B-2 Tourist Visa – Visiting the U.S.
If you are a resident of a foreign country wishing to visit the United States for a tourism – ie, non-business-related – reason, you must first complete a B-2 visa application.
A B-2 U.S. visa, also referred to as a tourist visa, is issued when the reason for travel includes the following:
- visit with friends or relatives
- medical treatment
- participation in social events hosted by fraternal
- social or service organizations
- participation by amateurs in musical, sports or other similar events
- or enrollment in short recreational courses
A B-1 U.S. Visa, on the other hand, is required for visits involving business consultations, events, contracts, or to settle an estate.
Student visas for attending a university in the U.S. are not covered by either a B-2 or B-1 application and require a separate application for either an F-1 or M-1 visa with student visa photo, depending on your anticipated course of study.
Similarly, visa requirements for visiting Canada are different and can be explored on the Citizenship and Immigration Canada website.
Finally, an H-1B visa is required for temporary employment within the U.S. and must be directly initiated by your potential employer strictly for business reasons.
Certain criteria cannot be used for U.S. visitation from a foreign country under any of the aforementioned visas, including study, employment, paid performances, permanent residence and other reasons set forth by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
Each person traveling will need to submit his or her own tourist visa application, including a valid passport photo, and gain approval prior to departure.
Because of variations in how quickly each country processes its visa applications, it is advisable to postpone making travel plans until your tourist visa is obtained in case of unexpected delays.
How to Apply for a B-2 Visa
Completion of Form DS-160
To apply for a B-2 visa, the first step is generally to complete an online visa application, Form DS-160, although the exact steps may vary according to the specific U.S. embassy where you are applying.
Once you complete the application, you must print the confirmation to bring with you to an in-person interview.
Provide a Visa Photo
U.S. immigration officials also require a visa photo, commonly referred to as a “passport photo,” which must be uploaded while completing the DS-160.
A current, high-quality Visa or Passport photo must accompany your DS-160 student visa application.
Color 2” x 2”
Gloss or Matte photo quality paper
Taken against a white background
No shadows on face or background
Nothing covering your face, glare on glasses, or hats/headgear unless worn daily for religious purposes
A professional passport/visa photo service is recommended to ensure that you deliver a passport photo that meets the above criteria. Please see above links for more detailed information.
In Person Interview
Part of the process for obtaining a B-2 visa for visiting the United States is a personal interview with an embassy or consulate representative.
An interview is generally required for applicants ages 14-79, but not for those 13 and younger or 80 and older.
Wait times for your tourist visa interview vary by location, season and visa category, so it is advised to apply early.
The application fee for U.S B-1 Tourist Visas is: $160
Payment is non-refundable, regardless if application is accepted or denied.
Be sure to read up on additional issuance or reciprocity fees by country prior to arriving for your
scheduled interview as pre-payment may be required.
Visa Document Preparation
U.S. immigration officials require the following documents before your visa application interview:
- A valid passport for travel to the U.S. with an expiration date no less than six months after your scheduled return unless exempted by a separate country-specific agreement.
- A confirmation page for your Form DS-160 submission.
- A visa application payment receipt if required prior to the interview.
- A passport photo conforming to DS-160 requirements; if upload is not possible, bring a printed photo that meets the visa photo specifications.
Please note that additional documentation may be required. It is important to carefully read the instructions for obtaining a U.S. B-2 Visa with the appropriate embassy or consulate where you will be submitting your application.
Other information that may be requested includes the purpose of your trip, a statement confirming your intent to depart the United States after your visit, and evidence of your financial resources to pay for your trip.
Employment documents and family or friend confirmation may be sufficient to establish the purpose of your trip and your intent to return following your visit.
If you cannot cover all of your expenses, you may submit additional information regarding payment plans for your U.S. visit that will still enable you to
obtain your B-2 visa.
B-1 Visa Interview
Your Visa Interview
The purpose of your interview is to ensure that your reason for visiting the U.S. conforms to the requirements for a B-2 visa.
You will also be asked to submit to ink-free digital fingerprinting and payment may also be required at this time.
During your interview, you should inquire as to when and how your visa will be delivered to ensure that your expected receipt is not later than your anticipated travel date.
Once your interview is completed, there is generally a period of processing time prior to receiving your travel-ready visa.
Receiving Your Visa
There is no guarantee that your visa application will be approved so it’s best to wait before making final travel arrangements to the U.S.
Your B-2 visa will be valid until the expiration date printed on the document. If your passport expires but the U.S. visa has not yet expired, your visa is still valid for use provided that your receive a new passport.