Visa for Chicago, Illinois USA

Published on: Nov 01, 2017, Last Edited: Nov 09, 2019 | Tags: ESTA, USA Visa

Information on visiting Chicago and needing a visa for Chicago.


Chicago, which was once a small fort on the Chicago River, is presently the third largest city in the United States. The city is well known for its museums and outstanding architecture, but it is not only known for this. Anyone visiting Chicago city will easily notice that feeling of being on tour warming them up. The frequent incisive winds, the gorgeous views of Lake Michigan, the hot summers and frigid cold winters among other interesting facts sum up to define Chicago city as the ultimate tour destination. The purpose of this guide is to provide travel information as well as help travelers determine if they will need an ESTA or a visa for Chicago.

ESTA or a U.S. visa for Chicago?

The ESTA is an online application system for citizens of 39 countries in the Visa Waiver Program. The ESTA is a visa waiver which allows travelers to visit the United States for up to 90 days for tourism, business, transit and medical purposes. If travelers are not eligible for an ESTA, they will require a visa for Chicago. A visa application takes considerably longer and requires an in-person interview at a U.S. consulate or embassy.

The Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA)

The ESTA was established in 2009 to ease travel restrictions to the US for many European countries. Applying for an ESTA is easy and affordable, simply check online at to see if your country of citizenship and passport type is eligible for an ESTA.

If you are eligible for ESTA, all you need to do is apply online and fill in an online form. For most cases, approval or denial is almost immediate, but we still suggest travelers to apply early. Once approved, your ESTA is valid for two years or up until the date of passport expiry, whichever date comes sooner.

The U.S. visa

A visa is a document issued by a U.S. embassy or consulate abroad to permit foreign citizens to seek entry to the U.S. If your country of citizenship is not in the Visa Waiver Program, you will most likely need a visa for Chicago.

Different types of visas are available depending on the purpose of your visit and how long you want to stay. A visa can be valid for multiple entries or just a limited number of entries. It may take a long time to obtain a visa, so you should check with your local U.S. embassy or consulate to make sure your visa can be issued on time for your date of travel. Individuals who have their ESTA approved or a valid U.S. visa can get started with their travel plans.

Sights and What to Do in Chicago

Chicago offers a lot of captivating sights which include beaches on Lake Michigan, museums, zoos, and manifestations of magnificent architectural designs. Buckingham Fountain is a famous symbol of Chicago located in Grant and Park Frank while Lloyd Wright Preservation Trust is an architectural site tourist can see in Oak Park. The Brookfield Zoo and Lincoln Park Zoo are the major zoos, the Museum of Science and Industry and the Field Museum of Natural History are some of the best museums in the world. You can also entertain yourself by attending comedy shows at the famous comedy clubs or by taking day tours around the city of which you can choose to either go by boat or by bus.

Where to stay and eat.

Staying in Chicago is no problem since there is plenty of accommodation options ranging from budget to upscale price charges for hostels, rentals and hotels. Some of the luxurious hotels which provide quality hospitality services include the Peninsula Hotel and the Intercontinental Hotel Chicago. DeWitt Place apartment and other hostels such as IHSP Chicago Hostel and the Urban Holiday Lofts are some of the good places for Chicago tourists to stay.

Another good thing is that getting food or a drink is not a problem in Chicago. Plenty of restaurants across the streets will introduce you to the sweet Chicago Style delicacies. Lunch at the Alinea or even doughnuts at the Doughnut Vault would be great for any tourist visiting the city and not forgetting the night moments at the 404 Wine Bar and Andy`s Jazz Bar among other high-end bars and clubs.

Getting around and shopping in Chicago.

Tourists visiting Chicago can easily manoeuvre through the city on rented or personal cars because all the named streets have numbers indicating where the location is. Some of the car rental companies which can either be found at the airport or within the town are Thrifty, Dollar, and Enterprise. Trains and buses provide public transport in Chicago. Chicago Transit Authority is the main provider of public transport and it operates all the El buses and some trains while the Blue Line and the Red Line run trains 24 hours every day.

Shopping malls, markets centres, and retail shops have all that one needs to buy in Chicago. Some of the main shopping centres are the 900 North Michigan Shops and the Magnificent Mile, but you can also shop for gifts at the Accent Chicago, shop for clothing at Akira, and you can visit the Abraham Lincoln Book Shop to quench your thirst for knowledge.

Visiting Chicago is generally a good idea if you are looking for an intriguing tourism destination. Almost everything is fascinating from the location of the city on the banks of Lake Michigan, amazing food, accommodation and to the pleasant weather through most of the months. With all these, you will hardly get disappointed as you tour Chicago.


  • If you already have a valid U.S. visa, you do not need to apply for ESTA.
  • Always apply early
  • Check that the details on your visa are correct before leaving the embassy

Get the right travel authorization for Chicago

If you hold a passport from a visa waiver country such as the UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand or other Western European Country, you may be eligible to obtain an ESTA for tourist, business, medical or transit purposes. Get started on your application, otherwise, visit the FAQ to learn more about the ESTA

Apply for ESTA



Apply for ESTA

ESTA is a mandatory travel authorization for travelers visiting the United States either by Sea or Air for tourism, transit or business visits under 90 days.

Apply for ESTA