If you are planning to travel to the United States, you may have heard about the “star” on US visas. What does it mean, and how can it benefit you? In this article, we’ll explain the significance of the star on US visas and how it can be advantageous for travelers.
- The star on US visas signifies that the visa complies with the security standards of the REAL ID Act.
- Having a star on your visa can make it easier to enter federal facilities and board domestic flights.
- To obtain a visa with a star, you will need to submit additional documentation and undergo extra screening.
What is the REAL ID Act?
The REAL ID Act is a federal law that sets specific security standards for government-issued identification cards, such as driver’s licenses and passports. The law was enacted in response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks and is designed to prevent identity theft and fraud.
Under the REAL ID Act, all US states and territories must issue driver’s licenses and identification cards that meet the law’s requirements. These include:
- Document requirements: Applicants must provide documentation, such as passports or birth certificates, to verify their identities.
- Proof of residency: Applicants must provide documents to prove that they are residents of the state or territory in which they are applying for the ID card.
- Record keeping: States must maintain a record of all documents used to issue an ID card.
- Security features: ID cards must include specific security features, such as anti-counterfeit technology and the star symbol.
Beginning October 1, 2021, US citizens will be required to show a REAL ID-compliant form of identification to board domestic flights and access certain federal facilities, such as military bases and nuclear power plants.
What Does the Star on a US Visa Mean?
If you have applied for a US visa, you may have noticed a star in the top right-hand corner of your visa sticker or printout. This star signifies that your visa meets the security standards of the REAL ID Act.
Visas with stars are available in several categories, including B1/B2 (tourism and business), F1 (student), J1 (exchange visitor), and M1 (vocational student). To obtain a visa with a star, you will need to submit additional documents, such as a passport or birth certificate, to verify your identity.
The US Department of State recommends that travelers apply for a visa with a star if they plan to enter federal facilities or board domestic flights. While a visa without a star is still valid for travel, having a star can make the boarding process smoother and faster.
How to Apply for a Visa with a Star
To apply for a visa with a star, follow these steps:
- Complete the online visa application form, pay the application fee, and schedule an appointment at a US embassy or consulate in your country.
- Gather the required documents, which may include your passport, birth certificate, and other identification documents.
- Attend your visa interview at the embassy or consulate.
- If approved, your visa will be printed with a star symbol in the top right-hand corner.
It is important to note that the application process for a visa with a star may take longer than a traditional visa application. Additionally, you may be subject to additional screening and verification procedures.
The star on US visas signifies compliance with the security standards of the REAL ID Act. If you plan to travel to the United States, obtaining a visa with a star can make it easier to enter federal facilities and board domestic flights. While the application process for a visa with a star may be more rigorous, the benefits may be worth it for travelers who intend to visit the US frequently.
What do I need to bring to my US visa interview?
You will need to bring your passport, visa application confirmation page, and any additional documents specified by the US embassy or consulate. This may include documents to demonstrate your ties to your home country, such as employment records or property deeds.
Can I use a visa without a star to enter the US?
Yes, visas without stars are still valid for travel to the United States. However, if you plan to enter federal facilities or board domestic flights, having a visa with a star may make the process smoother and faster.
Will I be subject to additional screening if I apply for a visa with a star?
Yes, obtaining a visa with a star may subject you to additional screening and verification procedures. It is important to allow sufficient time for this process when planning your trip.