A brief visit to the U.S. for business or tourism often requires getting a B-1 visa (for business travelers) or a B-2 visa (for tourists). If you are coming from a country that participates in the visa waiver program, however, you may not need a visa at all if you are coming only for a short trip. Read more here about the visa waiver program.
If you are eligible for a B-1 or B-2 visa, the process is usually simple. Most denials of B visas are based on a failure to comply with formal procedures, though, so you should make sure to take each step required. You will need to not only submit the main form for the visa but also provide additional documents to show the duration of your stay and your intent to return to your home country. You must pay certain fees associated with your application. At the end of the process, you will need to attend an interview at a U.S. consulate in your home country. Read more here about the consular interview.
Documents for a B-1 or B-2 Visa Application
The main form for a B visa is known as Form DS-160, which is a Nonimmigrant Visa Application. You must complete this form online at the State Department website. Then, you will need to print a page with a bar code to show that you have completed the form, and you must take the page to the consular interview. Before the interview, you will need to pay the visa application fee and get a receipt. The U.S. consulate in your area will tell you where to pay the fee. In some cases, a foreign national who lives in a country that charges fees for visas to U.S. citizens will need to pay an additional fee. However, you can pay the visa reciprocity fee (also known as a visa issuance fee) at your consular interview.
Other documents that you will need to provide include a photo and a passport. The photo must be two inches by two inches, and you may want to get it from a professional photographer, who will know the requirements for these photos. Your passport must not expire for at least six months after the projected end of your trip to the U.S. Also, you may need to provide evidence of your travel arrangements, including an itinerary, transportation tickets, and especially your ticket home. Foreign nationals who are seeking a B-1 visa will need to bring a letter from their employer that explains the purpose of their business trip to the U.S. The employer will need to establish that the foreign national will not receive payment from any U.S. sources and will return home on a certain date. If your trip involves an organized event, such as a business conference, you may want to provide materials related to the event.
Two main areas of concern for a consular officer are whether the foreign national will overstay their visa and whether they will need public assistance in the U.S. You can address the first concern by showing that you own a home or have a long-term lease in your home country, as well as family members and a job there. In response to the second concern, you may need to fill out a Form I-134 to show that you will not need a job or welfare for support. You also might bring a letter from someone in the U.S. with whom you will be staying, in addition to bank statements and pay stubs that show your available funds and income sources.