Chicago at a Glance
Chicago Info: Visa, Transport and HealthiStockphoto
Known mainly by its nickname "the L", the Elevated Train is a common sight in downtown Chicago.
Visa for Chicago
The United States government has a strict visa policy for foreigners. You should be aware of your status when entering the United States, as authorities distinguish between immigrant and non-immigrant visas. You are required to fill out different forms depending on which category you fall under.
Regardless of the type of visa you are eligible for and will be applying for, please note that you must schedule an interview with the United States embassy/consulate in your respective city as part of the application process. For this interview, please be sure you have the following with you:
- 2x2 passport photo
- The correct visa application form filled out completely and correctly
- A medical examination done by a physician at the US embassy/consulate in your home country prior to the interview.
Types of Visa
An immigrant visa is what the US officials consider a permanent visa, for people planning on living in the United States (in this case, Chicago) for an indefinite period of time. In order to be eligible for one, you must be sponsored by a US citizen or legal resident. That is to say, a close relative that is either a citizen or possesses a valid green card or a future employer may act as a beneficiary in easing your application process.
A non-immigrant visa is a temporary one. Please visit the US Department of State’s Types of Visas for Temporary Visitors page to check which temporary visa category applies to you. When you have found the appropriate one, click on the link in order to find out how to proceed further.
Transportation in Chicago
It is highly recommended to have a car if you do not live directly within the downtown Loop area. As with most American cities, shopping areas, grocery stores and other conveniences are located further outside the city. Although there are plenty of regional trains, it will make your life significantly easier if you own or lease a car, especially when you would like to take weekend trips to the surrounding Chicago area. Leasing a car in the US is a common practice and most car dealerships offer this possibility.
Chicago's public transportation system is the second largest in the entire country. From commuter trains to buses and everything in between, you will find that getting around Chicago is a piece of cake. The Chicago Transit Authority’s website is very detailed and has up-to-date information on schedules for trains, the ‘L’, and buses.
The CTA services not only the inner-city area, but commuter trains (the ‘L’, so named because the original commuter trains were all above ground, i.e. elevated) also run to and from both airports and to more than 40 suburbs around Chicago. The different train lines are denoted by color, for example, “the green line” or “the blue line”. At the time of writing, a single ride ticket costs $2.25, with all additional transfers costing 25 cents.
Getting a so-called “Transit Card” is well worth it, because you can charge money onto it and do not have to worry about having correct change on every ride. The CTA also offers Day Passes, Weekly Passes and Monthly Passes. For more information, visit their Fares page.
Healthcare in the Chicago Area
Getting appropriate health insurance in the United States is very important, as without insurance, you will not be eligible for care. There are several international as well as national health insurance agencies, which have health plans to meet your needs. It is best to get a quote online in order to see how much you have to pay for your insurance, based on your medical history. Online sites such as ehealthinsurance.com offer lists of health insurance providers by state and county.
There are several well-known hospitals in the Chicago area. The Northwestern Memorial Hospital, Rush University Medical Center, and the University of Chicago Medical Center are among the top hospitals in the United States.
The healthcare system in the United States is generally speaking one of the best, and you can easily find care for any number of ailments. It is common to have a general practitioner who has a file of your medical history and can refer you to specialists if need be. The best way to find one in your area is to look in the Yellow Pages or their online equivalent.