Non-immigrant visas allow foreign nationals to enter and stay in the United States for a limited period of time and for a specific purpose. Aliens visiting the U.S. for pleasure are covered by the B-2 non-immigrant visa category. The B-2 visa category is broad and encompasses many activities. If you are traveling to the U.S. to simply visit for pleasure, to see family or friends, to seek medical help, or to participate in a sports or music performance as an amateur, you may apply for a B-2 visitor visa.
To qualify for a B-2 visa, an individual must demonstrate that:
The reason for the trip is tourism;
The individual has a permanent residence abroad that he or she has no intention of abandoning;
The individual has ties to his or her home country in the form of a job, property, or family;
The individual is not entering the U.S. to seek gainful employment or participate in business activities that are primarily for the benefit of a U.S. employer; and
The individual has sufficient financial resources to cover the expenses of the trip.
The length of time that an individual can stay in the U.S. on a B-2 visa is determined by the immigration officer at the port of entry. The maximum amount of time is typically six months.
There are a number of benefits associated with the B-2 visa, including the fact that an individual does not require an approved visa petition from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to apply for such a visa. The applicant can apply for a B-2 visa in person at the nearest U.S. consulate in his or her home country. The applicant does not need to be sponsored by anyone in the U.S. to apply for a B-2 visa. Additionally, it is relatively quicker and easier to obtain than some other types of visas.
A potential student visiting the U.S. to tour schools may be eligible for a B-2 visa, but they may not enroll in school before changing their status to student visa status.
Trips made to the U.S. on a B-2 visa cannot involve any type of employment or academic study programs. A B-2 visa can, however, be used to visit a prospective academic institution to assess whether an individual wants to undertake study there or not. Enrolling in classes while on the B-2 status results in a status violation, which means an individual has violated his or her immigration status and is not eligible to extend the visa or change it to another type of visa that would permit the individual to undertake a course of study.
B-2 visas can also be sought by the spouse and children of a B-2 visa holder. Since the B-2 category has no dependent visa, dependents who are accompanying the B-1 visa holder can apply separately for a B-2 visa and must follow all the regulations pertaining to that visa.
It is important to note that if you have ever been arrested or have a criminal conviction, have been denied entry to the United States, or have previously been deported, you will need to present documents relating to your situation in support of your application.
You should consult the help of an immigration attorney in your local area if you wish to enter the U.S. on a B-2 visa. The attorney can help assess your specific situation and inform you of your eligibility.