The B-2 category of visitors covers the tourists; aliens making social visits to relatives and friends; amateur artists, musicians, or athletes who will receive no remuneration; and aliens coming to take part in conferences or conventions or fraternal, services, or social organizations. Although the B category visa is not available for study in the U.S., however, a short course of study that is incidental to a tourist's trip is permitted in this category. More than three fourths of the total nonimmigrants admitted annually to the U.S. are tourist or B-2 visa holders.
Note: Citizens from visa waiver countries DO NOT need to apply for a B-2 tourist visa. Visa Waiver recipients can travel to the United States for tourism through the Visa Waiver program using their valid passports.
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The presumption in law is that every visitor visa applicant is an intending immigrant. Therefore, applicants for tourist visas must overcome this presumption by demonstrating that:
- The purpose of their trip is to enter the U.S. for pleasure, or medical treatment;
- That they plan to remain for a specific time period;
- He or she will maintain a foreign residence that he or she has no intention of abandoning during the period of his or her stay in the U.S.;
- He or she maintains legitimate binding ties to their home country and has an obligation to return to their home country;
- That he or she is not engaged in work and will engage solely in legitimate activities relating to pleasure;
More specifically the following things are considered by a consular or CIS officer when deciding whether or not to grant a visitor visa request:
- Adequate funds must be demonstrated by the alien to cover the expenses for the trip including his or her stay and return passage;
- Alien has specific and realistic plans for the visit for the entire period of the contemplated visit;
- Alien has a residence outside the U.S. as well as other binding ties, which will insure his or her return abroad at the end of the visit.
Normally, an applicant's chances for getting a visa improve if the planned trip is short, the itinerary is clearly listed, the alien can prove that he or she has enough of funds to cover the expenses of his entire trip and has a job at home.Applying for a Visa
Applicants for visitor visas should generally apply at the American Embassy or Consulate with jurisdiction over their place of permanent residence. Although visa applicants may apply at any U.S. consular office abroad, it may be more difficult to qualify for the visa outside the country of permanent residence.
As part of the visa application process, an interview at the embassy consular section is required for visa applicants. Persons below 13 and above 80 years generally do not require an interview, unless requested by embassy or consulate.Supporting Documents
Each applicant for a visitor visa must submit documents in support of their application for a B-2 Visa.The following is a list of some documents that should be included in the application. The list is not all inclusive and specific details pertaining to your application should be discussed with a licensed attorney in detail. Additional documents may be necessary depending on the specific case.
- A Non-immigrant Visa Application, Form DS-160. The application must be accompanied by a letter from a U.S. friend or relative sponsor inviting the alien to the United States;
- A passport valid for travel to the United States and with a validity date at least six months beyond the applicant's intended period of stay in the United States.
- Two identical color photographs showing full face without head covering against a light background. One may wear a headdress if required by a religious order of which he or she is a member;
- Information describing the company such as brochures, catalogs, annual reports;
- A copy of tour itinerary; and
- Documentation demonstrating ability and intention of the alien, or that of his or her employer, to support the alien's travel and other expenses while in the U.S.
- Documentation showing that the alien has binding ties to their home country.
Applicants must demonstrate that they are properly classifiable as visitors under U.S. law by:
- Evidence, which demonstrates the purpose of the trip, bona fide intent to depart the United States, and arrangements made to cover the costs of the trip, may be provided. It is impossible to specify the exact form the documentation should take since applicants' circumstances vary greatly.
- Those applicants who do not have sufficient funds to support themselves while in the U.S. must present convincing evidence that an interested person will provide support.
- Depending on individual circumstances, applicants may provide other documentation substantiating the trip's purpose and specifying the nature of binding obligations, such as family ties or employment, which would compel their return abroad.
- No assurances regarding the issuance of visas can be given in advance. Therefore final travel plans or the purchase of nonrefundable tickets should not be made until a visa has been issued.
- Unless previously canceled, a visa is valid until its expiration date. Therefore, if the traveler has a valid U.S. visa in an expired passport, do not remove the visa page from the expired passport. It may be used along with a new valid passport for travel and admission to the United States.
- Visitors are not permitted to accept employment during their stay in the U.S.
A tourist visa is normally granted for a 6 month period of time, which can be extended in some cases for an additional six months. The applicant's spouse and children must independently qualify for the B-2 visa.
Questions on visa application procedures and visa ineligibilities should be made to the American consular office abroad by the applicant. If inquiry concerns a visa case in progress overseas, one should first contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate handling his or her case for status information.
A visa does not guarantee entry into the United States. Immigration authorities have the authority to deny admission, and can determine the period for which the bearer of a visitor visa is to be authorized to remain in the United States. At the port of entry, an Immigration official must authorize the traveler's admission to the U.S. At that time the Form I-94, Record of Arrival-Departure, which notes the length of stay permitted, is stamped. Visitors intend to stay beyond the time indicated on their Form I-94 must contact the USCIS to request Form I-539, Application to Extend status. The decision to grant or deny a request for extension of stay is made solely by the USCIS.Frequently Asked Questions about B Visas