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Alaska is a city that attracts travelers from across the world, especially for outdoor activities in summer or to experience the northern lights during the winter months. Have you heard of the Alaskan cruises? It’s a dream vacation many people hope to take someday.
However, if you are traveling to Alaska from outside the US, here are some handy tips in planning your visit.
For foreign nationals entering the US, you need a VISA to enter the country. There are different types of US VISAs you can apply for, depending on the purpose of your travel. If you wish to visit Alaska as a tourist, you need to apply for a B-2 VISA. If you are traveling for business, then a B-1 VISA would be the right category to apply for.
How Long Does it Take to Get the VISA?
Getting the VISA could be a long process, depending on the country you are traveling from. It is important, therefore, to plan your visit early. The time span covers application as well as waiting to get an interview at the US embassy. It is best that you contact your nearby US embassy to know how long it would take once you put in an application.
Do You Qualify for ESTA?
There exists a VISA Waiver Program and some countries qualify for it. In such cases, you can visit Alaska without having to apply for a VISA. In such cases, you need to obtain authorization through the Electronic System for Travel Authorisation or ESTA. To know whether you are eligible for the same, visit the official ESTA web page.
In general, in order to visit Alaska with an ESTA, you need to:
- Have a passport that includes a machine-readable zone on the page where your biographical details are.
- You need to possess an e-passport that has an embedded chip that includes biometric information about the owner.
- Ensure that you are a national or a citizen of a country that is eligible for VWP.
- If you are traveling to the US under VWP you need to get authorization under ESTA before you travel.
Once You Arrive in the US
When you reach the US, you would be landing at a city that is the port of entry to the country for you. Like any other international traveler, you need to keep certain papers ready to ensure that all inspections post-arrival goes off smoothly.
Paperwork at US Airports
Once you disembark, you would be heading to the immigration line. Here you need to present your passport, VISA, Form I-94, and customs form which is usually handed to you for filling in the plane itself. Form I-94 is an arrival or departure record form. Here you need to fill in the date of admission, your legal status, how long you are staying, and when you would be departing.
Clearance at Immigration
This is the final step before you can go ahead and claim your baggage and pass through customs. Immigration officials typically inspect your papers and wish to know how long you would be staying and who you are visiting. The officials might also take your picture and fingerprints before they return your documents and stamp the passport.
Once the above steps are cleared, you can then proceed to pick up your baggage and check-in with customs. Here you need to conform to certain items that are typically not allowed to be brought into the country. It is best that you leave behind perishable food, plant, or animal by-products which are usually banned at US airports.
Useful advice from experienced travelers is worth picking up. However, for specific and accurate information, it is best that you look up official websites and VISA-linked information sites.