What travel documents and identification are required to enter the U.S.?
A foreign national visitor entering the U.S. is generally required to present a passport and valid visa issued by a U.S. Consular Official, unless they are a citizen of a country eligible for the Visa Waiver Program, or are a citizen of Canada.Travelers using the Visa Waiver Program must have a valid Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) approval prior to travel and meet all requirements. See Visa Waiver Program for requirement details.
The Visa Waiver Program allows foreign national visitors from certain countries to be admitted to the U.S. under limited conditions and for a limited time without obtaining a visa. A foreign national visitor must arrive on an approved carrier (if coming by air or sea), staying no more than 90 days, for pleasure/medical purposes/business, and be able to prove they are not inadmissible.
To obtain a list of countries eligible and VWP passport requirements for the Visa Waiver Program, please visit https://www.dhs.gov/visa-waiver-program-requirements.
NOTE: All travelers transiting the United States are subject to the U.S. customs/immigration laws.
If you prefer to have a visa in your passport, you may still apply for visitor (B) visa.
A visa and passport are not required of a Mexican national who is in possession of a Form DSP-150, B-1/B-2 Visa and Border Crossing Card, containing a machine-readable biometric identifier, issued by the Department of State and is applying for admission as a temporary visitor for business or pleasure from contiguous territory by land or sea.
The Border Crossing Card (BCC) is acceptable as a stand-alone document (by itself) only for travel from Mexico by land, or by pleasure vessel or ferry. Together with a valid passport, though, it meets the documentary requirements for entry at all land, air, and sea ports of entry (to include travel from Canada). Note: You must be a Mexican citizen and a resident of Mexico to have a BCC.
Visitors traveling to the U.S. are required to be in possession of passports that are valid for six months beyond the period of their intended stay in the U.S. See list of countries exempt from the six month requirement (click on the Six-Month Club Update PDF link).