B2 Visitor Visa: A Complete Guide

What is a visitor visa?

A visitor visa is a type of temporary travel document that allows individuals to enter and stay in a foreign country for a limited period, typically for tourism, business, medical treatment, or visiting family and friends. The formal name for a visitor visa to the United States is the “B-2 Visitor Visa.” It falls under the category of non-immigrant visas, indicating that the holder does not intend to permanently immigrate to the United States.

What is the process to apply for a visitor visa?

The process to apply for a visitor visa (B-2 Tourist Visa) for the United States involves several steps, including filling out forms, gathering documents, scheduling an interview, and attending the interview at a U.S. embassy or consulate. Keep in mind that specific requirements and procedures can vary based on your country of residence. Here’s a general step-by-step process, along with form numbers and relevant web pages:

1) Determine Eligibility and Gather Documents:

  • Review the eligibility criteria for a B-2 Visitor Visa on the U.S. Department of State’s official website: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/us-visas/tourism-visit/visitor.html
  • Prepare the necessary documents, which typically include your passport, a completed Form DS-160, passport-sized photos, evidence of ties to your home country (such as employment, family, or property), and financial documents to demonstrate your ability to cover your expenses during the visit.

2) Complete Form DS-160:

  • Access the Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application (Form DS-160) at: https://ceac.state.gov/CEAC/
  • Fill out the form accurately and completely. You will receive a DS-160 confirmation barcode upon completion.

3) Pay the Visa Application Fee:

4) Schedule Visa Appointment:

  • Visit the U.S. Visa Information and Appointment Services website: https://www.ustraveldocs.com/
  • Create an account, log in, and select “Schedule Appointment.”
  • Follow the prompts to provide information about your application, pay the visa application fee, and schedule an appointment at a U.S. embassy or consulate.

5) Attend Visa Interview:

  • On the scheduled date, attend the visa interview at the U.S. embassy or consulate in your country.
  • Bring your passport, DS-160 confirmation page, visa application fee receipt, passport-sized photos, and all required supporting documents.
  • Be prepared to answer questions about your travel plans, purpose of visit, ties to your home country, and other relevant information.

6) Wait for Visa Processing:

  • After the interview, the consular officer will inform you about the outcome of your application. If approved, your passport will be stamped with the B-2 visa.

7) Travel to the U.S.:

  • With the B-2 visitor visa in your passport, you can travel to the U.S. within the validity period of the visa.

8) Entry and Stay in the U.S.:

  • Upon arrival in the U.S., present your passport with the B-2 visa to the CBP officer at the port of entry.
  • The CBP officer will decide the duration of your authorized stay in the U.S., typically up to six months.

Please note that the provided web links and information are based on my knowledge as of September 2021. Immigration policies and procedures can change, so I recommend visiting the official U.S. Department of State and U.S. embassy/consulate websites for the most up-to-date information and instructions related to applying for a visitor visa.

How long can you stay in the U.S. on a tourist visa?

On a B-2 Tourist Visa, which is a type of visitor visa for the United States, the typical authorized period of stay is up to six months. This means that once you enter the U.S. with a B-2 visa, you are generally allowed to stay for a maximum of six months from your date of entry.

However, the actual duration of stay is determined by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer at the port of entry when you arrive in the U.S. They will stamp your passport with an entry date and an “admitted until” date, which indicates the date by which you must leave the country. It’s essential to comply with the authorized period of stay and depart the U.S. before the expiration date to avoid any immigration violations.

If you wish to extend your stay beyond the initial authorized period of six months, you can apply for an extension with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) before your authorized stay expires. Keep in mind that extensions are not guaranteed and are typically granted based on the specific circumstances of your stay.

It’s important to review the information provided by U.S. authorities and consult official government sources for the most accurate and up-to-date information regarding visitor visa regulations and the duration of stay in the United States.

What is the DS160?

The DS-160, also known as the “Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application,” is a form that individuals seeking a nonimmigrant visa to the United States must complete as part of the visa application process. The DS-160 is used for various nonimmigrant visa categories, including tourist visas (B-2), business visas (B-1), student visas (F-1), exchange visitor visas (J-1), and more.

Here are the key details about the DS-160 form:

1) Purpose: The DS-160 form collects information about the visa applicant’s personal, travel, and background details. It helps U.S. consular officers assess the eligibility of the applicant for the requested visa category.

2) Online Application: The DS-160 form is completed and submitted online. It replaces the older paper-based visa application forms. Each applicant, including children, must have a separate DS-160 form.

3) Completion and Submission: Applicants can access the DS-160 form through the Consular Electronic Application Center (CEAC) website: https://ceac.state.gov/CEAC/

  • Start a new application and select the appropriate visa category (e.g., B-2 for tourist visa).
  • Fill out the form with accurate and complete information. Be sure to review and verify your entries before submitting them.
  • Once submitted, you will receive a confirmation page with a barcode. Print this page or save the barcode for your records and the visa interview.

4) Required Documents: Before filling out the DS-160 form, gather relevant documents and information, including your passport, travel itinerary, address in the U.S., contact details, information about your previous U.S. travel (if applicable), and details about your planned activities during the visit.

It’s important to complete the DS-160 form accurately and truthfully, as any discrepancies or false information could affect your visa application. Be sure to review the specific instructions provided by the U.S. embassy or consulate in your country for detailed guidance on completing the DS-160 form and the overall visa application process.

Please note that my information is based on the state of affairs up until September 2021, and there may have been updates or changes since that time. Always refer to official U.S. government sources for the most current and accurate information.

What is the difference between a visitor visa and an I-94?


  • A visa is like a “permission slip” that you get before you come to the United States. It tells U.S. officials that you’re allowed to travel to the U.S. for a specific reason, like tourism or business.
  • You apply for a visa at a U.S. embassy or consulate in your home country.
  • Getting a visa doesn’t guarantee you can enter the U.S. It just lets you ask to come in when you arrive.


  • An I-94 is like a “ticket” you get when you arrive in the U.S. It tells U.S. officials how long you’re allowed to stay and what you can do while you’re here.
  • When you enter the U.S., the officials decide how long you can stay based on your I-94.
  • You can check your I-94 online to see when you need to leave the U.S.

In simple terms, a visa is like permission to ask to enter the U.S., and an I-94 is like a ticket that tells you how long you can stay and what you can do while you’re here.

What is the difference between a B1 and a B2 visa?

A B-1 visa and a B-2 visa are both categories of visitor visas for the United States, but they have different purposes and intended activities. Here’s a breakdown of the differences between B-1 and B-2 visas:

B-1 Visa (Business Visitor Visa):

  • A B-1 visa is for individuals traveling to the United States for business purposes.
  • It is typically used for activities such as attending business meetings, and conferences, negotiating contracts, consulting with business associates, participating in short-term training, and engaging in other professional or commercial activities.
  • B-1 visa holders are generally not allowed to engage in gainful employment, such as accepting a job offer, in the United States.
  • Common activities under a B-1 visa might include attending trade shows, conducting market research, and engaging in business-related activities.

B-2 Visitor Visa (Tourist Visa):

  • A B-2 visa is for individuals traveling to the United States for tourism, pleasure, medical treatment, or visiting family and friends.
  • It is intended for activities such as sightseeing, vacations, visiting family members, receiving medical treatment, attending social events, and participating in recreational activities.
  • B-2 visa holders are not allowed to work or study in the United States. The primary purpose of their visit should be temporary and non-business-related.
  • Common activities under a B-2 visa might include visiting national parks, attending family events like weddings, or seeking medical care.

In summary, the main difference between a B-1 visa and a B-2 visa is the purpose of the visit. A B-1 visa is for business-related activities, while a B-2 visa is for tourism and other non-business-related activities. It’s important for visa applicants to accurately choose the appropriate category based on the nature of their planned activities in the U.S. Keep in mind that some travelers might qualify for a B-1/B-2 combination visa, allowing them to engage in both business and tourism activities during their stay.

Can I attend school on a B2 visitor visa?

Generally, attending school on a B-2 Tourist Visa is not allowed. B-2 Visitor Visas are intended for temporary visits for tourism, medical treatment, and visiting family and friends. If your primary purpose is to study in the United States, you should apply for an appropriate student visa (such as an F-1 visa for academic studies). Attending school on a B-2 Visitor Visa could lead to immigration violations and could potentially affect your future eligibility for U.S. visas.

If you have questions about the student visa process and how it could lead to permanent status in the U.S., please visit our page here.

What kind of activities are permitted on a B1 visa?

Permitted Activities on a B-1 Visa: A B-1 Business Visitor Visa allows individuals to engage in a variety of business-related activities, such as:

  • Attending business meetings and conferences.
  • Negotiating contracts and business deals.
  • Consulting with business associates.
  • Conducting research or independent research.
  • Participating in short-term training programs.
  • Attending conventions or trade shows.
  • Engaging in professional development activities.

How do I extend my B2 visa while in the U.S.?

Extending a B-2 Visitor Visa While in the U.S.: If you’re already in the U.S. on a B-2 visa and you need to extend your stay for valid reasons (such as medical treatment, family emergencies, or unforeseen circumstances), you can apply for an extension. Here’s the general process:

  1. File Form I-539: Complete and file Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status, which is available on the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website: Form I-539
  2. Pay Application Fee: Pay the required application fee according to the instructions on the USCIS website. Information about the fee and payment methods can be found here: Filing Fee Information
  3. Provide Supporting Documentation: Prepare and submit the necessary supporting documentation along with your Form I-539. Include a detailed explanation of the reasons for your extension request. USCIS may request evidence to support your case.
  4. Mail Your Application: Follow the instructions on the I-539 form and USCIS website for where to mail your completed application package. Be sure to keep a copy of your application for your records.
  5. USCIS Review: USCIS will review your application and may request additional information or schedule an interview if needed. You can track the status of your application online using the USCIS Case Status page: Check Case Status
  6. Decision: If approved, USCIS will issue a new I-94 Arrival/Departure Record with an extended authorized stay.

Please note that the information provided here is a general guideline. It’s important to carefully review the USCIS website for the most up-to-date and detailed information regarding the process of extending a B-2 Visitor Visa while in the U.S. For specific forms, fees, instructions, and any updates to the process, always refer to official USCIS resources.

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