What is a US Visitor Visa
A visa is a document that allows you to enter a foreign country. Typically, it also contains the date when you’re expected to leave the country.
There are different types of visa categories – immigrant and non-immigrant visas.
If you want to travel to the United States for holiday, business, to see a family member, or any other temporary reason, you’ll need a visitor visa.
A US visitor visa is relatively easy to get. You just need to pass all the requirements, including having complete documents and sufficient funds.
USA Visitor Visa Categories
There are two main categories of USA Visitor Visa. They are:
Business (B-1) Visa: If you’re traveling to the United States for business purposes, a B-1 visa is what you should apply for. For example, you might want to attend a conference or seminar, negotiate contracts, or consult.
With a Business B-1 Visa, you’re only permitted to:
- Attend business conventions, conferences, and seminars
- Negotiate business contracts
- Undertake short-term business training
- Consult with business associates
- Settling an estate
You can also apply for a Business B-1 Visa if you’re traveling to the United States for business reasons.
With a Business B-1 Visa, you’re allowed to stay in the United States for up to 6 months. If your visa expires, you can renew if you’re not done with your business matters.
Tourist (B-2) Visa: If you’re traveling to the United States for vacation purposes, a B-2 Visa is what you should apply for. The visa category is also for people traveling for medical reasons. A lot of people travel to the US for tourism, which is B-2 is a very popular visa.
With a Tourist B-2 Visa, you’re only permitted to:
- Attend social events
- Visit family and friends
- Undertake a short-study course
- Participate in sports and music contests without receiving payment
- Get medical treatment
Like the business visa, you’re allowed to stay in the USA for a maximum of 6 months. However, you can’t engage in any of the activities permitted by a business visa.
It’s important to apply for the right visa to avoid breaking immigration rules. You break the immigration rules when you engage in activities that aren’t permitted by your visa.
How to Apply for a Visitor Visa
As mentioned earlier, applying for a visitor’s visa is relatively easy. Below are simple steps to follow:
- You will start by visiting the official website.
- On the website, you will complete and submit the DS-160 Form.
- After submitting, print the confirmation page.
- Upload your passport photograph as requested. Your passport photograph must meet specific requirements for it to be approved.
- Pay the visa fee and print your receipt.
- Schedule a date for your visa interview at a US consulate or embassy.
- Attend your interview with all the necessary documents
- At the visa application center, you’ll be asked to provide your biometric information – fingerprint and facial photo
- After completing the above requirements, you will wait to hear from the embassy
After completing the above steps, the embassy will make a decision on your visa application and let you know if it is approved.
Documents You Will Need to Apply
While going for your visa interview, you’re expected to come with the following documents:
- Passport-style photograph
- A valid international passport that’s valid for the next six months at least
- Confirmation page of your DS-160 form application
- Your interview schedule confirmation
- Bank statement to show that you can cover your expenses
- Receipt of your paid visa fees
- Documents showing the purpose of your trip. For instance, you can present your conference or contract letter for a business trip. Also, hotel bookings and transport arrangements can be helpful.
- Proof of home ties, such as properties or close relationships in your home country, to show that you intend to come back
- Proof that you have no previous criminal record or convictions
You may need to provide some other case-specific documents not listed above if the embassy requests them.
Travelling for Medical Treatment
If you’re travelling for medical treatment, you need the following documents for your B-2 visa application:
- Your medical diagnosis from a licensed physician in your home country. The diagnosis must outline why treatment in the US is important.
- Letter from a licensed physician or medical facility in the US showing that they are willing to treat you. The letter must contain the cost and duration of your treatment.
- Evidence that you can take care of your medical, living, and transportation expenses during your stay
Attending Your Visa Interview
You must attend an interview if you’re between 14 and 79 years old. Once you submit your application, you should schedule your interview immediately to have it early. You’ll get an interview confirmation in your email after scheduling. You must print and go with it to your interview.
At the interview, you’re expected to answer all questions you’ll be asked. An official will ask you questions about your application and background. You’ll have to explain why you need a visa and convince the official that you meet all the requirements.
The official will also check the documents you provide to ensure you meet the requirements. In some cases, you may be asked to provide some exclusive information or document.
ESTA Visitor’s Visa
You can travel to the USA for tourism or business reasons without applying for a B-1 or B-2 visa. Instead, you can apply for the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) Visitor’s Visa. While the ESTA Visitor’s Visa is not technically a visa, it allows you to stay in the United States for up to 90 days.
The ESTA Tourist Visa is part of the United States Visa Waiver Program (VWP). Therefore, you can only apply for the ESTA Visitor’s Visa if you’re a citizen of a participating country. The countries part of the VWP include:
Andorra, Austria, Australia, Belgium, Brunei, Chile, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Malta, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, San Marino, Slovenia, South Korea, Singapore, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, and the United Kingdom.
You must have a valid ESTA approval before you can travel to the US. Before you can apply for ESTA approval, you must not have any approved visitor’s B visa. In addition, you’ll need to provide the following:
- A valid international passport from your home country
- Your home address and phone number
- A valid email address
- An emergency phone number and email address
In some cases, you may also need to provide the following:
- Your National ID or Personal ID number
- Your aliases and other names not included in your passport
- Your employer’s address and phone number
- Your point of contact name, email address, and phone number, and in the US
- Your global entry ID number
To apply for ESTA approval, you also need to pay an application fee. The fee costs $14 and is non-refundable. Your ESTA is typically valid for two years. Within that period, you’ll only need to apply for a new ESTA if you change your country, name, or gender.
Cost of Visitor Visa Application
The cost of applying for a visitor visa application is $160 (One Hundred and Sixty Dollars Only).
The fee is the same for both Business and Tourist visas. You’ll have to pay the equivalent fee in your local currency.
Payment of this fee is required for your application to be processed. You can’t get to the next step if you’ve not paid.
And depending on your country and where you’re submitting your application, you may be required to pay additional fees.
This could include the cost of gathering the necessary paperwork and passport images.
You could also pay the cost of scheduling appointments to visit the visa application center and the embassy.
If additional fees are required, you must pay them before your visa can be processed.
It’s important to note that all fees you pay for your visa application are non-refundable.
In other words, even when your visa application is rejected, you won’t get your money back.
If you want to reapply, you’ll have to pay the fees again.
Appointment Waiting Time
The visa appointment waiting time differs depending on your home country and where you submitted your documents.
Factors like how busy the embassy is and the number of appointment slots available affect the waiting time.
You can get an estimate of how long you could wait on the US Department of State’s Website. On the website, simply select your city from the list and click on Go.
The website lists the waiting time for visitor’s visas as well as other types of non-immigrant visas.
However, it’s still important to note that the waiting time you get is an estimate. You can check from time to time because the waiting time changes every week.
Reasons for Visitor Visa Denial
If your visa is approved, congratulations, you can arrange your flight and enter the United States. However, you may also experience denial, and there are several reasons why that could happen.
Your application will be denied if you provided misleading information or any false evidence during the application process. Also, it’ll be denied if you’ve breached immigration rules in the US in the past or you have some criminal record.
Furthermore, your application may be denied if you suffer from any transmissible disease. Past arrest or conviction on cases related to drug abuse or trafficking can also affect you. Finally, if your visa application is incomplete, it will not be approved by the embassy.
If your visa application is denied, you cannot appeal the decision. You can only reapply for a visa if circumstances change. For example, if you were denied on health grounds, you may reapply when you’re well. Also, you may provide more convincing and genuine evidence and information in your next application. In cases of breach of immigration rules or criminal records, reapplying won’t make any difference.
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Indefinite Leave to Remain
Spouse Visa Extension
The bank statement is a basic requirement. If you don’t have it, you may provide another proof of funds.
You’ll get a message from the embassy if your application is approved or denied. You can check with the embassy from time to time.
A canceled visa may be reinstated only in certain circumstances. For example, if you win an appeal in a tribunal or court. But when it comes to a visitor visa, there is no room for an appeal. So, your best bet is to reapply later.