Besides a great country to work in, the US is also a very popular country to visit. It has historical landmarks, impressive infrastructure, and beautiful nature. Additionally, the US presents an attractive environment to do business in. Many people have the US as their travel or business destination and because of that, there are also visas available which only give you the right to enter the US for visiting purposes.
What Are the US Visitor Visas?
The US visitor visas are a category of US non immigrant visas that allow its holder to go to the US short-term visits for a maximum of six months.
Because there are two main purposes that visitors can go to the US, there are also two types of visitor visas into the B category:
- B1 visa is the visa which allows you to enter the US with the purpose of doing business with a company within the US.
- B2 visa is the visa which allows you to enter the US with the purpose of tourism, pleasure, or visit to friends and family.
Besides each individual visa, there is also a combination of both B1 and B2 visas; however, that is more rarely sought out.
The benefit of the US visitor visas is that there is no cap on the number issued in a year, and those who abide by the rules can get it as many times as they want as long as they fulfill the criteria.
Who Needs to Apply for a US B1/B2 Visa?
If you are a citizen of one of the countries in the Visa Waiver Program you don’t need to apply for a US B1/B2 Visa. Instead, you can apply through the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA). With the ESTA program, you will not be required to go to the US Embassy in person and can get the visa much faster.
You can check your ESTA eligibility by using our free ESTA eligibility tool:
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How to Apply for the Visitor Visas?
The application for visitor visas is quite straightforward and goes through much of the similar process as other US nonimmigrant visas. This means that you apply at a US Embassy or Consulate in your home country.
For those who need a visa to visit the US, the following steps need to be followed:
Fill in Form DS-160
Form DS-160, Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application is a standard form required for a US visitor visa. It has various sections depending on the type of US visa that you are applying for. You must find the section for the visitor visas (either B1 visa or B2 visa) and fill the necessary spaces. It will ask about your personal information, background, and purpose of visit to the US. At the end, you will get a confirmation page and code which you need to retain for later.
You can fill the DS-160 form online through:
- the Consular Electronic Application Center, or
- by using the services of a third party company such as TravelAssist.
Why do we advise to apply through TravelAssist?
- TravelAssist’s staff will fill in the form DS-160 to book your B1/B2 visa appointment with the US Embassy/Consulate.
- They will provide you with a complete list of required documents for your B1/B2 Visa application and will check your prepared application file to make sure your application has the highest possible prospect of success.
- The staff of TravelAssist will offer 24/7 online support regarding your B1/B2 visa application.
- If your US visa application is successful TravelAssist will get you your B1/B2 visa quickly.
- In the event of denied entry to the US they offer Travel Protection that will cover your financial expenses.
- TravelAssist is a specialized company in processing US visa applications and has helped over 20,000 people enter the United States. They provide end-to-end visa assistance to help you successfully enter the United States.
Pay the US visitor visa application fee
The application fee for the US visitor visas is $160. Besides this fee, you might have to pay visa issuance fees which are determined based on the relationship of your country with the US.
Schedule your visitor visa interview
All visa applicants between 14 and 79 years old are required to attend a US visitor visa interview with an official from the US Embassy they are applying in. To learn more about how to schedule a US visa interview, visit the following article.
Compile your document file for the B1/B2 visas
When you go to the US Embassy, you need to support your case as to why the US Embassy has to give you a visa.
Attend your interview
With your document file and depending on the type of visitor visa you are seeking, attend your interview. During the interview, the official will mostly concentrate on your intent to return to your home country. Many people try to go into the US with visitor visas and find employment illegally, so you must prove that you will return.
B1/B2 Visa Document Requirements
To apply for a US visitor visa, you need to compile a document file which contains the standard required documents for every US visa and the specific document requirements for the B1 visa or the required documents for the B2 visa.
How Long do the USA Visitor Visas take to Process?
The processing time for the B1/B2 visa can vary from a few weeks to a few months. If you have a specific date that you need to be in the US in, it is best to apply as early as possible so that you can allow enough time for the visa to be processed.
How Long Are the US Visitor Visas Valid?
US Visitor visas are given for a period 1 month up to 10 years. The maximum stay on a visitor visa is six months, but bear in mind that you are not allowed to work during that time, so you must prove you can afford to stay for that period of time.
B1/B2 Visa Extension
If you want a B1/B2 visa extension, you must provide a valid reason as to why you need to stay and submit documents supporting your case. Additionally, during the time that you are in the US with a visitor visa, you can try to change your status to a longer-term visa. However, if your purpose is this, then you need to inform the officials at the Embassy during your interview. If you do not inform them, then you need to prove that you did not intend to change your status at the beginning of your trip and the opportunity came later on.
Can I Get a Green Card With the Visitor Visas?
Since the visitor visas are temporary and require you to prove that you will return to your home country, it is difficult to get permanent residence. You can do so only if you are able to change your status to a longer-term visa which allows dual intent (applying for a Green Card), marrying in the US, or applying to join your family.
Can I Bring my Dependents With a B1/B2 Visa?
The B1/B2 Visas do not have dependents visas, so if you want to travel with your family, they must also get the appropriate visitor visas.