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Visa for New York

Updated: Aug 24, 2023  | Tags: USA Visa, USA Visa Application, USA Visa Requirements

Information on visiting New York and applying for a visa or ESTA.

One of the most iconic cities in the world, New York City beckons travelers with its skyline, culture, and endless possibilities. But before you can bite into the Big Apple, there's the matter of securing the appropriate travel documentation. For most international travelers, this means either applying for an Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) or a visa.

If you're interested in a visa for New York, or an ESTA visa waiver, then this short article will provide you with information needed for your relevant application.

ESTA or Visa: What Do You Need?

ESTA (Visa Waiver Program)

The Visa Waiver Program (VWP) was intended to make it easier for passport holders of certain countries to enter New York without applying for a visa. Currently, there are 41 countries that are members of the Visa Waiver Program. Individuals wishing to visit New York for under 90 days, for either tourism purposes, business purposes, transit purposes or receiving medical treatment may be eligible. The ESTA visa waiver is issued for up to two years' validity, or the date of passport expiry, whichever comes first.

Approved Business Purposes with ESTA

  • Consult with Business Associates
  • Attend a scientific, educational, professional, or business convention or conference
  • Attend short-term training (you may not be paid from any source in New York except for expenses incidental to your stay)
  • Negotiate a contract

Approved Tourism Purposes with ESTA

  • Tourism
  • Vacation (holiday)
  • Visit with friends or relatives
  • Medical treatment
  • Participation in social events hosted by fraternal, social, or service organizations
  • Participation by amateurs in music, sports, or similar events or contests, if not being paid for participating Enrollment in a short recreational course of study, not for credit toward a degree (for example, a two-day cooking class while on vacation)

Travel purposes that are not permitted under the Visa Waiver Program

  • Study, for credit
  • Employment
  • Work as foreign press, radio, film, journalists, or other information media
  • Permanent residence in the United States

How to apply for ESTA

  1. Submit your ESTA application online. This usually takes 20-30 minutes per applicant.
  2. Fill in the required details including biographical information and passport data.
  3. Pay the ESTA government fee.
  4. Wait for approval, which can sometimes be instantaneous but can also take up to 72 hours.

U.S. Visa

If you are not eligible for an ESTA Visa Waiver, or wish to stay in New York for more than 90 days, you will need a B1 Business Visa, B2 Tourist Visa or B1-B2 Visitor Visa. There are different categories of visitor Visa, which are classified in accordance to the purpose of the visit.

  1. Category B1 - Business purposes, conducting meetings, settling an estate.
  2. Category B2 - Tourism, holiday, leisure and other visiting purposes.

How to apply for a U.S. Visa

To apply for a visa, there are set number of steps which need to be followed. Sometimes, the course of these instructions may vary depending on the country from where you are applying.

  1. Fill up the online visa application - First of all, you have to complete the online visa application form DS-160. After filling the application successfully, you land on the confirmation page; you need to take a printout of this confirmation page. The printout is mandatory to bring in an interview.
  2. Schedule an interview - You need to schedule an appointment for your U.S. Visa interview at the US embassy or consulate in your native country. After that you have to wait for your call by the visa officer. There is no fixed time of when you will get a call from the U.S. embassy or consulate. Call time depends on many factors such as your location, seasonality and visa category. Therefore, you must apply for the visa in advance.
  3. Maintain the mandatory documents - a) Valid Passport, b) Form DS 160 confirmation Page, c) Application fee payment receipt, d) Photo
  4. Embassy Interview / Appointment - After examining you in the interview, the consulate or embassy representative will decide whether you qualified or not. After your visa interview, you may need to provide more documents, if asked. So be prepared for it.
  5. Obtain approved U.S. Visa - After the approval of your Visa, you will receive your passport and visa via courier or you can opt to pick up your documents at a nearby U.S. embassy.

Must-See New York Attractions

Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island

No visit to New York would be complete without seeing these symbols of American freedom and immigration. You can take a ferry from Battery Park to both islands. Tickets can be bought in advance online.

Times Square

This bustling commercial and entertainment hub is famous for its theaters, shopping, and the annual New Year's Eve ball drop. It's a must-visit, at least once.

Central Park

An oasis in the midst of Manhattan's concrete jungle, Central Park offers a multitude of recreational opportunities from boating to attending live performances.


For theater lovers, catching a Broadway show is practically a requirement. From classics like "Phantom of the Opera" to modern hits like "Hamilton," there’s something for everyone.

The Museums

The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) are just two of the city’s outstanding cultural institutions. Both offer comprehensive collections of art and artifacts from around the world.

Empire State Building

For panoramic views of the city, head to the top of this iconic skyscraper. The observatory on the 86th floor offers unparalleled vistas, especially at sunset.


Whether it’s your first time visiting or you're a seasoned traveler, New York City has something to offer everyone. However, before embarking on your journey, it's crucial to secure the appropriate travel documentation through either an ESTA or a visa. Once that’s in place, the city's array of iconic landmarks, cultural institutions, and unique neighborhoods await your discovery. With proper planning, your trip to New York can be an unforgettable experience.