Visa for Hollywood, California USA
Updated: Aug 25, 2023
Lights, camera, action! Hollywood, often termed as the entertainment capital of the world, beckons tourists from across the globe. Known for its iconic Hollywood sign, Walk of Fame, and the dream factory that is the American film industry, Hollywood is a locale that promises glamour, history, and a whole lot of fun. But before you can rub elbows with the wax statues of stars or take that classic picture in front of the Hollywood Sign, there's some administrative work to be done. Specifically, you'll need either an Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) or a U.S. Visa. This article aims to guide you through the application process for each, as well as spotlight some can't-miss Hollywood attractions.
The Essentials: ESTA or Visa?
Both the ESTA and Visa aim to facilitate travel to the United States, but they're suited for different circumstances. Here's a quick rundown:
Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA)
An ESTA (short for Electronic System for Travel Authorization) is a digital travel document that allows citizens of certain countries to enter the United States in transit or remain in the country for up to 90 days without having to apply for a visa. ESTAs are only issued for tourism or business visits and are available to citizens of countries that participate in the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). It's also worth noting that an ESTA does not guarantee entry into the USA, as it only provides an initial screening and first-stage security clearance. On the other hand, citizens from countries that do not participate in the Visa Waiver Program must apply for a visa to enter the U.S., as they are not eligible for ESTA.
Applying for an ESTA:
- Eligibility Check: First, ascertain if you're a citizen of one of the 41 VWP countries. Your passport must be valid for at least six months from your planned departure date from the U.S.
- Online Application: Fill out your online application by completing all the ESTA form questions. The questions are straightforward, encompassing identification, passport, travel details and current employer information.
- Processing Fee: Payment of the government fee via credit card, debit card or PayPal is required prior to submitting an ESTA application.
- Approval: ESTA approval is usually granted quickly, often within minutes. However, it's recommended to apply at least 72 hours before your travel.
- Validity: Remember, an ESTA approval is not a guarantee of admission into the U.S. Entry is ultimately determined by Customs and Border Protection officers at the port of entry.
U.S. Tourist Visa (B-2)
If you're not from a VWP country, were denied an ESTA, or if your trip exceeds 90 days, you'll need to go the Visa route. The most commonly issued non-immigrant visas are the B-2 Tourist Visa or B-1 Business Visa. There are several other categories of U.S. visas to explore based on your travel or immigration purposes.
Applying for a Visa:
- DS-160 Form: Start by completing the DS-160 form online, which forms the basis of your application.
- Fee Payment: Pay the non-refundable visa application fee of $185. Payment of this fee is required to schedule an embassy appointment.
- Interview Scheduling: Next, schedule an interview at your nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate.
- Document Gathering: For the interview, bring your valid passport, DS-160 confirmation, paid fee receipt, and proof of your ability to financially sustain your trip.
- Approval Time: After the interview, processing times can vary from a few days to several weeks. Planning well in advance is advisable.
Top Attractions in Hollywood
Once you've got your travel authorization sorted, here's a list of the places you simply can't miss in Hollywood:
- Hollywood Walk of Fame: One of the most iconic attractions, the Walk of Fame allows you to 'walk' among the stars. Each star in the sidewalk honors a celebrity in the categories of film, TV, radio, music, and theatre.
- Hollywood Sign: Visible from multiple vantage points throughout the city, a trip to the Hollywood Sign is almost a rite of passage for tourists.
- TCL Chinese Theatre: This historic movie palace on Hollywood Boulevard is notable for its grand exterior and the celebrity hand and footprints in the forecourt.
- Dolby Theatre: Home to the Academy Awards, you can take a guided tour of this iconic venue.
Museums and Tours
- Hollywood Museum: This museum offers an extensive collection of Hollywood memorabilia, including costumes, posters, and props.
- Studio Tours: Places like Universal Studios offer behind-the-scenes glimpses of some of Hollywood's biggest productions.
Nightlife and Shopping
- Hollywood and Highland Center: This is a shopping haven and a bustling hub for entertainment.
- Nightclubs and Bars: From the classic to the modern, Hollywood boasts a vibrant nightlife for those looking to continue the adventure after sundown.
- Griffith Observatory: For panoramic views of Los Angeles, including the Hollywood Sign and Downtown L.A., Griffith Observatory is the place to go.
- Runyon Canyon: For those looking for a nature break, this park offers hiking trails with stunning views of the city.
In summary, Hollywood promises a mix of glamour, history, and scenic beauty, making it an all-rounded tourist destination. Whether you opt for an ESTA or a Visa, either pathway will lead you to the heart of America's entertainment industry. So, prepare your documents, clear those immigration hurdles, and get ready to live your Hollywood dream.