B-2 Visit Visa: Requirements, Process, Limitations

If you wish to enter the United States, you must first get a visa. There are two popular types of non-immigrant visas: B-1 and B-2. A person planning to attend some business activities need a B-1 visa, while a B-2 visa allows a citizen of a foreign country to visit the United States for traveling purposes. Here is what you need to know about a B-2 tourist visa:

A B-2 visa is very popular across the globe as it allows people to temporarily visit the United States for tourism-related activities. The following questions will help you explore the requirements, application process, and limitations associated with a B-2 visit vise:

What is a B-2 Visa?

As mentioned earlier, a B-2 visa is obtained to enter the United States for tourism purposes. For example, a tourist on a pleasure trip to the U.S. needs a B-2 visa. You can stay in the United States for up to six months and do various activities. In some cases, you can enter the United States multiple times using your valid B-2 visa, while some visas expire soon after the trip.

Like the B-1 visa which allows people to attend the business-related activities in the United States, the B-2 visa has no cap which means the United States doesn’t impose any limits to the number of B-2 visas awarded every year.

What Does a B-2 Visa Allow Me to do in the United States?

A B-2 visa program is created to let people enter the United States for tourism and travel purposes. A person wishing to visit friends and family in the United States also need a B-2 visa. While visiting the United States with a B-2 visa, here are some of the activities that you’re allowed to do:

  • Visit friends and family
  • Visit cities, landmarks, historical places, and other sights
  • Have a holiday in the United States
  • Participate in various events, recreational activities, contests
  • Get medical treatment
  • Be a part of short educational courses that don’t involve a degree or certificate; for example, a cooking class
  • Marry a U.S. citizen

If you wish to perform activities that are totally different from the above-mentioned activities, you may not qualify to get a B-2 visa.

What Am I Not Allowed To Do With a B-2 Visa?  

There are a number of activities that you can’t do when entering the United States with a B-2 visitor visa. Some of them are:

  • Getting enrollment in a part-time or full-time educational program
  • Being a part of an event or performance with an intention to receive payment
  • Joining a company or business for any type of employment
  • Working as a journalist or a member of the media
  • Entering the United States as an air hostess or a crewmember on a ship
  • Seeking permanent residence

Is it Mandatory For Everybody to Get a B-2 visa to Visit the U.S.?

You may not need a B-2 visa to visit the United States depending on your country of citizenship. The government of the United States offers the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) which allows citizens of specific countries to visit the United States for business or tourism. If you’re a citizen of these countries, you only require an ESTA to enter the United States. You can fill out an Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) application online in minutes. A number of Western European countries are on the VWP list.

Use the following form to check your ESTA eligibility:

You will not qualify to submit an ESTA application if your country is not on the VWP list. Consider getting a B-2 visa instead as an alternative way to enter the United States for tourism purposes.

What are the Requirements for a B-2 Visa?

You have to meet certain requirements in order to get a B-2 visa. The United States has been dealing with many security concerns, so the visa applicants have to fulfill many technical requirements. The following are some of the major requirements for a B-2 visa:

Documented proof that your financial situation allows you to travel to the United States and complete your trip

Ensuring the authorities that you’re not a security threat to American residents

Proof that you’ll leave the United States before your visa expires

Your visit to the United States will be strictly limited to tourism or whatever you’re allowed to do

There should be no issue obtaining a B-2 visa if you successfully meet all these requirements.

How to Apply for a B-2 visa?

You can fill out a B-2 visa application online through your local U.S. embassy’s website. It’s typically a 5-step process to apply for a B-2 visa:

  1. Complete Online Non immigrant Visa Application (Form DS-160)
  2. Pay the application fee
  3. Schedule your interview
  4. Gather required documents
  5. Attend your visa interview

Let’s elaborate on these steps!

  1. Complete the Form DS-160

You need to complete an online visa application (Form DS-160) in order to initiate the process. Visit the website of your local U.S. embassy to find the Form DS-160. Fill out the form and provide all the required information in a truthful manner. The application form asks about your personal information and the purpose of your visit. Your personal information includes your education, employment history, and background. Submit the application form after providing all the required information. Don’t forget to keep the confirmation page for future reference.

  1. Pay the application fee

The completion of the Form DS-160 will be followed by the payment of the fee. Typically, an applicant has to pay $160 USD for a standard B-2 visa. Some applicants may have to pay extra money depending on their countries and reciprocity agreements with the United States. Once you pay the fee, keep the receipt which you’ll be presenting at the time of interview.  

  1. Schedule your visa interview

You can schedule the interview with your local U.S. embassy after successfully processing the fee. Your interview can be scheduled early or on a date several months away depending on the workload of your local U.S. embassy.   

  1. Gather required documents

You need certain documents to support your statements. During the interview, you may be asked to present documents that can support the information you have provided on your Form DS-160. Here are some of the documents that you should find and organize in a file prior to your interview:

  • Receipt of visa application fee
  • DS-160 confirmation page and code
  • Passport
  • Bank statements proving your financial ability to finance the trip
  • Documents to prove your ties to your home country and that you will return home after your visa expires
  • Documents describing the purpose of your visit
  • Letters or invitation cards from your family or friends in the United States, if applicable to your situation
  • Documents from your previous trips to the U.S. (if applicable)
  • A letter from the doctor describing your urgency to make the visit, If you’re traveling to the U.S. for medical treatment
  • Documents from the law enforcement department ensuring that you don’t have a criminal record or convictions or arrests
  1. Attend your visa interview

A consular officer will conduct the interview in order to determine whether or not you’re qualified to receive a visitor visa. During the interview, It’s critical for you to demonstrate how you meet all the requirements to receive a visa. Digital fingerprint scans are also taken as a part of your interview. Your application will be forwarded for further administrative processing if needed.

How Long Does the Embassy Take to Process a B-2 Visa?

The B-2 visa can take a few days to get processed in some U.S embassies. However, your local U.S embassy may take up to several months to process the visa. It depends on the workload an embassy is dealing with. Generally, an applicant will get a notice within a few days.

For How Long Can I Stay In the U.S. With a B-2 Visit Visa?

You can get a B-2 tourist visa anywhere from 6 months to 10 years depending on your situation. Some applicants can get a 10-year B-2 visa that allows them to enter the United  States multiple times throughout the term of the visa. On the other hand, some applicants only get six months to complete their trip.

You can get an extension in the visa duration in some circumstances. A visitor has to file Form I-539 with Citizenship and Immigration Services to request the extension. It is recommended to request the extension at least 45 days before your visa expires.

Is it Possible to Get Approved For a Green Card While in the U.S. With a B-2 Visa?

Getting a green card with a B-2 visit visa is impossible. However, there are some exceptions to this rule. In case of certain unexpected situations, it’s possible to apply for a change of status. For example, if you marry a U.S. citizen during your visit to the United States, you can apply to change your status from being a non-immigrant to an immigrant. However, you’re not eligible for a B-2 visa if you have the intentions to change your status afterward.

Does a B-2 Visa Allow Me to Bring my Dependents to the United States With me?  

A person visiting the United States is not entitled to bring anyone else with them to the country. If you want your spouse, children or friends or anyone else to accompany you on the trip, then they have to apply for the U.S. visa individually. Unless you or your family is eligible for an ESTA, everyone has to get a B-2 visa in order to enter the United States.

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