Chicago Visa & Immigration

What you need to know!

Visa Requirements: An Overview

A Valid Passport

Ensure your passport is valid for at least six months beyond your planned stay in Chicago. Some countries may have exceptions, so always check the specifics.

Visa or ESTA

Citizens from Visa Waiver Program countries can travel to Chicago for tourism or business without a visa. Instead, they’ll need an approved ESTA before departure.

Return/Onward Travel Proof

Immigration may ask for evidence of your intention to leave the U.S., like a return or onward ticket. Always have this handy to avoid potential issues.

Financial Solvency

Show you can financially support your stay. This could be bank statements, pay slips, or a letter from a sponsor. It’s proof you won’t overstay or seek employment.

Visa Types

tourist

Tourist Visa (B-2)

Ideal for leisure visits, the B-2 visa allows tourists to explore Chicago’s wonders for up to 6 months. Plan your itinerary and ensure you have return tickets.

employee

Business Visa (B-1)

For professionals attending conferences, meetings, or business events in Chicago. Ensure you have documentation from your company and the event’s details.

ESTA

Visa Waiver Program (ESTA)

Citizens from 39 countries can visit Chicago without a visa for up to 90 days. It’s essential to apply online before traveling. Ideal for short trips.

student-exchange

Exchange Visitor (J-1)

Participants can work, study, and teach in Chicago. Ensure you’re sponsored by an approved organization and have the necessary documents.

Frequently Asked Questions

The Immigration Process At Chicago Airports

Arrival & Queue

Upon landing, follow signs to immigration. Peak times may have longer waits; patience is key.

immigration

Immigration Check

Present your passport and visa. Answer questions confidently. Have travel documents ready.

custom-clearance

Customs Declaration

Declare items if required. Use the customs form given on the plane or at the airport.

baggage-claim

Baggage Claim

Retrieve luggage from the carousel. Carts are available for multiple bags or heavy items.

taxi

Exit & Transportation

After customs, find exits for taxis, shuttles, or public transport to your destination.

Useful Links & Resources

Additional Tips For International Visitors

Currency Exchange

Convert some money to USD before arriving or use airport exchange counters for immediate needs.

Tourist/Local SIM

Purchase a tourist or a local SIM card at the airport. Tourist SIMs offer short-term plans ideal for travelers.

Fast Track Services

Some airlines offer fast-tracked immigration services. You should check beforehand if yours does.

Airport Lounges

Access lounges for fast check-ins, refreshments, and relaxation after lengthy flights.

Pre-Booked Transfers

Arrange for airport transfers in advance to avoid waiting for taxis or figuring out public transport upon arrival.

Highlights

  • The St. Valentine's Day Massacre Site
  • The famous alleyway from a legendary crime
  • The haunted Chicago theatre

And a whole lot more!