Visa for Boston: Travel Requirements & Application

Do I Need a Visa for Boston from the UK?

In this article

The commonwealth of Massachusetts is a term used by four of the 50 states in the US - Massachusetts, Virginia, Kentucky, and Pennsylvania. These four states came together to form the commonwealth for their common good. Boston is the Commonwealth of Massachusetts’s capital city and doubles as the most populous city in the commonwealth. Boston has a land area of 125,20 kilometers square and a water area of 106.91 kilometers square, making 232.11 kilometers square. It had a population of 675,647 people in 2020, giving it a population density of 5,396.54 people per square kilometer, making it the most populous city in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
Thousands of visitors travel to Boston from around the world year on year. Boston had a total of over 1.8 million visitors in 2020. According to the US travel regulations, visitors can enter Boston with a US visa or an ESTA authorization. These visitors must obey and align with the travel requirements for the US because Boston is a city under US territory.
Several of the visitors to Boston come for educational purposes, ranging from pursuing higher learning to attending seminars in Boston. Many highly-rated educational institutions are located in and around Boston, examples of which are Harvard, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Boston University, Brandeis University, and Tufts University. There are also many academic research structures in Boston.
ESTA stands for Electronic System for Travel Authorization and is a system introduced by the US Department of Homeland Security. It was introduced to identify and prevent potential threats from entering the US under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). Visitors eligible for ESTA are permitted to enter Boston without a visa, while the rest must provide a visa to Boston. Visitors to Boston with ESTA can stay within its borders for 90 days. Waiting more than 90 days would require getting a visa.

Do I Need a Visa for Boston from the UK?

The UK is part of the countries under the Visa Waiver Program. The program allows citizens of the 40 countries to travel to the US without a visa; all they need to provide is the ESTA authorization. Apart from the 40 countries eligible for ESTA, citizens of other countries must show a visa on entry to Boston. When coming from the UK into Boston, you will not need a visa, provided you stay in Boston for less than 90 days.
ESTA was introduced to improve the security within Boston and the US in general, as it screens applicants to ensure they do not pose any threats to Boston. ESTA is a preferred option for entering Boston because the application process is easy and quick. It allows its holders to travel into Boston for a maximum of 90 days and allows for multiple entries during the 2-year validity period of the authorization. It is best for tourism, short business visits, and other visits that will not extend past 90 days.
You do not need a visa to enter Boston from the UK, provided you do not plan on staying more than 90 days in Boston. If you need a visa, the type of visa required depends on the time you plan to spend and why you need to stay in Boston for more than 90 days. There are four main categories of visas to Boston from the UK, including student visas, tourist visas, Business or work visas, and Immigration and naturalization visas. Each of them has different requirements. There are specific categories of individuals who need a visa to travel to Boston, even though they are citizens of the UK. The categories include:
  • Deportees from the US
  • People with criminal records
  • People who have been arrested for one reason or the other. It also applies to those who did not get a criminal conviction based on the arrest.
  • Candidates who have stayed past the recommended time their visa permits in Boston
  • Those who have been deported from Boston or the US in the past

What Are the Requirements?

Applying for an ESTA and a visa is entirely different. They have other procedures, requirements, and timeframes and are available to diverse audiences. The Visa Waiver Program and having a visa are the two ways to enter the US legally. The requirements for each of these entry routes are highlighted below.

Requirements for ESTA

Applying for ESTA is easy and relatively fast, taking only about 20 minutes. There are three stages: provide your details, pay your processing fee, and wait to get approved. The requirements for registering ESTA include:
  • Personal information, as seen on your passport
  • Your international travel passport
  • An email address
  • A valid bank card for paying the visa fees
Filling out your personal information may involve answering questions regarding health and security. The process is easy, fast, and straightforward and can only be completed online.

Requirements for a US Visa

Although citizens of the UK can enter the US and Boston with an ESTA, certain citizens will not be able to enter with an ESTA without the need for a visa. They will need a visa before gaining entrance. The categories of UK citizens who need a visa have been highlighted above. Citizens of the UK who need to stay in Boston for more than 90 days also need a visa. Here are the requirements for applying for a visa:
  • A valid traveler’s passport
  • A filled-out, dated, and signed application form, which applicants can only obtain on the website of the Department of State (DOS)
  • A passport photograph sized 2 x 2 inches must meet all of the requirements. It should not be older than six months and must be in color. Some requirements include a white background, no shadows, and no decorative headgear or dark eyewear.
  • A proof that you have paid the visa application fee. Unlike in the UK, where the visa fee is paid during the interview, the US visa system requires you to pay the processing fee before booking an interview.
  • If applicable, previous US visas.
  • A complete travel itinerary that shows all your activities during your time in Boston. It must also contain your entry and exit dates with corresponding flight numbers.
  • Social media handles and history for the past five years

Visa Application Duration

The duration of waiting for approval after applying for your visa is relative. It usually lasts between four and six weeks. It is a lengthy process, requiring time to check out your information, ensure it corresponds with each other, and ensure you pose no threats to Boston and its surroundings.

Work Visa for Boston

Of the four visa types for Boston and the US, the work visa is the most difficult to obtain because governments prefer jobs and employment circulating among their citizens. To apply for a work visa in Boston, your employer has to start the process, and you must have supporting documents to show your proficiency. A work visa can either be an immigrant visa, where the holder can become a citizen of the US after some time or a non-immigrant visa, meaning it cannot lead to becoming a citizen. Apart from the stated requirements for visa application, a work visa has other conditions, which include:
  • An offer letter from your employer
  • Bachelor’s, Master’s, or Doctorate, or different equivalent professional degrees
  • Diplomas and certifications to show your competence
  • CV, portfolio, or Resume
  • Letter of recommendation from previous employers
  • National license for occupations that requires a license
  • Additional processing fees
  • Previous work experience shows your competence and extraordinary abilities.
Most US visas last for one year, including the work visa. However, it can be renewed, giving the holder more time to spend in the US.

General Points to Note

  • Paperwork and immigration: You will need to pass through the immigration officers on arrival in Boston. The immigration officers are there to check your documents, to ensure you are not making an illegal entrance to Boston. Get your complete paperwork, and approach the officers. They will scan through your documents, take your fingerprint, take a picture of you, and then when all is set, your passport will be stamped, and you can go to claim your baggage.
  • Baggage claim: After getting your passport stamped by the immigration officers, you claim your baggage and head to the customs officers. The customs officers will check through your belongings to ensure you have no prohibited substances. Prohibited substances may be harmful materials like firearms or drugs or as harmless as fruits and vegetables. After checking through your belongings, the customs officers will let you go, and you can head for the exit.
  • Health insurance: Before traveling, ensure your health insurance provider can function in Boston. If they do not, consider getting yourself health insurance in Boston. Health emergencies may arise during your stay in Boston and can get expensive without health insurance. People on prescription drugs should get enough to cover their stay in Boston because it may not be very convenient sourcing the medications.
  • Finances: When in Boston, ensure you have more than one bank card if one gets stuck in an ATM. Also, have cash on you to spend in stores that do not accept cards. Also, confirm from your bank in the UK if your cards will work in the US.
Ensure you also get other essentials like food supplements, as you may not easily get them in Boston, especially the particular brand you use.

Written by Abisola Fikayomi

Abisola is an accomplished writer interested in US Travel, immigration, passports and visas. She’s passionate about exploring new places and cultures and willing to share her experiences, expertize and findings with others. That is her primary drive for specialising in this industry.


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