The U.S. tourist visa, also known as a B2 visa, is a short-term, non-immigrant visa meant for visitors coming into the United States (U.S.) for the purpose of leisure travel or personal reasons. Essentially, a tourist visa is meant for those who are intending to:
- Vacation in the United States
- Visit family and friends in the U.S.
- Participate in a musical, sports, or similar event if they’re not being paid for participation
- Receive medical treatment
Who's Eligible For A B2 Visitor Visa?
According to Section 214(b) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), if you’re the B2 applicant, it’s your responsibility to prove that you’re visiting the U.S. on a temporary basis and will return to your home country. To be eligible for a B2 visitor visa, you should be able to prove the following:
- Your visit is for a specific purpose, such as visiting family or seeing places within the U.S.
- Your trip is temporary and you will return to your home country on the completion of your purpose
- You can afford to pay for the trip for the duration of your stay in the U.S.
- You can show strong ties to your home country in the form of a home, employment, etc.
- You have no reasons for inadmissibility to the U.S., such as an arrest or documentation of an unlawful activity
What Documents Do I Need to Apply for a U.S. Tourist Visa?
One of the first steps in applying for a B2 visitor visa is to collect all the required documents and pay the necessary filing fees. There are specific documents that are required at the initial submission, and further documents that need to be taken with you for your visa interview.
Initial documents required for submission
- File form DS-160. This can be completed online. Each applicant including children are required to fill out this form
- A valid passport with at least a six month’s validity
- A passport size photograph, with certain specifications.
Supporting documents (to bring to the visa interview)
- Current proof of income, tax payments, property or business ownership, or documentation of assets
- Your travel itinerary
- Additional documents (if any) pertaining to your planned trip to the U.S. (such as a doctor’s note for medical treatment, an invitation to a family event, wedding, graduation, etc.)
- A letter from your employer detailing your position, salary, how long you have been employed, any authorized vacation, and the business purpose, if any, of your U.S. trip
What’s the Process for Getting a Tourist Visa?
- Forms: Submit all additional documents as outlined above.
- Confirmation: After filing the DS-160 online, you will receive an alpha-numeric barcode number on the Form DS-160 confirmation page. Please print this and carry it for your interview at the Visa Application Center and/or Embassy/Consulate.
- Fees: Pay the filing fees of $160.
- Visa Application Center (VAC): Book your biometrics appointment at the VAC where your fingerprints and photographs will be taken.
- Visa Interview: Schedule your interview at the nearest U.S. Consulate. You may have to wait for your interview date to come through depending upon the wait times at each consulate. Calculate your visa appointment wait times here. You’ll need your passport number and DS-160 confirmation number for this. On the scheduled date, attend your visa interview, answer all questions truthfully and submit all supporting documents as listed above.Note on Minors: Children under 14 years of age are not required to attend the appointment at the Visa Application Center or visa interview at the Embassy/Consulate. Accompanying guardians and parents can carry the above documents.
- Approval: If the consular officer approves your visa, you’ll be notified about the duration of your stay in the U.S. and the visa will be stamped accordingly. Your visa duration may be anywhere between two to six months, and extendable by another six months. Check out this guide to extending your U.S. visa.
Once you have your B2 visitor visa approved, you can book your tickets to the U.S.
Health and Travel Insurance for your trip to the U.S.
While it’s not mandatory for foreign visitors to purchase travel insurance for their visit to the U.S., it’s highly advisable to purchase suitable travel medical insurance. Even if you’re only visiting for a short period of time, purchasing travel medical insurance will provide you with the peace of mind that your health and trip costs are covered in the event of an accident.
If you decide to purchase a travel insurance policy, you’ll be pleased to know that there are several options and customizations available. If you have specific underlying health conditions or you want insurance that will provide Covid coverage, for example, you can build an insurance plan that will fit your specific needs.