Visa for Los Angeles, California USA
Updated: Aug 25, 2023
Los Angeles, a city synonymous with entertainment, luxury, and breathtaking landscapes, is a dream destination for many travelers worldwide. Whether you're flying in to try your luck in Hollywood, relax on Venice Beach, or explore the art scene, one thing's certain: you have to get through the U.S. immigration process first. In this article, we'll explore how to apply for an Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) or a Visa for your trip to Los Angeles and highlight some must-see attractions in the city.
ESTA or Visa: What's the right choice for you?
Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA)
The U.S. ESTA is a visa waiver, and it is an automated system used to determine the eligibility of individuals to travel to the U.S. under the Visa Waiver Program. If you are from a list of 41 countries (listed at the end of this paragraph) then you can apply for an ESTA. This gives you permission to stay for up to 90 days on a temporary basis within the U.S. The ESTA can be used without having to apply for a visa. The purpose of the ESTA application allows multiple visits to the U.S. of under 90 consecutive days and allows more freedom on a short notice completely avoiding the need to apply for the conventional visa. If you are from one of the following countries then you are eligible to apply for a U.S. ESTA: Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brunei, Chile, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Malta, San Marino, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, United Kingdom.
Steps to apply for an ESTA
- Check Your Eligibility: You must have a passport from a VWP-eligible country that is valid for at least six months beyond your intended departure date.
- Online Application: Fill in the application form by completing all the required information. It will ask for details like your personal information, passport number, and current employer.
- Pay the Fee: A non-refundable goverment fee is payable by credit or debit card.
- Await Approval: Authorization often comes through within minutes, but it’s advisable to apply at least 72 hours before you plan to travel.
- Review: ESTA approval does not guarantee entry into the U.S. It's just pre-authorization; final permission is granted by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection immigration officers upon arrival.
For those not eligible for the ESTA, the next route is obtaining a B-2 Tourist Visa or B-1 Business Visa. Although there are several more categories of U.S. visas, the B-1 and B-2 are the most commonly issued for tourism and business purposes.
Steps to apply for a U.S. Visa
- Complete Form DS-160: The Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application form DS-160 must be filled out first.
- Pay the Fee: The application fee of $185 is payable at the time of scheduling the embassy appointment.
- Schedule an Interview: After payment, you’ll need to book an interview at your nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.
- Attend the Interview: Go to the interview with all required documentation, including a valid passport, photographs, and proof of financial sustainability.
- Wait for the Outcome: Processing times can vary, and there’s no guarantee of approval. Therefore, it’s advised to apply well in advance.
Must-Visit Attractions in Los Angeles
Once you have your travel documentation in order, you can set your sights on the fantastic experiences that await you in Los Angeles.
- Hollywood Walk of Fame: Walk along Hollywood Boulevard and discover over 2,600 brass stars embedded in the sidewalks, honoring celebrities from the entertainment world.
- Hollywood Sign: A trip to LA isn’t complete without a glimpse (or a selfie) with this iconic landmark. Griffith Park offers some of the best viewpoints.
- Santa Monica Beach: Known for its iconic pier with an amusement park, this beach is perfect for swimming, sunbathing, and people-watching.
- Venice Beach: Famous for its bohemian spirit, Venice Beach is great for skateboarding, shopping for quirky items, or simply enjoying the vibrant street performances.
Museums and Art
- The Getty Center: This massive museum offers a diverse art collection, stunning architecture, and panoramic views of the city.
- Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA): Home to over 150,000 works, it's the largest art museum in the western United States.
Food and Nightlife
- Grand Central Market: A downtown landmark since 1917, it offers a variety of cuisines, from Italian to Japanese and everything in-between.
- Sunset Strip: This 1.5-mile stretch is legendary for its nightlife, including historic music venues like The Roxy and Whisky a Go Go.
Parks and Outdoors
- Griffith Park: Covering over 4,300 acres, it's one of the largest urban parks in North America, offering hiking, horseback riding, and the Griffith Observatory for celestial observations.
- Runyon Canyon: For those looking to combine a workout with celebrity spotting, this popular hiking trail offers stunning views and a dog-friendly policy.
Los Angeles is a city that offers something for everyone - from the glamour of Hollywood to the laid-back beaches and a rich cultural tapestry. To enjoy what the city has to offer, ensure you have the proper travel authorization, whether that's an ESTA or a Visa. With those logistics sorted, the City of Angels is yours to explore.