A visa is issued by a U.S. Embassy or Consulate. A visa entitles the holder to travel to the United States and apply for admission; it does not guarantee entry. An immigration inspector at the port of entry determines the visa holder's eligibility for admission into the United States.
Who needs a visa?
Anyone who is not eligible to enter the United States visa free under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). Gambian citizens are not eligible for the VWP, and must apply for a visa.
Please note: Travelers born in the United States and those who hold dual citizenship with the United States must enter and depart the United States on U.S. passports.
ESTA Surcharge for Visa Waiver Program Travellers
ESTA is an automated system that determines the eligibility of visitors to travel to the U.S. under the Visa Waiver Program and is required for all VWP travelers prior to boarding a carrier to travel by air or sea to the United States. ESTA is charging a fee of US $14.00 to all Visa Waiver Program (VWP) travelers. ESTA registration is valid for a two-year period. Travelers who have vaild existing registrations do not need to re-register unless the traveler's passport expires within the two-year period. The fee is payable by credit card at the ESTA website: http://cbp.gov/xp/cgov/travel/id_visa/esta/.
Click here if you wish to learn more about nonimmigrant visas to the United States.
Click here if you wish to learn more about immigrant visas to the United States.
Click here if you wish to learn more about the Diversity Visa program.
Apply Early: Recent changes in U.S. visa laws and regulations have increased the amount of time it can take to get a visa. Stricter security measures require more thorough checks and lengthen the visa application process but ensure the safety of visitors and U.S. citizens alike.
Even with significant improvements being made in speeding up visa processing, it is inevitable that delays will sometimes occur. Therefore, it is important to apply as early as possible for your visa and to avoid booking non-refundable travel until after a visa is issued.
The Consular Section has received reports of visa scams apparently emanating from The Gambia. These scams involve promises of a U.S. visa if the victim wires money for one. Many of the complaints we have received involve perpetrators who claim to be the former U.S. Ambassador to The Gambia, Edward Alford. The victims are often in Pakistan. They receive emails full of spelling and grammatical errors promising them a visa if they send money to The Gambia. When the victim wires money, the scammer sends an email scan image of a fake U.S. visa to the recipient. It is not a legally valid visa, and the holder will not be able to travel with it.
We wish to emphasize that these visa promises are scams for the purpose of stealing money from the victims. No U.S. Embassy or Consulate sells visas over email, and the U.S. Embassy in The Gambia would not issue visas to people living in Pakistan or any other country. Edward Alford is no longer the Ambassador to The Gambia, and he is not the person sending these emails. Please look at the email address of the sender – all State Department official emails would come from an address ending with @state.gov. There is also no such thing as a “three-years working permit visa.”
In order to obtain a nonimmigrant visa, the applicant needs to visit the website of the U.S. Embassy or Consulate near them, apply online at https://ceac.state.gov/genniv/, pay the $160 fee, and schedule the appointment for the interview at the Embassy or Consulate. There is no other way to obtain a U.S. visa. Anyone who promises an alternate route to a U.S. visa is a criminal who is trying to steal money from his/her victims.
Unfortunately, it is highly unlikely that the victims in these crimes will ever be able to get their money returned. If you or anyone you know has been promised a visa for a fee, please report the scammer to the police immediately.