The Complete Guide to the B2 Visa

Updated on August 14, 2023
At a Glance: The B2 visa, also known as a tourist visa, allows individuals to enter the U.S. for pleasure, tourism, or medical treatment. It permits activities such as vacationing, visiting friends and family, touring cities and attractions, receiving medical treatment, participating in non-paid sports or music events, attending social events, and enrolling in short-term non-credit courses. Eligibility requirements include complying with the visa’s purpose, having sufficient funds to cover the stay, and demonstrating an intention to return to one’s home country. The application process involves submitting Form DS-160, paying the visa fees, scheduling an interview, gathering required documents, and attending the interview. The processing time varies, and an extension of up to 6 months is possible. The visa application fee is $160, and travel insurance is advisable.

Some travelers go to the U.S.A. to stay there, to live the American Dream. Others go there on a temporary stay – a couple of weeks or months for a pleasure or business trip, after which they return to their own home.

However, with their immigration laws, one cannot simply walk into the U.S. without a visa. In these cases, if your stay is temporary, you may go for the B1/B2 visa. This article will tackle mostly the aspects of the B2 visa.

What Is a B2 Visa?

The B2 visa (also referred to as a tourist visa) allows you to get into the U.S. for pleasure purposes, tourism, or medical treatment. You may see the U.S. famous sights, as well as create new contacts that you may use back home.

A holder of a U.S. tourist visa may engage in the following activities while in the United States:

  • Go on a holiday in the United States
  • Visit your friends and family that are residing in the U.S.
  • Tour different cities and attractions of the United States
  • Visit the U.S. in order to receive medical treatment
  • Participate in contests and/or events that are related to sports or music, but for which you won’t be paid
  • Take part in social events held by different organizations
  • Enroll in short-term courses for which you won’t be receiving any credit (for example, a cooking class)

If you do not find yourself in any of the above-mentioned categories, then you might not be able to get a B2 visa. You should look into other visas as well, in this case. However, the advantage that the B visa holds over any other type of visas is that it doesn’t have a cap. As long as you qualify, you may apply for a visa how many times you want.

Differences between B1 and B2 Visa

Both B1 and B2 visas are generally used as a joint “B1/B2 Visitor’s Visa,” as many people tend to mix business with pleasure (e.g. a business meeting that gives you time to visit the surroundings).

Still, the main difference between the two is that while the B1 visa is used for business purposes, the B2 visa is used for pleasure. You use the B1 visa to attend a business conference in the U.S., for example, whereas the B2 visa is used when you want to spend a holiday at a friend – or anything else that says “leisure.”

Who Is Eligible for a B2 Visa?

For you to be allowed in the U.S. under the B2 visa, you will need to meet the following criteria that make you eligible:

  • Your intention for visiting the U.S. is in compliance with the purposes of the visit allowed by the B2 visa.
  • Your financial means are high enough to cover your entire stay in the United States.
  • You have the intention of returning to your own country and have no intention of staying permanently or for a longer time.

If you meet the criteria above, then you should be eligible for obtaining a B2 visa.

How to Apply for a B2 Visa

To apply for a B2 Tourist Visa, you will have to follow these steps:

Submit the Application Form

When opting for a B2 tourist visa, you will first have to download Form DS-160 and submit it. Fill in the sections concerning the B2 visa, and once you have submitted it online, you will receive a verification code as well as a verification page. Make sure to keep them at hand, because you will need them for your document package.

Pay the Visa Fees

For your application to be processed, you will have to pay the visa fee – as well as any potential insurance fees. This can be done either as a money order or paid electronically as a bank transfer. Bear in mind that you will have to keep the receipts, as you will have to attach them to your application.

Schedule Your Interview

For you to schedule an interview, you will need to be aged between 14 and 79-years-old. This interview is scheduled at the U.S. embassy from your country, but you have to expect the fact that the interview won’t be soon. Due to the workload, you might have to wait until you receive a confirmation letter.

Gather Your B2 Visa Documents

The most important documents for a B2 visa will include a valid US visa photo, a valid passport, the Form DS-160 confirmation code, and page, as well as the receipts for the paid visa fees. Aside for that, you will also need the information for the interview such as a document describing the purpose of your visit, proof of financial stability, and ties to your own country – to prove that you do plan on eventually going back.

Attend the Interview

Needless to say, the last step in completing your B2 visa application is to attend the interview. Here, you will be personally asked about the purpose of your trip, your background, as well as other aspects that they might deem relevant. Keep in mind that if you are late, your application might get automatically rejected – and if you make it, you can expect to stay even 3 hours there.

If you want to brush up on the B2 visa interview questions and answers, check out this guide to the B2 visa interview questions.

Cost of a B2 Visa

The application fee for the U.S. B2 tourist visa is $160 – not including the potential insurance fees. There are also cases when you might not be required to pay at all – such as when you are working for the U.S. government or are visiting because of a charitable event. If you go for a B2 visa extension, you will have to pay $370.

B2 Visa Processing Time

The processing time will depend on person to person. For some, it will only take a few weeks – whereas for others it might take up to a few months. It will all depend on the workload at your U.S. Embassy.

B2 Visa Extension

If you wish to stay for longer, you might go for an extension to your visa that will give you an additional 6 months. The documents required will be the same as for your visa application (passport, statement behind the extension, evidence of financial support, etc.), as well as a completed Form I-539 and a photocopy of the I-94 card.

Travel Insurance for Visiting Parents

Another important consideration when applying for a B2 visa is visitor insurance. The American healthcare system is expensive, so insurance is always a good option.

To learn more about the options available, check out our guide to travel insurance for visiting parents.

Other Considerations for B2 Visa Holders

After getting a B2 visa, other avenues open up for those on a visitor visa. Perhaps your parent wants to study in America. Then they might want to know more about how to change from a B2 visa to an F1 visa. Or maybe they want to come to the U.S. permanently. Then it would be helpful to know more about the U.S. citizen petition for parents process.

B2 Visa Frequently Asked Questions

When it comes to B2 visas, there are bound to be some questions that would frequently appear. Here are some common answers that might be useful to you.

How do I prove my strong ties to my home country if I am a homemaker? I have been denied the B-2 visa. I need to accompany my minor children migrating to the US.

Generally speaking, in order to get your visit approved, you need to prove that you have every intention of returning home. A residence abroad or a job to which you plan on returning – anything that will show your stay is temporary can be useful. Parents with a B2 visa can accompany their children as long as they bring proof of income and temporary stay.

What is the limit for the duration of stay allowed for business meetings under a B2 visa?

When traveling under a B2 visa, you are allowed to stay up to 6 months. Provided you bring legitimate proof for the purpose of your visit, you may ask for an extension that will give you an extra 6 months.

Read More

Final Thoughts

A B2 visa is what you will need if you wish to visit the U.S. for pleasure purposes, tourism, medical factors, and so on. If you also intend to do business, you might want to get a B1 visa as well. Ideally, you should talk with an immigration attorney, as they will tell you what should be done.

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Frank Gogol

I’m a firm believer that information is the key to financial freedom. On the Stilt Blog, I write about the complex topics — like finance, immigration, and technology — to help immigrants make the most of their lives in the U.S. Our content and brand have been featured in Forbes, TechCrunch, VentureBeat, and more.