Tourists who are looking to enter the United States for a temporary amount of time can do so through a B-2 visa. Though sometimes accompanied with the B-1 visa, the B-2 tourist visa does not grant the holder permission to work in the United States. The B-2 visa category includes tourists, individuals visiting family or friends, artists or musicians receiving no payment, athletes receiving no payment, individuals requiring specific medical treatment, and those attending conventions, conferences, or similar social events. A short study that comes as a consequence or minor part of a B-2 visit is permitted; however, the visa is not available for students looking to study in the United States. Over 75 percent of non-immigrants that travel into the United States each year are B category visa holders.
B-2 Visa Eligibility and Requirements
United States law assumes that all individuals that plan to apply for a B-2 visa is also looking to immigrate into the country. Because of this, applicants must prove in the application that;
- Their visit to the United States is for pleasure or specific medical reasons
- They have specified the dates that they will be entering and leaving the United States and therefore a specific period of time they will reside in the U.S
- The applicant does not intend to abandon their foreign residence or claim asylum during their stay in the United States
- The applicant is not a United States employee and does not plan to work for a U.S. employer, legitimizing their pleasure-related activities
- There is a realistic and detailed itinerary for the entire stay of the trip
- The applicant has sufficient funds for expenses during their stay in the United States as well as their return fares
- There is proof of residence outside of the U.S. to ensure that the applicant will return abroad when the visit concludes
Generally, if the trip is going to be short, the probability of the visa being approved will increase. If there is a clearly defined itinerary, proof of funds to cover travel and other expenses, as well as employment in their country of origin waiting for them, it will ensure that the applicant will return on the designated date.
Those who are seeking a B-2 visa should head to their U.S. Embassy or Consulate that holds legal jurisdiction over the area they reside and apply in-person. B-2 visa applicants can conduct their application online, but the application is significantly easier and more likely to be approved when applying at the embassy or consulate directly.
The B-2 visa application process includes an in-person interview, which is why it is recommended to apply entirely at the office versus online. Unless upon specific request, applicants younger than 13 or older than 80 are not required to interview. There are required forms and documents, however, that must be submitted by applicants of all ages to receive B-2 visa eligibility.
All applicants are required to submit specific documents, forms, and fees. Here are some of the documentation requirements:
- All applicants must submit Form DS-156, which is a nonimmigrant visa application, that must be accompanied by a letter from an individual who is inviting them to visit the United States
- Applicants must also submit supplementary Form DS-157
- A valid passport is required, with an expiration date at least six months removed from the date the applicant intends to leave the United States
- Two identical photos must be submitted in color against a light background, showing the applicants full face with no head covering; a headdress may be worn for religious purposes
- A detailed trip itinerary must be included along with any information of the affiliated company or organization the applicant intends to travel with
- Documentation from the B-2 visa applicant that proves his or her ability to cover the necessary expenses incurred while in the United States
- If the applicant cannot cover their own expenses, detailed documentation from the individual who intends to cover the costs must be included, along with which expenses the applicant can and cannot cover themselves
Applicants must prove in their application that they are classified under United States law. This can be proved with the following:
- A document with evidence showing the trip is intended for pleasure or medical purposes, including intent to leave the United States
- Evidence that the applicant has sufficient funds to provide for the trip; if the applicant cannot provide themselves, they must prove that an interested person (outside of the United States) can cover the expenses that the applicant cannot pay
- Supporting documents that relate to the situation of the applicant may be required in order to specify the nature of obligations, such as work or school, that would ensure they return abroad
- Additional documentation not listed may be required when an individual plans to travel to the United States for medical reasons
Terms of Stay and B-2 Visa Extensions
Tourist visas generally have an allotted time of six months. In some cases, the visa can be extended to periods of up to six months as well. However, if applicable, the visa holder’s spouse and/or children must independently qualify for the B-2 program if they plan to extend their stay. If an applicant has any questions about the application process or visa ineligibility, they should contact the U.S. Consulate abroad that presides over their area of residence. Likewise, they should contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate that is handling their case if they have concerns about their application that is in progress.
The granting of a B-2 visa does not guarantee that the applicant may enter the United States. The immigration authorities have the right to deny admission into the U.S. as well as determine the period of time that a person can legally stay in the country. At the port of entry, the immigration officials must verify the visa holder’s admission to the United States. During this time, Form I-94 will be stamped, showing the legal length of the stay for the visa holder. Any B-2 visa visitors intending to stay beyond the allotted time must contact the USCIS to request an application for Form I-539. The USCIS has sole discretion of granting or denying a request for the extension of a B-2 visa holder’s stay.
It is also important to remember that there no assurance that the application process guarantees you a visa in advance of scheduled travel. Non-refundable travel tickets or plans should not be arranged prior to receiving the visa. The issued visa is valid, unless previously cancelled by a government official, until the expiration date listed on the visa. If the visa is associated with an expired passport, it can be used with a new and valid passport. Therefore, the visa page should not be removed from the valid passport or admission into the United States may not be permissible. The B-2 visa holder is not permitted to accept any form of work in the United States during their stay under any circumstance.
Speak to an Immigration Attorney Today
Any B-2 visa applicant should have proper knowledge of the application process and qualifications before applying for their own. It can be complicated, however, to know and remember every form of documentation or evidence that must be included within the application. Our immigration attorneys have worked with visitor visa applicants for years and can assist you throughout the entire B-2 tourist visa application process. We work closely with our clients through the phone or at our office location to help move their application case forward and potentially qualify for a visitor visa. Call or contact the immigration attorneys at Johnson & Masumi, PC to request and schedule a free consultation so that you may successfully obtain a B-2 visa.