US Tourist Visa (B2)

Applying for a US tourist or visitor visa USA allows a foreign national to temporarily travel to the USA either for the purposes of tourism, or to visit family and friends.

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As examples of the wide variety of non-immigrant USA visas, the B2 tourist/visitor visa is not intended as a route to gaining lawful permanent residence in the USA through a Permanent Resident Card or US Green Card as it more commonly known.

The B2 visa

US visas of this class are also referred to as "visitor for pleasure" visas, although in practice this visa service covers people entering the country for health reasons, visiting relatives, and to participate in short study courses as well as those entering as tourists.

B-2 visas are typically granted for a period of 1 to 10 years, during which time the bearer is permitted to make multiple entries into the United States in order to pursue approved B2 visa activities (tourism, visiting family or friends, health reasons etc.). 

Each visit to the United States will be limited to a duration not exceeding six months and B2 visa holders are not entitled to employment rights. In some cases this length of stay may be extended by an additional six months however in both classes, candidates must be able to demonstrate that their visit to the USA is intended as a temporary one. 

An applicant’s visitation duration period on a given visit is determined by the Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) officer at a U.S. port of entry and is dictated by a stamp on the applicant’s I-94 card. 

An applicant is required to depart the U.S. by the date mandated on the I-94 card.

When applications are assessed considerable attention is paid to demonstrable evidence that the applicant has no intention of giving up their residence in their home country and that they have the intention and the means to support themselves during their stay and to leave before or upon the expiry of their US visa.

An applicant's intention to continue residing in their home country can be supported by evidence of family ties, property ownership, employment or any evidence which suggests that an applicant is irrevocably linked to their own country.

The Visa Waiver Pilot Program

The USA Visa Waiver Program allows nationals of participating countries to enter the United States for a period of up to ninety days without a visa, if they are in possession of a machine-readable passport and a non-refundable return ticket or a ticket to a subsequent destination, with the exception of Canada.

Applicants entering the county through the Waiver program are subject to the same restrictions as those entering on a visitor visa. At present, the following countries participate in the program.

Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brunei, Czech Republic, Estonia, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Republic of Korea, San Marino, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom.

Please note that since January 12, 2009, all nationals and citizens of Visa Waiver Program (VWP) countries - including the UK - are required by law to obtain a travel authorization prior to travelling to the United States under the VWP.

Travellers can register for authorization online through ESTA, a free Internet application administered by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) through a U.S. government Web site. 

All UK citizens planning to travel to the U.S. in the future are encouraged to apply now.  Eligible visitors seeking to travel to the United States under the VWP may apply for travel authorization via the ESTA website.

Spouse immigration and Dependent Immigration

In America, B2 visas are not regarded as potential routes to permanent residency or US citizenship; they are specifically designed for temporary visits to fulfil a pre-determined purpose.

Spouses and dependents cannot obtain a "Dependant Visa" to accompany the principle holder, but they may be able to secure their own B2 visas in order to do so. In cases where a B2 holder's dependents are applying to join the principle, they must qualify for and obtain their own grant. Find out further information on our US K1 Fiancee Visa page.