B-2 Visa, Visitors & Tourists to the U.S.
This is the general "come see America" visa for pleasure, visiting friends and family, tourism and medical treatment. Or if a traveler through the U.S. on a C-1 Transit Visa seeks layover privileges for purposes other than transit through the U.S.
To qualify and apply all visitors must demonstrate; that they intend to remain for only a specific, limited period (generally a round trip airplane ticket substantiates this intent), a residence is maintained abroad, or other binding ties such as a family at home, car, job, schooling at university, etc. And they also must show that the travel is for pleasure or medical. Often a Letter of Invite is utilized or a tour itinerary. Medical travel will require statements from a physician stating the reason and type of medical treatment desired, proof you can pay for the treatment and the stay in the U.S. and why said treatment is not available in the home country.
To apply at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate the traveler will need:
- Passport size photos
- Passport must be valid for 6 months beyond the intended visit
- Proof of funds for the cost of the trip
- Valid ship passage or roundtrip airline ticket
- Pay a nonrefundable application fee of $45
- Submit Form OF-156, which is obtainable at any home country U.S. Embassy or Consulate
Some U.S. Embassies and Consulates have special rules about what days you can enter, entry procedures and entry fees. Check with your home country U.S. Embassy or Consulate. A visa issuance fee will also be owing upon approval.
Visa Length of Stay
Generally, the length of stay is a maximum of 6 months. However, a renewal of another 6 months can be procured for extenuating circumstances using USCIS Form I-539, with accompanying documents and paying all required filing fees.
Visa Waiver Pilot Program
Currently, 37 countries participate in a U.S. Visa Waiver Pilot (VWP) program that does not require a visa to enter our country for short term travel and tourism. Participants can only stay a maximum of 90 days and cannot work, study nor change their immigration status to another category upon arrival. The participating countries now are: Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brunei, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, and the United Kingdom.
Finally, please remember that the DHS, US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials have absolute discretion and authority to admit or deny any traveler requesting admission into the U.S. should they believe or determine that the traveler poses a threat to the U.S. or its entry visa paperwork is not in order. Just because you have obtained a valid visa from your home country U.S. Embassy or Consulate processing does not guarantee your entry. Border review is the final step. Inadmissibility can be for:
- Commission of fraud
- Drug trafficking
- Overstay on a previous visa
- Fraudulent document submission
- Criminal record or terrorism
If this occurs to you the CBP can detain you and put you on the next flight home, allow you remain in the airports secured area or allow you a temporary exit for a limited time to consult with an attorney. By all means seek legal consultation to explore your options for a Waiver of Inadmissibility. A Charleston Immigration Lawyer can definitely help in this regard.