Who Should Apply for a Visitor Visa
A US Visitor Visa is a non-immigrant visa for those who wish to enter the United States temporarily for business, tourism, or visit. Depending on the purpose of your visit, you may be eligible for a B-1 or B-2 visa, or both (B-1/B-2) if your reasons fall under both categories. Visas may be either single-entry or multiple-entry, depending on an individual’s eligibility. Applicants for visitor visas must be able to prove that they are not coming to the country to immigrate, but rather to visit for one of the purposes included under the visa.
Note that individuals traveling to the US from Canada or Bermuda are not required to have a visa to enter the country. If you are a citizen or national from a participating country, you may be eligible to apply for the Visa Waiver Program, which would exempt you from requiring a Visitor Visa.
When traveling for business, an individual should apply for a B-1 visa. Reasons to apply for a business visa include the following: consulting with business associates, attending a business conference or convention, negotiating contracts, purchasing property, and investigating business opportunities. If you plan to come to the United States for one of these business-related purposes, you may be eligible to apply for a B-1 visa. Learn more about your eligibility on our B-1 visa page.
Those who wish to travel to the US for tourism, vacation, or to visit family should apply for the B-2 visa. This visa also includes those who are entering the country for medical treatment or participation in certain types of social or service events. Visit our B-2 visa page to learn more about the qualifications required to apply.
Application and Entering the United States
The application process for a B-2 or B-2 visitor visa may vary depending on the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you apply. To apply, you will likely be required to fill out the online non-immigrant visa application. Once you enter the United States you may request to extend your stay past the duration you have indicated, but are required to leave the US by the indicated date unless your request is approved. Be advised that, upon entering the United States, officials at the port-of-entry do have the authority to allow or deny entry to the US. Therefore, we often recommend hiring an immigration lawyer to help ensure your application is prepared properly. We know how to make the process go as smoothly as possible, and improve the chances of a visa approval.
- Passport which is valid for travel to the United States – passport must be valid for at least 6 months beyond your period of stay in the United States (unless exempt by country-specific agreements). Each individual who needs a visa must submit a separate application, including any family members listed in your passport.
- Nonimmigrant Visa Application, Form DS-160 confirmation page.
- Application fee payment receipt – if you are required to pay before your interview.
- Photo – You will upload your photo while completing the online Form DS-160. If the photo upload fails, you must bring one printed photo in the format explained in the Photograph Requirements.
Additional Documents Which May Be Required
Review the instructions for how to apply for a visa on the website of the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you will apply. Additional documents may be requested to establish if you are qualified. For example, additional requested documents may include evidence of:
- The purpose of your trip,
- Your intent to depart the United States after your trip, and/or
- Your ability to pay all costs of the trip.
Evidence of your employment and/or your family ties may be sufficient to show the purpose of your trip and your intent to return to your home country. If you cannot cover all the costs for your trip, you may show evidence that another person will cover some or all costs for your trip.
Note: Visa applicants must qualify on the basis of the applicant’s residence and ties abroad, rather than assurances from U.S. family and friends. A letter of invitation or Affidavit of Support is not needed to apply for a visitor visa. If you choose to bring a letter of invitation or Affidavit of Support to your interview, please remember it is not one of the factors used in determining whether to issue or deny the visa.
Attending Your Visa Interview
A consular officer will interview you to determine whether you are qualified to receive a visitor visa. You must establish that you meet the requirements under U.S. law to receive a visitor visa.
Ink-free, digital fingerprint scans are taken as part of the application process. They are usually taken during your interview, but this varies based on location.
After your visa interview, the consular officer may determine that your application requires further administrative processing. The consular officer will inform you if this required.
After the visa is approved, you may need to pay a visa issuance fee (if applicable to your nationality), and make arrangements for the return of the passport and visa to you.
Studying in the United States
Many international students apply each year to study abroad in the US. However, to be able to do so, students will need either the F-1 or M-1 student visa. These visas do not technically fall under the category of a visitor visa and therefore have different rules and requirements. If you would like more information on this topic, visit our page on studying in the US with a student visa.
Bringing a Pet to the United States
Although questions about bringing a dog or pet over to the U.S. are pretty uncommon, it is something that still needs to be addressed. Dogs and other pets alike also have immigration standards their owner must follow in order to be allowed entry into the United States. If you are interested in learning more, visit our page on how to bring a dog into the United States.
Have You Been Refused a US Visitor Visa?
Not all US visitor visa applications are accepted by USCIS. If you or someone you know has been refused a visitor visa, visit our page on US visa refusal letter and what to do. It is important to determine why you have had your application turned down in order to figure out what your next step is and reduce the chances of it happening again.
Have You Been Denied Entry to the United States After Applying for a Visitor Visa?
There are a variety of reasons you may be denied entry to the US, some more serious than others. It can be a very frustrating and confusing time trying to come up with a solution to this situation. If you have been denied entry to the United States and would like to learn more information on why this happened or what you can do to fix it, please visit our page that explains everything you need to know about being denied entry to the US.