It’s no secret that the U.S. is a hot spot for tourism and business, but don’t let that fool you about the Tourist Visa application – the process can be discouraging. We’ve seen it happen before – a business meeting missed, a vacation cancelled, a college campus tour lost, all because a Tourist Visa wasn’t approved or got delayed.
Before you dive in to the process, let our immigration attorneys give you some advice and guidance on how to navigate the petition. We’ll ensure that the package is complete, the forms filled out correctly and the purpose of your visit explained carefully.
About Tourist Visas
Tourist or visitor visas are nonimmigrant visas for those foreign nationals wishing to travel within the U.S. temporarily, either for pleasure, business or a combination thereof. To receive a tourist visa, the nonimmigrant has to show proof that the visit is for a specific purpose and that he or she fully intends to return home. It is easier for some nonimmigrants to obtain a tourist visa than others, depending on the country of origin.
Visas for business purposes are called B-1 visas. Tourism, pleasure or visiting visas are called B-2 visas. The applicable visa application form is the DS-160. You will also need to supply a photograph in a certain format. These forms can be found on the internet on the U.S. Consulate or Embassy website.
Applicants between the ages of 14 and 79 are scheduled for an interview at the office of the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in their country of origin before the visa is issued.
Tourist Visa Qualifications (B-1)
For the U.S. Embassy or consulate to issue you a B-1 visa, you need to explain the purpose of your visit:
- To visit friends or family
- Attendance at a conference
- To take classes
You should have a plan in mind and a date by which you plan to exit the country. This can include an itinerary of the places or events you plan to visit with the estimated dates so that the visits can be done within the time allotted on the visa. Also, have a budget for the expenses of traveling within the U.S. and allow for unexpected expenses. Generally, it is safe to assume that it will be more expensive in some areas of the U.S. than others.
The immigration official will also not issue you a visa unless you can provide proof that you have a home or residence in your country of origin or have significant family ties or connections, and that you have permission to travel from your country and to return. You also need to show that you possess the financial means to travel to and from the U.S., or that someone else is willing and able to pay for your expenses.
You may not use the B-1 visa to sell products or engage in any business enterprise or work for a fee. You cannot provide consultations, attend trade conventions, or be a reporter for a foreign publication under a B-1 visa. You can, however, combine a B-1 visa with a B-2 visa if you want to engage in some kind of business activity.
Other uses of a B-1 visa include:
- Planning to get married but not applying for a green card and intending to return home
- Accompanying someone who has a B-2 visa, such as family members
- Students investigating American colleges for possible enrollment at a later time
If you wish to come to the U.S. to treat a medical condition, you need to show the following:
- You have a medical diagnosis that requires treatment in the U.S.
- You have authorization or confirmation that an American doctor or medical clinic is willing to treat you for this condition
- An estimate of the cost of transportation and medical care and how it will be paid
- Required Documentation
- You must show the following documentation to apply for a tourist visa:
- A passport that is valid for at least six months beyond your period of stay in the U.S.; there are some exceptions for certain countries
- Form DS-160, Nonimmigrant Visa Application
- Application fee payment receipt ($160 USD). This may not be required until after your interview
- Photo that fits a certain format
- Other documents that may be required include evidence supporting:
- Purpose of your trip
- Intent to depart and return to native country
- If going to a third country, have a visa from that nation or permission
- Evidence of financial means or that someone else is paying your expenses
- A letter from your employer or evidence of family connections at home
Once your application has been received, you will receive notice for an interview unless you are exempted because of age (80 years of age or older).