilitate trade with the USA. Nationals of member countries travelling to the USA for tourism, business or transit purposes are exempt from visa requirements. The countries concerned are as follows: Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brunei, Chile, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom and Taiwan.

The ESTA visa has a maximum validity of 2 years and is valid for travel of up to 90 days. During the 2-year period, travelers can visit Uncle Sam’s country as many times as they like. Of course, each trip must not exceed 90 days.

What’s more, applying for ESTA authorization is much simpler than for a visa. You must fill out an online form on the U.S. government website. The latter, although very simple to complete, must be filled in meticulously to avoid making mistakes. Unfortunately, a simple mistake could be enough to have your ESTA refused, as the American authorities are extremely intransigent. For the ESTA procedure, it is very important to have a valid passport, i.e. an electronic or biometric passport covering your entire stay.

An old-generation passport, the optical passport is not valid for travel within the United States. If you already have one, you will need to apply for a new passport at your local town hall, before starting your ESTA authorization application. A photo and your passport number are required.

If you wish, you can also call on our partner to help you fill in the ESTA form, and correct any errors before submitting the form.

If, unfortunately, your ESTA application has been rejected, you will need to apply for a visa with the appropriate validity period from the US embassy or consulate general if you still wish to stay in the USA.