Generally, a visitor visa will be needed to visit the United States. Some countries are exempt from the requirement to get a visa as their country of nationality comes under the US Visa Waiver Program (VWP).
Indians traveling to the United States from India for a short visit will require a visitor visa. A B-2 US visa will have to be applied for if traveling to the US for visiting, pleasure, or tourism.
What is the US B-2 visa?
With a B-2 visa you can enter the United States and stay in the country for a short duration. The purpose for the visit must be - tourism, visiting, or pleasure.
While all visitor visas come under the B category of US visas, the specific visa to be applied for will be as per your reason for visiting the country.
Visitor visas for the US
B-1: For Business
B-2: For Tourism
B-1/B2: A combination
Combines both purposes - business and pleasure - in a single visa.
B-1/B-2 brings together the purposes of B-1 and B-2, allowing you to conduct business while you visit, vacation, or sightsee in the US.
What can I do in the US on a B-2 visa?
B-2 visitor visas for the US are nonimmigrant visas for individuals traveling to the United States temporarily for - visiting friends and relatives, pleasure, or tourism. Additionally, there are some other activities that might be conducted on the B-2 visa.
Additional activities permitted on the B-2 visa are -
- Medical treatment
If seeking medical treatment in the US, you may be asked for additional documents. These might include a medical diagnosis from a local physician, proof that all your expenses in the US will be met, and a letter from a medical facility or physician in the US.
- Short course of study
Here, your main purpose of travel to the United States must be tourism. During your visit, you might also engage in a course of study for less than 18 hours/week. You can also secure a B-2 visa if the study program is avocational (a hobby) or recreational in nature.
Do keep in mind that traveling to the US to attend conferences or seminars for credit towards a degree does not make you eligible for a B-2 visa. Similarly, a student engaged in an online study course is not eligible for a B-2 visa to go to the US for appearing in exams or for academic consultations.
- Amateur athletics
Amateur athletes or members of a group of athletes competing in an athletic event might get a B-2 visa to visit the US. To be eligible, they must not be receiving any payment, except for meeting incidental expenses. An athlete normally getting paid for performing cannot qualify for a B-2 visa.
- Amateur Entertainer
An amateur on their own, or a member of a group of amateur performers, or as a competitor in a contest or talent show might be eligible for the B-2 visa. Provided, however, that they won’t be paid for their performance. A performer normally compensated for their performance can’t qualify for the B-2.
What I can't do in the US on a B-2 visa?
Activities generally requiring a specific other visa category can’t be done while in the US on a visitor visa. For example, you will usually have to get a US student visa - F-1 (for academic students) or M-1 (for vocational students) - before you can study abroad in the US. Similarly, you will need a US work visa - visa types H, L, O, P, Q - to work overseas in the US.
Activities not permitted on B-2 visas include, among others -
- Employment, and
- Applying for permanent residence (US Green Card).
B-2 visa can’t be used for the purposes of birth tourism, that is, coming to the US with the specific intention of giving birth in the country so that the child acquires US citizenship by birth.
Who can apply for B-2 US visa?
You can apply for a B-2 foreign visitor nonimmigrant visa for the United States if you intend to travel to the country temporarily for -
- Visiting friends and relatives,
- Medical treatment,
- Taking part in social events,
- Participating as an amateur in an event/contest,
- Enrolling in a short recreational course of study, or
- Vacation (holiday).
How to apply for a B-2 visa?
STEP 1: Know your visa
Before you can apply for the visitor visa, you must be absolutely clear as to which visa - B-1, B-2, or B-1/B-2 - would be the most suitable given the reason for your visit. B-2 is the right option for you if only visiting friends/family or vacationing in the US as a temporary resident.
STEP 2: Complete Form DS-160
Begin the process by duly completing Form DS-160, Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application. The application form’s confirmation page will have to be printed out and brought along with you to the visa interview.
STEP 3: Pay the visa fees
A visa application fee of USD 160 (around INR 12,480) will have to be paid for a B-2 Tourist visa.
STEP 4: Schedule your appointment
There are two separate appointments that have to be booked by you -
- Biometrics (fingerprints, and a photograph) to be given at a Visa Application Center (VAC), and
- Visa interview at the US Embassy/Consulate.
Keep in mind that your VAC appointment must be a minimum of a day before your consular interview.
For the VAC appointment, you must remember to get your - (1) appointment confirmation page, (2) Form DS-160 confirmation page, and (3) your passport.
STEP 5: Attend your visa interview
Visa interviews at the Embassy/Consulate are generally needed for visa applicants between the ages of 14 years to 79 years. Generally, no visa interview is required if the visa applicant is either 13 years old and younger, or 80 years and above in age.
STEP 6: Get your visa
If approved, your B-2 visa will be granted to you.
What are the documents required for a B-2 visa application?
You must gather and prepare the following required documents before you attend your visa interview -
- Form DS-160 confirmation page,
- Application fee payment receipt, and
- Passport valid for US travel.
Minimum six months’ validity beyond the period of intended stay in the United States will be needed on your passport.
Additional documents might be requested. These might include evidence related to your -
- purpose of US trip,
- ability to pay all the costs related to the trip, and
- intent to leave the US after the trip. Proof of family ties and evidence of employment in your home country might be considered sufficient to establish your intent to go back.
A Letter of Invitation or an Affidavit of Support - from your friends and relatives in the US - is not required to apply for a visitor visa. An individual applying for a US visitor visa must qualify based on their residence and ties overseas, rather than any assurances from family and friends in the United States.
How long is a B2 visa valid for?
With a 10-year validity, the B-2 is a multiple-entry visa that allows you to stay in the US for up to six months per visit.
The date of the expiry of your authorized stay in the US is mentioned on your Form I-94, Arrival-Departure Record. Your duration of stay in the US will be determined by a US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer at the US Port of Entry. This will be the “Admit Until Date” stamped on your Form I-94.
Can I extend my B-2 stay in the US?
To extend your US stay as a tourist, you must file a request with US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) on Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status.
The request must be made before the expiry of your authorized stay in the US. Those staying on in the US beyond their authorized stay will be barred from returning to the US and/or might be deported from the country.
The application for a stay extension should ideally be made at least 45 days before the expiry of your authorized stay in the US.
Can I work in US on a B-2 visa?
No, you can’t accept employment or work while in the US on a B-2 visa for tourism purposes.
Can I change my visitor status when in the US on a B-2 visa?
If, for any reason, your plans change while in the US - for example, by marrying a US citizen, or getting a US job offer - you might be able to request a change in your nonimmigrant status. The request for a change of status will have to be made through USCIS. There is no need for you to apply for a new visa.
Going to the US to be married and get a Green Card?
B-2 Visitor Visa
K-1 fiance(e) visa
How much money do I need to show for a B2 visa?
To be granted a US visitor visa, you must be able to convince the consular officer that you can cover your expenses when in the country as a tourist. For this, you will be required to submit your bank statements.
The bank balance that you must have for applying for the US tourist visa will be as per the duration of your intended stay in the US. For a 15-day trip to the US, you must have USD 5,000 to USD 10,000 in your bank account.
What is the US B-2 visa fee?
The cost for US B-2 visa will be USD 160 (around INR 12,480). This is the fee to be submitted along with Form DS-160.
What is the US B-2 visa processing time?
Generally, US B-2 visa applications are processed within two to three months. However, you must also take into consideration the time taken to secure a visa appointment for your US visitor visa.
1. What are the types of visitor visas for the US?
Visitor visas for the United States come under the ‘B’ visa category -
- B-2 visa: For tourism and visiting friends and family in the US.
- B-1 visa: For those traveling to the country on business, that is, to attend meetings and conferences.
- B1/B-2: A combination of B-1 and B-2, a B-1/B-2 visa for the US allows you to mix business with pleasure.
2. Are B-1 and B-2 visas the same?
While both come under US visitor visas, the difference lies in the purpose of visit. A B-1 visa is for traveling to the United States of America for business. Tourism is often the primary motivation behind seeking a B-2 visa for the US.
3. Can I apply for B-2 US visa for going to the US to get married?
It is advisable to apply for the K-1 US visa instead. A fiancé(e) K-1 visa for the US allows the foreign-born fiancé(e) to travel to the US and marry their sponsor (US citizen) within 90 days of arriving in the country.