If you need to come to the U.S. to visit, the B-2 business visitor's visa is the visa you need. It is generally quick and inexpensive to procure. This visa permits entry into the U.S. for a period of time to conclude your visit. In general the B nonimmigrant visa category covers both visitors for business (B1) and pleasure (B-2). By far the vast majority of visitors who enter the United States each year do so as nonimmigrant visitors in the B visa category. This article however, is intended for those wishing to visit in B-2 status (Tourist Visa for Pleasure) Generally, stays in the United States in this category are brief, and involve such activities as touring, attending shows, visiting family and obtaining health care. A B2 tourist cannot be involved in employment while in the United States and cannot undertake an academic study program. This article sets out the legitimate activities that can be conducted in the B-2 visa category and the procedure for obtaining entry to the United States in this classification.
In most cases a tourist for pleasure is granted a period of stay of 6 months, even if the visitor indicated that the intended stay is for a shorter period. A longer period greater than 6 months can be granted but only under a "good cause" and under "unusual circumstances. "This could happen if the visitor is coming to the U.S. for some type of medical treatment that requires a period of longer than six months. And even in those cases the inspector at the border may only grant the usual six months and tell the person to apply for an extension. Extensions of stay can be granted, but for no more than six months at a time. The total time in this category is limited to one year. The B-2 family members may receive extensions coinciding with the authorized period of stay of the B-2 visitor.
Note that visitors admitted to the United States as part of the Visa Waiver Pilot Program (VWPP) or the Guam Visa Waiver Program has different rules applicable to them regarding duration of stay and extension of stay. The visa waiver program has been put into effect for visitors from many countries. Natives of these countries do not need a visa to enter the U.S. See below, for an explanation of the program.
The B category applicant, unlike some other nonimmigrant categories, requires that an application be made at the U.S. consulate. There is no special permission to be obtained from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service in the U.S. before a visa is issued. The visa application process is straightforward, and fast for many foreign nationals, particularly from Europe and Japan. The visa can be issued for long period of validity, such as ten years and for an unlimited number of entries.
What are the conditions you must abide by if granted a B-2 Visa?
The most important condition of the B category is that the visitor cannot engage in gainful employment (labor for hire) in the U.S. Obey the State Department’s five broad requirements for issuance of a B visa to a foreign national and you will not have a problem.
Permissible Activities on a B-2 Visa for Pleasure
Individuals in B-2 status are not restricted to tourist activity or social visits. Other permissible activities include, but are not limited to:
Tourism or Family Visits: individuals traveling to the United States for purposes of tourism or to make social visits to relative or friends.
Medical Reasons: individuals coming to the United States for health purposes.
Participation in Social Events: individuals participating in conventions, conferences, or convocation of fraternal, social or service organizations.
Armed Forces Dependents: Dependents of foreign members of any branch of the U.S. Armed Forces temporarily assigned for duty in the United States.
Dependents of Crewmen: foreign dependents of category D- Visa crewmen who are coming to the United States solely for the purpose of accompanying the D-Visa holder.
Short Course of Study: individuals coming to the United States primarily for tourism, who also incidentally will engage in a short course of study during their visit. B-2 Visa visitors should have the following annotation placed on their visa: “STUDY INCIDENTAL TO VISIT--Form I-20 IS NOT REQUIRED.”
B-2 Visa Visitors under Special Circumstances
The following classes of individuals may be classified as B-2 Visa visitors under the following special circumstances.
Generally, an individual may come to the United States to marry a U.S. citizen under the K-1 nonimmigrant visa classification.
However, the fiancée of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident may, be classified as a B-2 Visa visitor if the fiancée intends to return to a foreign residence soon after the marriage.
A B-2 visa may also be issued to an individual coming to the United States: (a) simply to meet the family of his or her fiancée; (b) to become engaged; (c) to make arrangements for the wedding; or (d) to renew a relationship with the prospective spouse.
Fiancée of Certain Nonimmigrants in United States
Fiancées who have a residence abroad to which they intend to return, and who are otherwise qualified to receive a visa, are eligible for B-2 visas if the purpose of the U.S. visit is to marry a nonimmigrant in valid F, H, J, L M, O, P or Q visa status.
The fiancée should apply soon after the marriage to the nearest office of Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to request a change in nonimmigrant status to that of the alien spouse.
A proxy marriage is one where either the bride or the groom is not physically present for the wedding. During the solemnization of the marriage, based upon a power of attorney, an agent acts on behalf of one of the parties.
A person married by proxy to a nonimmigrant in the United States may be issued a B-2 visitor visa in order to join the nonimmigrant in the United States.
Upon arrival in the United States, the joining spouse must apply to the Department of Homeland Security for permission to change to the appropriate derivative nonimmigrant status after consummation of the marriage.
Spouse or Child of U.S. Citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident.
A foreign spouse or child, including an adopted child, of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident may be classified as a B-2 Visa visitor if the purpose of the travel is to accompany or follow to join the spouse or parent for a temporary visit.
Cohabitating Partners, Extended Family Members, and Other Household Members not Eligible for Derivative Status.
Members of the household of another nonimmigrant, who are not eligible for derivative status, may apply for a B-2 Visitor Visa.
Individuals eligible in such a case include cohabitating partners or elderly parents of temporary workers, students, diplomats posted to the United States, etc.
A B-2 Visa may also be accorded to a spouse or child who qualifies for derivative status, but for whom it may be inconvenient or impossible to apply for the proper H-4, L-2, F-2 or other derivative visa.
If such individuals plan to stay in the United States for more than six months, they should be advised to ask the Department of Homeland Security for a one-year stay at the time they apply for admission.
If needed, they may apply for extensions of stay, in increments of up to six months, for the duration of the principal nonimmigrant’s status in the United States.
Individuals Seeking Naturalization under Immigration and Nationality Act § 329.
In order to facilitate the naturalization under INA § 329, a B-2 visa may be issued to the adopted child of a U.S. citizen who resides abroad and does not intend to reside permanently in the United States.
Issuance of B-2 Visa for Expeditious Naturalization of a Child under INA § 322.
INA § 322 provides for the naturalization of a child born outside of the United States.
A B-2 visa may be issued to a foreign-born child to facilitate that child’s expeditious naturalization pursuant to INA § 322.
However, the child must intend to return to a residence abroad after naturalization.
Dependents of Members of U.S. Armed Forces Eligible for Naturalization under INA § 328.
INA § 328 provides for the naturalization of foreign individuals who have served honorably at any time in the Armed Forces of the United States for a period or periods aggregating one year. There is no physical residence requirement under this section.
Dependents of foreign members of the U.S. Armed Forces who qualify for naturalization under INA § 328 and whose primary intent is to accompany the spouse or parent on the service member’s assignment to the United States may apply for a B-2 Visitor Visa.
Foreign Students Enrolled in a Vocational or Recreational School.
A foreign student enrolled in such a school as B-2 Visa Visitor if the purpose of attendance is recreational or vocational.
When the nature of a school’s program is difficult to determine, an F-1 Student Visa may be more appropriate.
Prospective F-1 Visa Students.
A prospective F-1 Visa student may enter the U.S. under the B-2 Visa classification to select a school, interview, take entrance examinations, or for registration purposes.
If a student is undecided about which school he or she will attend, a B-2 visa may be issued with a notiation reading "Prospective Student School Not Yet Selected."
Visitors must also establish "Non-Immigrant Intent." An alien is classifiable as a visitor for business if he or she overcomes that presumption of intending immigration, qualifies under the provisions of section 101(a)(15)(B) of the immigration and Nationality Act, and establishes all of the following:
1. The visitor is entering the U.S. for a limited duration.
2. The visitor intends to depart the U.S. at the expiration of his or her stay.
3. While in the U.S., the visitor maintains a foreign residence which he or she has no intention of abandoning.
4. The visitor has adequate financial arrangements to travel to, and visit and depart from the U.S.
5. The visitor will engage solely in legitimate activities relating to business or pleasure.
How long can your remain in the U.S. with a B-2 visa?
In most cases a tourist for pleasure is granted a period of stay of 6 months, even if the visitor indicated that the intended stay is for a shorter period. A longer period greater than 6 months can be granted but only under a "good cause" and under "unusual circumstances. "This could happen if the visitor is coming to the U.S. for some type of medical treatment that requires a period of longer than six months. And even in those cases the INS inspector at the border may only grant the usual six months and tell the person to apply for an extension. Extensions of stay can be granted, but for no more than six months at a time. The total time in this category is limited to one year. The B-2 family members may receive extensions coinciding with the authorized period of stay of the B-2 visitor.