Introduction to the USA Tourist Visa B2
The B2 tourist visa to USA is a non-immigrant visa issued to persons who are unable to apply for ESTA visa due to lack of requirements and who enter the United States temporarily for tourism, pleasure or medical treatment. As for the US commercial or business visa, the one indicated is the B1 visa.
In this article we will look specifically at the characteristics and the modalities of application only for the B2 tourist visa to USA.
Characteristics of B2 Tourist Visa to USA
Non-immigrant visa, issued to all those foreign citizens who wish to enter the United States on a temporary basis for tourism, for visits to friends and family, to attend special events such as functions and ceremonies or for medical treatment. As mentioned in the introduction, the B2 U.S. Tourist visa is required by those people who are unable to apply for ESTA, either because they do not meet the requirements or because they are citizens of a country that is not part of the Visa Waiver Program. If travel to the United States is less than 90 days, ESTA-eligible citizens will not need to apply for a B2 visa.
The length of stay in the U.S. with a B2 visa cannot exceed 6 months. It is possible to request an extension of the tourist visa for another 6 months, by applying to the authorities, accompanied by valid reasons.
In order to obtain a USA B2 Visa the applicant must have a valid passport, fill out an application form, pay the required fee and attend an interview at the nearest US Consulate (we will deal with the procedure later).
Let us now list the main features of the USA B2 Visa :
The Visitor Visa or Tourist Visa B2 is an entry permit to the USA for non-immigrants.
The U.S. Visa B2 is subject to approval and must be applied for in person. Once obtained, the visa will be inserted (literally attached) in the passport.
The Visitor Visa is only granted for a specific purpose, such as tourism, medical treatment, etc.
You are not allowed to work in the United States on the USA B2 visa.
You may not be involved in any business activities. If the purpose of your trip is for business, you must apply for a USA B1 visa for commercial purposes.
You cannot study in the United States with this visa.
You may participate in events hosted by social or service organizations (non-profit or volunteer).
You may participate in music, sports or similar events or competitions, if you are not paid for your participation.
You may enroll in a short recreational course of study, not for credit toward a degree (e.g., a cooking class or similar).
The maximum length of stay in the United States may be 6 months.
How do I obtain a US Visa B2 ?
The tourist visa for the United States is subject to approval by the authorities. To apply for it you must necessarily follow a very specific process, made of forms to be filled in, documents to be presented and interviews to be held at the nearest U.S. consulate.
Below is the process of applying for a visitor's visa and how it is granted. All you need to do is:
Step 1. Obtain a digital photograph
A digital photograph is required to apply for a B2 U.S. tourist visa. The photograph must meet certain criteria. It is advisable to contact a photographer and request a digital photograph for the US tourist visa application. The photograph must meet the following requirements:
- The digital photograph must be square.
- The size must be between a minimum of 600 pixels by 600 pixels to a maximum of 1200 pixels by 1200 pixels.
- The image must be in color (24 bits per pixel) in JPEG format (.jpg or .jpeg file extension)
- The file size of the image must be less than or equal to 240 kilobytes.
Note : Some embassies or consulates no longer require a digital photograph to be uploaded when completing the DS-160 form. In these cases, the photograph will be taken at the OFC (Offsite Facilitation Center) or ASC (Application Service Center) along with the fingerprint scan at the same center.
Step 2. Complete the DS160 visa application form
To apply for a USA tourist visa B2, you will need to fill out an online application form, specifically the DS160 form. Each applicant, including children, must complete the DS-160 visa application. After successfully submitting your application, you will receive a 10-digit barcode confirming the successful submission of your application. The barcode number on the DS-160 confirmation page is essential to book the interview. The confirmation page should be printed and brought to the interview. The U.S. Embassy will not accept handwritten or typed applications and you will not be allowed to attend the interview without a DS-160 confirmation page.
When you electronically sign your DS-160, you are certifying that all information on it is true and correct. Misrepresenting the facts may make you ineligible to enter the United States. Please double-check that all answers are accurate and that each question is fully answered.
Complete the DS-160 form to apply for the U.S. Tourist Visa B2
Now let's take a closer look at how to fill out the DS160 application form for a B2 U.S. Tourist Visa :
The embassy or consulate you select at the beginning of the DS-160 form must be the same place within the consular district where you plan to schedule your interview appointment. For example, if you select "UK, london" you will need to have your interview there. See the list.
You will need to upload a photograph taken within the last six months as part of the DS-160 process. See step 1
Passport details (exact name as written in the passport, date of birth, date of issue, expiration date, passport number, etc.).
Current travel itinerary
Itinerary of trips made in the past five years, both in the United States and to other destinations.
List all social media accounts you are registered to including Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc.
Information about the applicant and his/her family (details about parents, occupation, home address, work address, income, etc.).
Address where you will be staying in the United States
Name and address of your relatives in the U.S., if any.
For those already residing in the U.S. only, provide your social security number and U.S. tax identification number (for possible renewal or sponsorship for family members).
Date of most recent travel to the U.S., if any.
The completed DS-160 application form will generate a confirmation page with an alphanumeric barcode. This confirmation page should be printed and kept carefully, as it will need to be produced at the interview at the U.S. Embassy/Consulate.
The time required to complete the DS-160 form is approximately 30 minutes. If you stop working on the application for more than 20 minutes, your session will expire and you will have to start over, unless you have saved the application. To retrieve the save, you will need to enter the application ID number displayed in the upper right corner of the page when filling out the form. If you need to close your browser before submitting the application, you will need this application ID to retrieve and submit the application.
If you are traveling with your family or in a group, it will be possible to submit a group application, but each member will need to fill out their own DS-160. Most of the questions on the DS-160 are mandatory and the answer fields must be filled in. Blanks may be left when questions are marked as "optional." If a mandatory question cannot be answered, write "Does Not Apply" in the answer field. Any specific questions about completing the DS-160 form can be read on the government website at DS-160: Frequently Asked Questions
Step 3. Paying the Visitor Visa Application Fee
After completing and submitting the DS-160 form, you will need to register on the government institutional site where you will be able to pay the consular fee (approximately $160) and schedule an interview at the chosen territorial consulate. The payment will not be refunded in case of a refusal to grant the US tourist visa. Keep the payment receipt carefully.
Step 4. The interview at the consulate
You should bring the following documents with you for the interview :
- A passport valid for at least 6 months beyond the intended period of stay (and old passports if there are any).
- A photograph. Both digital and paper copies are required.
- The barcode page showing that the DS-160 application has been submitted (you will not need a printout of the complete application).
- Receipt for payment of the consular fee for the visa application.
- A letter confirming the appointment .
- Supporting documents : Establishing the applicant's personal, financial and criminal history :
- Current proof of income, payment of taxes, private property or business property: bank statement for the last three months, tax code, copy of tax documents for previous years
- Documents certifying family and social status such as: Family status, marriage or divorce certificate, residence certificate, birth certificate..
- Travel itinerary and/or other explanations of your planned trip, such as a letter of invitation to attend family reunions, conferences, etc.
- A letter from your employer specifying your position, salary, how long you have been employed, any authorized leave, pay stubs for the past three months, and the business purpose, if any, of your trip to the U.S.
- Criminal/judicial records related to any arrest or conviction in any country in the world, even if the sentence has been served.
- Parents applying for a visa for a child under the age of 14 must bring the child's birth certificate to prove the parent-child relationship..
If the purpose of the U.S. B2 visa application is for medical treatment, the supporting documents to be presented at the interview are:
- An official medical diagnosis explaining the nature of the disorder (condition) and why you need treatment in the United States.
- A letter from a doctor or medical facility in the United States expressing a willingness to treat this disorder and specifying the expected duration and cost of treatment (including doctors' fees, hospitalization costs, and all medical expenses).
- A statement of financial responsibility of the persons or organization paying the transportation, medical, and living expenses. Persons guaranteeing payment of these expenses must provide proof of their ability to do so, often in the form of bank or other income/savings statements or certified copies of tax returns..
Original documents are always preferred over photocopies.
The interviewer will ask questions and verify the documents. Answer truthfully and confidently. Answer only the questions that are asked. Do not provide more information than requested and do not submit documents that you were not asked for. The main purpose of the interview is to verify all of the information submitted in the application and to make sure that you are eligible for the tourist visa you want.
Consular officers review each application individually and consider professional, social, cultural and other factors during the assessment. Consular officers may examine your specific intentions, family situation, and long-term plans and prospects in your country of residence. Warning: do not submit false documents. False statements may result in permanent visa ineligibility.
If the officer approves your application, the outcome will be communicated immediately. In this case, your passport will be held for review and will usually be delivered to your address of residence by courier within 3-4 business days. In some circumstances, you may be authorized to pick up your passport in person. If your visa is denied or suspended, you will be notified accordingly. You will be able to pick up your passport immediately after the interview.
Difference between ESTA and the B2 tourist visa to USA
The entry in the American territory is always bound by the presence of a visa. Whether it is an ordinary visa or an ESTA, it does not matter, without one of the two, you cannot enter the USA.
If the purpose of the trip is for tourism or commercial purposes, and the applicant is a citizen of one of the 39 countries participating in the Visa Waiver Program and the duration of the stay is less than 90 consecutive days, in this case the best choice is the ESTA application. On the contrary, if the duration of the stay exceeds 90 days but does not exceed 6 months, and you are a citizen of a country that is not a member of the Visa Waiver Program, then it will be necessary to apply for a B2 U.S. tourist visa. The characteristics and requirements between the two entry permits are similar. Their differences lie in the length of stay and the countries they belong to. However, it is necessary to make some clarifications. One of these is that sometimes the granting of the ESTA authorization is denied for various reasons, some of which are related to the presence of criminal records of the applicant, or because he/she has stayed in countries not appreciated by the American authorities. In these cases, in order to enter the United States, it will be necessary to start the application process for a B2 U.S. visa if the purpose is tourism or B1 if it is commercial.
ESTA form can be the best alternative to travel to the USA, if you have all the requirements to apply for it, because to obtain it you just need to fill in a simple online form and the time to grant it is very short, from a few hours to a few days. For further information on the ESTA meaning, consult our ESTA guide