Simple ways to visit the USA
The B2 visa is a tourist visa which allows you to enter the United States for tourism, pleasure, or visit friends and family.
Who need to apply for B2 Visa?
Only those who are not in the US Visa Waiver Program need to apply for a tourist visa to USA. If you are from a Visa Waiver country then you are lucky. You can just follow the simple procedures of applying for an ESTA and then make your travel arrangements.
Note: Starting May 30, 2023, the cost of a B2 visa application has increased to $185 from the previous price of $160.
How to know you are eligible for B2 Visa
Your purpose of visit should fall under one of the following:
• Have a holiday in the United States.
• Tour various cities in the United States.
• Visit friends or family.
• Participate in social events hosted by various organizations.
• Visit for medical treatment.
• Going for events or contests related to music or sports, for which you will not receive payment.
• Enroll in short study courses for which you will not receive credit.
If you do not fall into any of the categories above, then you should look into other types of US non-immigrant visas to see for which ones you qualify.
In addition, you will have to prove that you have enough financial means to cover your stay in the United States and that you intend to return to your home country as soon as your visa expires.
However, the B1 visa allows you to enter the United States with the purpose of business, contract negotiation, or attending conferences and other business-related events.
How to Apply for a US Tourist Visa?
To apply for a US Tourist visa you must go through these simple steps:
• Submit Form DS-160.
• Pay visa fees.
• Schedule your US Tourist Visa interview.
• Compile your B2 Visa document file.
• Attend the visa interview.
Submit Form DS-160
Submit your information as well as details about your purpose of visit. You must fill in the sections for your US Tourist visa and then submit it online. After you submit it, you will get a verification page and code which you need for your documents file.
You can fill the DS-160 form online through:
with the help of a visa processing assistant.
Pay the application fees
The application fee for the US Tourist Visa is $185. Depending on your country’s relationship with the US, you might have to pay other fees too. These are called visa issuance fees and they vary from country to country. After making the payments, you need to keep the receipts and attach them to your file of required documents.
Schedule your US Tourist Visa interview
All applicants between 14 and 79 years old must go through an interview at the US Embassy. To attend this interview, you must schedule an appointment with the US Embassy in your country of residence. Due to the high workload that they have, make sure you schedule it as soon as possible. When this procedure is done, you will get an interview confirmation letter which you need to bring to the interview.
Compile your B2 Visa document file
The documents file that you have includes all supporting documents to show the US Embassy that it is safe to give you the visa. You must bring all of the documents to your visa appointment.
Here are the required documents that you need to submit when applying for a B2 visa:
• Valid passport.
• A photograph that complies with the requirements and guidelines.
• Form DS-160 confirmation page and code.
• Receipt of paid visa fees.
• Interview confirmation page.
• A letter which describes the purpose of your trip.
• Proof of financial means. Financial or bank statements to prove you have the finances to stay in the US of at least $266 for each day of your planned stay.
• Ties to your home country. Family, job contract, lease, or property deed, which prove you will return.
• Optional documents include:
• US visitor visa invitation letter from friends or family in the US.
• Criminal records or letter from authorities stating that you do not have prior convictions.
• Documents relevant to your prior visits. This only applies if you visited the US before.
• Transcripts or diploma. This only applies to students.
• A letter from your employer and payslips for the last three months. If you are a worker
• Photocopies of your relative’s status in the US.
• Letters from doctors on your diagnosis and treatment. If you are visiting for medical purposes.
• Social media details. A list of the social media that you use, and the name of your account in each.
Attend the visa interview
On the date of your interview, a US Embassy official will ask questions about your background and why you want to go to the United States. They will go through your documents to ensure that everything is in order. The interviews do not last long but make sure to disclose all necessary information to avoid problems later on.
How Long is the B2 Visa Processing Time?
The B2 visa may take a few weeks up to a few months to process. Processing times differ from country to country because it largely depends on the workload that the US Embassy where you applied has. If you do not hear from the Embassy, be patient and wait for them to inform you on whether you got the visa or not.
What is the B2 Visa Duration?
Once you get the visa, the maximum duration of stay on a B2 visa is 6 months. During that time, you can travel throughout the US or for any other purpose. However, as soon as your visa expires, you must return to your home country.
B2 Visa Extension
If you want to stay longer, you can apply for B2 visa extension for an additional 6 months. You should do so at least 42 days before the expiration of your I-94 card. Yet, you are not allowed to apply within three months of arrival in the US. You should submit the following documents when applying for a B2 visa extension:
• Completed form I-539.
• Your valid passport.
• A written statement on the reason behind the requested extension.
• Evidence of financial support.
• Payment of the extension fee, which is $370.
• Original or photocopy of I-94 card.
The extension processing time varies on the number of applications USCIS is processing at the time of your application.
Documents to prepare if you are a sponsor of visiting Visa
To bring a parent or parents to the U.S. on a B visa, you will need to gather or create several supporting documents, including:
• Affidavit of Support Form (Form I-134)
• Tourist Visa Invitation Letter
• Tourist Visa Sponsor Letter
• Financial Documents
• Proof of Sponsor’s Residency Status
The above documents are explained in details below:
Affidavit of Support Form (Form I-134)
Form I-134 is what you need to submit to obtain a visitor’s visa. Known as the Affidavit of Support, this is an 8-page document with six pages of instructions. This serves as evidence of your income and certifies that you’re in a financially healthy condition to support your visitors.
Where to submit this depends on whether the visitor is inside or outside of the U.S. The form has to be submitted with a full signature, full name, and all the relevant details. Forms are quickly rejected for missing signatures. So review the document twice before submitting it.
Form I-134 should be submitted with the following documents:
• Signed copy from a bank officer stating your financials of at least a year.
• Signed business letterhead from your employer stating the nature of the work you do, whether temporary or permanent.
• Copy of your last federal income tax filing. For the self-employed, a report on commercial rating concerns.
• Serial numbers and denominations of each shareholder in case of any bonds.
Tourist Visa Invitation Letter
Unlike Form I-134, the Letter of Invitation is not mandatory, but it is special in its own way as it makes the process smoother. This letter is written to your parents or relatives who wish to come to the U.S. on a tourist visa. The main topics to touch on in the Letter of Invitation are:
• Purpose of the visit
• Time duration
• Whether or not you’ll be covering airfares and traveling expenses
• Estimated expenses
Be as specific as you can. This letter should not only be personal in nature, but it should also assure the U.S. government that the visitor will be staying in the U.S. for a certain period of time in a financially secure environment.
It could be something like this:
Dear Parents (Put father or mother or both)
I would like to invite you to the United States of America to stay with me for about three to six months. We will have fun and visit various tourist locations in the U.S.
During your stay in the U.S., I will bear all your responsibilities and will take care of the return air ticket fare, financial implications, travel insurance, accommodations, and food.
Please start planning for the trip and come visit me soon.
Example of Tourist Visa Sponsor Letter
After you’ve written a letter to your parents/friends/family about inviting them to the U.S., you need to write to the U.S. Consulate to initiate the process of issuing a visa to them. Just like in the previous case, you’re required to state the purpose of the visit, the duration, and the expenses covered, among other things. The tone should be professional and respectful.
I, (put your name), work as a Mechanical Engineer at ABC located in New Jersey and earn $70,000 per year. I would like to invite my parents, Mr. PQE and Mrs. QER, to visit the United States and stay with me for tourism purposes for some time. They will be staying in my home.
During their stay in the U.S., I will be responsible for them in every financial respect. I will ensure that they do not become a public charge on the U.S. government.
As a rule of thumb, you need to be in a financially healthy state to sponsor someone and bring them into the U.S. The financial documents to include along with Form I-134 are:
Bank statement of at least the last two months.
Bank account verification letter from the bank. This includes the name of the applicant, bank balance, how long the account has been in operation, and the name of the addressed consulate. If you cannot obtain a bank account verification letter, then you can submit a bank statement for the past 12 months of your salary account.
The last 2-3 months of paychecks received from your employer to show your recent job performance and security.
W2 forms from your employer which show the wages paid to you along with the taxes withheld.
Copies of personal tax returns if you’re self-employed or run a U.S.-based business.
Proof of Sponsor’s Residency Status
This includes how long you’ve been in the U.S. and your current residential status. The documents to include are:
Copy of passport.
Letter of employment provided at the time of your job offer if you’re employed in the U.S.
If you’re on a visa, like an H1 or L1, then a copy of your visa along with Form I-797 and I-94. If at the time of applying your visa has expired or is set to expire, then you can submit copies of the renewed petitions.
Copies of green cards in the case of green card holders.
If naturalized as a U.S. citizen, copies of the certificate of citizenship.
Additional Documents for Parents Visiting Children in the U.S.
These documents aren’t necessary but may be asked for during the scheduled interview with the USCIS. It’s always a wise decision to carry them or their photocopies along with you to avoid confusion and delays. The additional documents for parents visiting their children in the U.S. are:
Birth certificates of children. Photocopies are sufficient, but if that isn’t available, an affidavit can serve the requirements.
Photocopies of the passport of the sponsoring child. Has to be updated and valid. If you’re sponsoring your in-laws, then the birth certificate and passport of your spouse are required too.
How much bank balance is required for US B2 visa?
There is no minimum balance requirement for your bank account, however, based on the experience of others we recommend anywhere between $5,000 to $10,000 will be sufficient.
Do Tourists Get Access to American Healthcare?
As a foreigner visiting the United States for tourism purposes you will not receive free healthcare. The American healthcare system is the most expensive in the world with the treatment of a broken leg or broken arm that will cost you $2,500, while staying at a US hospital for one night may cost over $10,000, on average.
Therefore, it is advisable to purchase a visitor’s health insurance plan to cover these costs.
Can I Get a Green Card With a US Tourist Visa?
It is very difficult to get permanent residence or a Green Card if you are a tourist in the United States. Since the B2 visa is a temporary visa, you must prove that you will return to your home country after it expires in order to get it. Also, you are not allowed to look for a job or start studying, which means the easiest paths to a Green Card may not be available for you.
Can My Parents Visit Me In USA With a B2 Visa?
If you are living in the US, working or studying, you can invite your parents to visit you. They will need to follow all of the processes explained above in this article. The only thing that may differ a bit, are the required documents:
Passports. Your parents should have valid passports
Completed DS-160 Form.
Bank Verification Letter. You should present proof you are capable of financially supporting your parents while they are in the US.
Employment Verification You should ask your current employer for this letter.
Invitation Letter. You should write a letter to your parents inviting them to visit you in the US.
You are responsible for collecting some of the documents for your parents. They will also need to collect some extra in their home country.
It is highly recommended that visiting parents obtain a visitor’s insurance plan that covers their entire stay in the United States.
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By Olushola Samuel