Visa in the US

Foreign nationals who wish to visit the United States must get a B-2 tourist visa to be allowed to enter the country. A B-2 tourist visa is a single entry visa and is valid for 90 days from the time of entry. Tourist visas are for people who want to visit the U.S. for pleasure, tourism or visiting friends and family. A tourist visa cannot be used for work, study or permanent residence in the U.S.

  • Contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate that has jurisdiction over your place of residence to make an appointment for an interview. All applicants ages 14 to 79 must appear for an interview. Some embassies and consulates charge a nonrefundable fee for this appointment.
  • Wait times vary for appointments and visa processing. Some countries take longer than others and wait times typically are longer during the summer travel season.
  • Before your appointment, fill out form DS-156 and, if required, DS-157.
  • Before your appointment, gather your other supporting documents. The U.S. government assumes tourist visa applicants intend to overstay their visas, so it is necessary for you to prove otherwise. There are no fixed rules about what constitutes evidence that you won’t overstay, and evidence varies from person to person, so provide as much information as you can. Documents in your native language are acceptable.
  • The U.S. State Department recommends you show a return ticket as part of the evidence you don’t plan to overstay the visa. But many tickets are nonrefundable and there is no guarantee your application will be approved.
  • Take your completed forms to your interview, along with supporting documentation and interview number (if any) to the Embassy or Consulate. The interview can be conducted in your native language if you are not comfortable speaking English. A digital fingerprint scan will be taken.
  • If your application is approved, the officer will keep your forms and passport. When the visa is processed, you will pick up the passport or arrange for a courier to deliver it. There might be additional fees for a courier service.
  • If your application is denied, your passport and paperwork will be returned. The officer is not obligated to give a specific reason for the denial. You can reapply at a later date, but you must show significantly different evidence that supports your intent to return home or an officer will not review your application.

Tourist Visa in the US

Tourists in the United States must obtain a B-2 visa for authorized entry. The exception lies with members of the 35 nations recognized by the U.S. as visa waiver countries. Citizens of these countries can enter the U.S. without a tourism visa. All other tourists must obtain B-2 visitor visas from the U.S. embassy or consulate in their home nation. When a visa is granted, it indicates an expiration date. But authorized status in the U.S. is based on the I-94 entry card, which may differ from the visa expiration date.

Visa Application Appointment

Prior to obtaining a tourist visa, foreign nationals must schedule a visa appointment interview. Interview appointments are scheduled differently across the globe. Some embassies and consulates prefer to schedule appointments over the phone, while others utilize the Internet. During this process, applicants must pay a visa appointment fee, which is determined by each embassy and consulate.

Visa Application

Before attending the visa interview, applicants must complete the online form DS-156 and bring a printed copy with them to the interview. In some cases, a newer form, the DS-160 replaces the DS-156. The form requests basic information, including biographical and passport data. Applicants should bring two passport-sized photos along with the application. This set of photos is used on the visa stamp.

Purpose of Visit

During the visa appointment interview, the immigration officer will request information regarding the intended trip. The applicant should provide the purpose of the visit along with any itineraries, travel plans, plane tickets or any other type of information that helps evidence the trip. Specifically, the B-2 visitor visa is restricted for purposes of pleasure, tourism and medical treatments. If an officer feels that the visa is intended for any other purpose, the application may be denied.

Intent to Return

Immigration officers are trained to assume that any trip to the U.S. is for the purpose of permanent immigration. Since a B-2 visa only allows for temporary visitation to the U.S., it is the burden of the applicant to prove an intent to return. Such proof may include a job held outside of the U.S., an established residence that is not for sale or any other ties that would associate the applicant with the intent to return from the U.S.

Financial Requirements

Showing intent to return from travel is not enough. The immigration officer must see evidence that the applicant has the financial ability to afford travel to the U.S., the duration of the trip and return trip. This is especially important in lengthy trips for an applicant who may reside in the U.S. for several months. Financial ability is proven through bank statements of either checking or savings accounts.