USA and the UK
- Do You Need a Visa to Visit the USA?
- What is a B-2 Visitor Visa?
- Checklist of Required Documentation for US Tourist Visa
- Special Documents Needed for Patients Seeking Medical Treatment Through B-2 Visa
- How to Apply for a US B2 Visa?
- Preparation for the US B2 Visa Interview
- B-2 Visa Cost
- Processing Time for B-2 Visa
- Additional Information For Potential Visa Applicants
- Traveling to the USA without a B-2 Visa
- What Happens If My Tourist Visa Expires?
- How Can IAS Help?
- Frequently Asked Questions
Do You Need a Visa to Visit the USA?
Yes, anyone who wishes to enter the US must possess a visa or a similar document that proves that they have been allowed to enter the country by the US government. However, the process, eligibility requirements and documents required for each individual might vary based on their country of origin.
For example, people from 40 countries are allowed to enter the US if they possess an ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization) visa waiver. This is an alternative to the conventional visa, and under this program, people belonging to any of the countries on the list can reside in the US for up to 90 days without a visa if they provide the necessary supporting documents and pay any associated fees.
In general, you will definitely need prior approval or a B2 Visa to enter the US for tourism, visiting family and friends, getting medical treatment and participating in or attending any kind of social events that are conducted in the US.
What is a B-2 Visitor Visa?
The B2 Visitor Visa allows visitors to reside temporarily in the US. At maximum, visitors can be allowed to stay for up to 180 on the B2 Visa, solely based upon the discretion of the US government.
The following are the justifications for traveling on a B2 Visa:
- Taking a vacation or taking part in tourism activities
- Visiting relatives
- Getting medical treatment based on a diagnosis by a local physician in the home country
- Participating in or attending activities, such as concerts or classes, without being compensated or receiving credit
- Taking a quick leisurely study session, like a culinary class
Applicants are not allowed to use this visa to travel for any of the following purposes:
- Long-term undergraduate and graduate studies
- A long-term job with a US company
- Any professional performance, either for money or in front of an audience that is paying
- Joining ship or aircraft work
- Working in journalism, radio, cinema, print, or other informational media as a foreign press reporter.
- Living permanently in the United States
Checklist of Required Documentation for US Tourist Visa
- A passport that is still valid six months after the expected date of return. If it expires any earlier, you will need to first apply for a new passport and then initiate your visa process.
- A current (i.e., not older than six months) and acceptable government-required digital image
- Documentation showing the last five travels, and the visa applications made to the US, if any.
- Evidence showing sufficient finances to pay for the whole trip’s expenditures, including transport, lodging, and living costs
- Evidence of the applicant’s strong links to their nation of origin, such as a job, property, or family members
- Present evidence of income, pay slips, tax payments, ownership of real estate, businesses, or assets
Special Documents Needed for Patients Seeking Medical Treatment Through B-2 Visa
- A medical diagnosis outlining the nature of your condition and why you need treatment in the USA from a local doctor.
- An official letter stating that a doctor or medical facility in the US is willing to treat this particular condition and outlining the expected time and cost of care (including doctor’s fees, hospital fees, and any medical-related costs).
- A declaration of financial accountability from the people or group covering your living, medical, and transportation costs. The parties ensuring payment of these costs must demonstrate their financial stability, frequently by submitting certified copies of their income tax returns or bank or other proofs of income or savings.
Filling out the online application
Applicants must first go to the online website of the US Embassy, find the DS-160 form online, and fill it out.
This is a prerequisite, as all applicants must bring a duly filled and printed application form to their interview.
It is also important to bring along a passport-sized photograph that is in line with the requirements, which state that all photographs submitted must be colored and taken within the last six months, with a white background, and 5×5 cm in size.
Booking an interview
Each visa applicant will be given a visa appointment once all the required documents are uploaded.
For individuals who are below the age of 13 and above the age of 80, visa interviews are often not required.
Applicants will be shown a list of available time slots for the interview and they can choose one that suits their needs. It is important to note that the appointment wait time can vary based on the location, the time of year and the kind of visa being applied for. Hence, it is advised to apply for the visa in advance and before booking any travel to the US.
Submitting additional documents
Visa applicants must also present additional documents at the visa interview, which must be prepared in advance. These documents include bank statements, visa application fee payment receipts, invitation letters, a NOC from the current employer and a valid passport.
In some cases, applicants will also be asked to submit their complete itinerary stating the purpose of the visit, when they will depart, when they will return and where they will stay during the entire trip.
Preparation for the US B2 Visa Interview
The US Tourist Visa interview can be the most intimidating aspect of the entire visa application process, and it is conducted at the local US embassy or the consulate office.
It is advised for applicants to prepare themselves in advance before going to the interview venue so that they are ready to speak with the consular officer and respond to their questions. Provided below are a series of most frequently asked questions by the consular officers.
- How long do you plan to stay?
- Have you been to the US before?
- Where is your permanent residence?
- What is the purpose of your visit?
- Do you currently have friends or family living in the US? If so, where do they live, and what do they do?
- Who will be traveling with you?
- How do you plan to cover the cost of your trip and living expenses during your stay? Will you do it yourself, or will someone sponsor your stay?
- Have you booked your return tickets?
- How can you guarantee that you’ll go back to your own country within the visa validity period?
These are just a few of the possible questions that the consular officer might ask the visa applicant. Based on his or her own understanding, they might ask other questions and request more documents.
In case thinking about such an interview intimidates you, and you feel that you need additional guidance, please feel free to contact our visa advisors at IAS. Use the online chat feature to reach out to us at any time. If you would like to talk with one of our agents right away, you may also phone us at +1 844 290 6312.
B-2 Visa Cost
A B-2 Visa requires a $160 filing fee from the government. Visa applicants must note that this cost does not cover the price of compiling additional paperwork and evidence requested by the government or the consular officer, as well as getting passport photographs.
Processing Time for B-2 Visa
Currently, there is a two-month wait period for individuals applying for the B-2 Visa. However, the exact waiting period for the interview appointment can vary significantly based on the country and city of the applicant’s residence. Be aware that wait times could be greater if you are applying for an interview in a nation other than your native country.
You can take help to get estimated answers using the State Department Tool offered by the US government’s official website. You can also contact IAS to help you out with managing your US Tourist Visa application to make the whole process effortless. Reach out to us using the live chat or call us at +1 844 290 6312.
The Visa Waiver Program for Applicants From 40 Countries
Passport holders of around 40 countries have been allowed to enter the US to visit or tour the country without a visa. This program is called the Visa Waiver Program. This means that these individuals will not need to apply for the B-2 Visa and go through the process explained in the previous sections of this article. The complete list of the participating countries can be found on the official website of the US government.
However, these individuals must also provide certain supporting documents that must be submitted no later than 72 hours before the expected date of travel, which include:
- A machine-readable passport that consists of biographical and other information, a digital chip and biometric information
- A return ticket from the airline approved by the Visa Waiver Program
- Proof of payment of $21 is required for receiving the ESTA.
The entire application process should not take more than 20 to 30 minutes if you have all the documents ready beforehand. Visitors must also remember that they cannot use this service if they wish to stay for longer than 90 days in the US.
Electronic Visa Update System for Chinese Passport Holders
Electronic Visa Update System (EVUS) was created to enable visitors visiting the United States to give immigration officials their most up-to-date personal data, such as name, passport number, residence and employment status.
Chinese nationals with a 10-year B1, B2 (Visit Visa), or both (B1 & B2) visas frequently update their basic biographic information on the EVUS in order to speed up their journey to the US. Such travelers will need to join the EVUS in order to enter the United States, in addition to having a passport, valid visa and other required documents.
To enroll in the EVUS, the applicant must have a passport issued by the People’s Republic of China, a valid B1/B2 Visa 10-year visa and internet access.
The traveler must fill out an EVUS enrollment form with their name, birthdate, emergency contact information, passport information, biographical information, and employment information. Additionally, queries on eligibility for travel will be asked of travelers. A traveler’s EVUS enrolment can, however, be submitted on their behalf by a friend, relative, member of the travel industry, or other third party. Travelers are accountable for the veracity and accuracy of any information provided on their behalf.
Traveling to the USA without a B-2 Visa
In order to travel to the United States, you must possess a valid visa or similar permission from the government that allows you to enter and remain in the country for tourism purposes.
Only visa holders and individuals with an ESTA will be allowed to enter the country. If you travel without a valid visa or ESTA, you will be denied boarding by the airline crew at the airport.
What Happens If My Tourist Visa Expires?
There are multiple situations in which this can happen. Your visa can expire before you even travel to the US. In most cases, the B2 visa is valid for up to 10 years. This means that once you get the visa, you can enter the country anytime within the 10-year time frame. However, you can only stay in the country for a period of six months.
However, certain unforeseen incidents can cause you to delay your trip. In that case, if you exceed the given 10-year period, you will have to re-apply for the new visa and go through the entire visa process again.
Another situation is where you might enter the US with a valid B2 Visa, but you overstay due to one or more valid reasons. In such a case, you must apply to extend visa validity.
B2 Visa holders may apply for a continuance of stay to remain in the United States past the initial visa’s expiration date. You are allowed to request an extension for a maximum of six months. The Form I-539 must be presented in order to request an extension or modify the status.
Acquiring a US Tourist Visa undoubtedly entails a lengthy and intimidating process that can make one feel hopeless or lost. In such a scenario, it is always advisable to take help from experienced visa solicitors to make the entire process easy and hassle-free. IAS offers detailed help for our customers who are trying to apply for a US Tourist Visa.
Our consultants will make sure that all your documents are complete and that you are completely ready for the interview so that you are not denied the visa. IAS can also help with applying for visa extensions and addressing other similar legal matters. Reach out to us using the live chat or call us at +1 844 290 6312.
Last modified on August 29th, 2023 at 9:20 am
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The cost of a visa extension is $370 and an additional fee of $85 must also be paid as a biometric service fee.
The US Tourist Visa is for people who wish to visit the country for a short duration (i.e., six months). On the contrary, the student visa allows people to pursue educational courses, and the validity of the student visa depends on the duration of the course.
You can only apply for the ESTA if you are eligible for it based on the list of participating countries. You may, however, apply for a B1 visa if you are going for a business trip or a B2 visa if you are going for a short visit or for tourism purposes.