The B-2 visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows tourists to visit the United States temporarily. The B-2 visa is the ideal entry pass for tourists interested in seeing the U.S. through brief pleasure trips. Usually, people traveling to the United States for leisure purposes require valid B-2 visas. The State Department defines “pleasure trips” as legitimate activities of a recreational character such as tourism, amusement, visits to friends and/or relatives, rest, medical treatment, or activities of a social or service nature. B2 visa holders are allowed to travel, receive medical treatment, and visit relatives and friends in the United States. Furthermore, you may qualify to travel visa free under the Visa Waiver Program, or you may be a national of a country which has an agreement with the United States allowing their citizens to travel to the United States without B-2 visas. Tourists from participating VWP (Visa Waiver Program) countries are required to obtain an ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization) before departing for their trip.
Citizen or National Entitled Countries Under Visa Waiver Program (VWP)
Visa Waiver Program (VWP)
At present the 38 countries listed in the row under Visa Waiver Program are as below:
|1. Andorra||11. France||21. Lithuania||31. Slovakia|
|2. Australia||12. Germany||22. Luxembourg||32. Slovenia|
|3. Austria||13. Greece||23. Malta||33. South Korea|
|4. Belgium||14. Hungary||24. Monaco||34. The Czech Republic|
|5. Brunei||15. Iceland||25. Netherlands||35. Sweden|
|6. Chile||16. Ireland||26. Norway||36. Switzerland|
|7. Spain||17. Italy||27. New Zealand||37. Taiwan (see note)|
|8. Denmark||18. Japan||28. Portugal||38. United Kingdom|
|9. Estonia||19. Latvia||29. San Marino|
|10. Finland||20. Liechtenstein||20. Singapore|
Note: Above all the countries except Taiwan, the Taiwan should be noted that Taiwan Relations Act of 1979, Pub. L. No. 96-8, Section 4(b)(1), provides that “whenever the laws of the United States refer or relate to foreign countries, nations, states, governments, or similar entities, such terms shall include and such laws shall apply with respect to Taiwan.” 22 U.S.C. § 3303(b)(1). Accordingly, all references to “country” or “countries” in the Visa Waiver Program authorizing legislation, Section 217 of the Immigration and Nationality Act, 8 U.S.C. 1187, are read to include Taiwan. This is consistent with the United States one-China policy, under which the United States has maintained unofficial relations with Taiwan since 1979.
There are certain eligibility criteria to be covered by a visitor to obtain the B-2 visa:
- The purpose of your trip must be for pleasure, tourism, or medical treatment.
- The applicant must have sufficient funds to bear expenses arriving during their stay.
- The visitor needs to be assured that he/she has a permanent residence in their home country and is here only for temporarily stay and will return back to their home country at the end of their stay.
- The applicant must also clear health and character-related concerns.
For information regarding the application procedure, please review the following steps:
- You have to complete an online DS-160 Form, Nonimmigrant Visa Electronic Application.
- If you are in the United States in another valid nonimmigrant status, you may apply to change to B-2 status.
- To change to B-2 status, you must file a Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status.
- Application to Extend/Change Non-immigrant Status must be filed before your authorized stay expires.
Note: Apply early, as soon as possible, well in advance of your proposed date of travel. Generally, a vast majority of visas are delivered in a week or less, a small number of applications require administrative processing. Please do not think or make plans for traveling until you have your visa in hand because no guarantee regarding the issuance of visas can be given in advance. Therefore, do not plan on purchasing a non-refundable ticket until a visa has been issued and you are in receipt of the passport.
Non-immigrant visas require an interview. Usually, interviewers most often do not consult supporting documents such as affidavits of support, travel arrangements, employment letters or financial statements.
Each visa applicant must submit to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate the following:
- A valid passport with a validity date of at least six months needed to enter the U.S. and beyond the applicant’s intended period of stay in the U.S. If more than one person is included in the passport, each person who needs a visa must complete an application for that.
- Form DS-160, Nonimmigrant Visa Application, confirmation page is needed.
- Application fee payment receipt is needed.
- One 2 x 2 photography is required.
Duration of Stay
The B-2 Tourist Visa is usually issued for a 6-month stay. At the time of entry into the U.S., immigration officer decides how long the visitor is allowed to stay in the country. Most visitors have their I-94 cards stamped with a 6-month stay; however, the immigration officer has the right to issue a shorter stay on a basis of the case studied. Upon entry into the United States, the foreign visitor has the right to ask for an extension of stay but may change status to permanent resident (Green Card holder) if he/she qualifies.
Spouse and Children
The spouses and children of a B-2 visa holder cannot get a ‘Dependent Visa’ to come along with the principle holder, but they may be able to secure their own B-2 visas in order to do so. Another way is that the B-2 visa can also be used by spouses or children of C-visa holders who wish to accompany crew members or aliens in transit to the U.S.