Visit the U.S.

Generally, if you want to visit (and not live in) the United States you must first obtain a visitor visa. Travelers from certain countries may be exempt from this requirement.

How do I get a visa to visit the U.S.?

When a visa is required, apply at the U.S. consulate or embassy abroad. The consular officer may require you to present various kinds of evidence to prove you are eligible for a B-1 or B-2 visa.

B2 Tourist Visa?

Generally, a citizen of a foreign country who wishes to enter the United States must first obtain a visa, either a non immigrant visa for temporary stay, or an immigrant visa for permanent residence. Visitor visas are non immigrant visas for persons who want to enter the United States temporarily for business (visa category B-1), tourism, pleasure or visiting (visa category B-2), or a combination of both purposes (B-1/B-2). The B-2 visa category does not have a corresponding dependent visa category. Dependents accompanying B-2 visa holders will have to qualify on their own basis for a B visa. The B-2 visa can be used by dependents of certain other non-immigrant visa holders.

Tourist or business travelers who are citizens of countries participating in the Visa Waiver Program may be eligible to visit the United States without a visa. Visits must be 90 days or less, and travelers must meet all requirements.

B-2 Tourist Visa Description

  • The B-2 Visa for pleasure (tourist) allows foreign visitors to enter the United States for a temporary visit for pleasure or tourism purposes.
  • The B-2 visa may be issued in either single entry or multiple entry formats.
  • The B-2 visa may also be issued for a limited time frame or on an indefinite basis.

B-2 Tourist Visa Advantages

  • No sponsor required: Any foreign person may file an application for a B-2 tourist visa without the necessity of a United States sponsor.
  • Ease of Application: The B-2 visa application itself is filed directly at the United States consulate abroad and typically a decision is made on an immediate or short term basis.
  • Change of Status: While present in the United States, should the visitor’s intentions change as a result of post-admission circumstances, it is possible to seek a change of status to other non-immigrant classifications.

B-2 Tourist Visa Requirements

  • Valid Passport: The visa is issued by placement within a valid passport.
  • Non-Immigrant Intent: The foreign national must satisfy the consular officer that he will return abroad upon the completion of his temporary visit for pleasure and will not engage in unauthorized employment in the United States.
  • Financial Capability: The visa will only be issued to applicants who can demonstrate the financial resources that would accommodate round trip travel to and from the United States as well as payment of all living expenses during the temporary visit.

B-2 Tourist Visa Limitations

  • Limited Stay: The B-2 tourist visa allows the temporary visitor to enter the United States for an initial stay of no more than six months.
  • Limited Accessibility: The B-2 visitor is expected to maintain his residence abroad. Many Border Patrol agents interpret this to mean that the visitor should, over the long course, average no more than six months per year in the United States. While it is possible to obtain a six month extension, and then depart the country and re-apply for admission immediately, the inspecting Immigration officer may deny admission for failure to maintain sufficient presence abroad.
  • No Employment: No employment is authorized in the United States while present on a B-2 visitor’s visa.
  • Family Not Included: Each family member must apply for and receive his/her own B2 tourist visa in order to enter the United States.


The documentation submitted in a B-2 application should demonstrate the temporariness of the trip, an intention to return to an unabandoned foreign residence and financial ability to support oneself during the period of stay requested.

This may include the following:
  • Ownership or lease documents for the alien’s residence in the home country;
  • Evidence of work, studies, or activities to be resumed upon the alien’s return to the home country;
  • Evidence of family members left behind in the home country;
  • Evidence of other businesses or holdings in the home country;
  • Documentation of the temporariness of the visit;
  • A round-trip ticket;
  • A travel itinerary;
  • Evidence that the alien will be re-admitted to their home country after the trip (if that is where the alien intends to return);
  • A letter from friends, relatives or others in the United States inviting the alien and detailing the length and purpose of the stay (an immigrant visa appointment letter from the consulate is necessary if that is the purpose of the alien’s entry); and
  • Bank records or other documents, showing money on hand that demonstrates the alien’s ability to afford the trip.