Going on Holiday in America: The B-2 Tourist Visa

With summer just around the corner, you might be thinking about visiting the United States on holiday. Depending on a number of factors—like the purpose of your visit, the length of your stay, and your country of citizenship—you may need to apply for the B-2 Tourist Visa before you can enter the country. What is the visa, how do you qualify, and what does it let you do? Let’s go over the specifics.

What’s Your Purpose?

Unlike immigrant visas for permanent residence, nonimmigrant visas like the B-2 Visa grant you temporary entry into the United States. The Tourist Visa requires that you visit the country specifically for pleasure (in other words, not for business or long-term study). Your purpose can include tourism, vacation, visiting with family, or even medical treatment. You might also use the visa to participate in certain types of social events, amateur contests, and music or sports events. You are not allowed to work or study during your stay, unless you take a short class that doesn’t give you credit towards a degree. If you’re applying as a journalist or temporary worker, you’ll need a different type of visa.

Do You Qualify for the Waiver Program?

If you’re coming from one of 38 qualified countries, you may be eligible to take your holiday without a visa. The Visa Waiver Program (VWP) makes this possible for certain people who are coming to the US for business or tourism purposes. You must be staying for 90 days or less. To learn more about VWP eligibility, check the US Department of State website.

How Do You Apply?

You’ll have to go through several steps to complete your Tourist Visa application, so it’s best to start as soon as possible before planning your trip. You’ll first need to complete a form called Form DS-160 and get a photo that meets the requirements. Depending on your age, you may have to schedule an interview at the US embassy or consulate in your country of residence. Bring your form, photo, and other documents like your passport and the receipt for your application fee (currently $160).

What Else?

Check with your embassy or consulate to find out if you’ll need additional documentation for your interview. For example, if you need medical treatment in the US, you may need a written diagnosis from your doctor; or if you’re attending a concert, you might show your ticket purchase as proof.

How Long Can You Stay?

When your visa application is approved, your Tourist Visa will have an expiration date. This is not the same as the authorized length of your stay. When you get to a port of entry, the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Officer will check your documents, determine whether you can enter the country, and authorize your stay for a certain length of time. You can file for an extension, but if you overstay your welcome, you risk voiding your visa and facing other serious consequences.

If you’re entering the United States for pleasure, you can spend less time worrying about your visa application and more time looking forward to your holiday. Just contact a qualified immigration attorney to make the whole process go smoothly. The thorough, detail-minded lawyers at Sánchez-Roig Law Firm, P.A. will make your B-2 Tourist Visa application a breeze. Get in touch to learn more about eligibility and the application process.