The Ultimate Clash: The B-2 Visitor Visa; Should I stay or should I go?

Kevin Lawrence Dixler

Written by

Immigration Attorney - Chicago, IL

Contributor Level 20

Posted over 5 years ago. 17 helpful votes



Why did I come to the U.S.?

A B-2 tourist visa is used to tour the United States and/or visit U.S. resident family and/or friends.


What should I avoid doing while in the U.S.?

You must not be employed and/or work, when you enter the U.S. and remain on a B-2 visitor visa. A visitor visa is not for full time studies, so it should not be renewed for educational purposes. Of course, you must not commit a crime. If you seek asylum, then your B-2 visitor visa is usually revoked and terminated regardless of the decision. If you have any further concerns, seek an experienced immigration and visa attorneys advice.


How Long Should I Stay in the U.S. on a B-2 tourist/visitor visa?

It depends upon why you came. Also, whether you want to eventually lawfully return to the U.S. Do you want your B-2 visitor visa to be renewed in the future? The maximum time that you 'can stay' on a B-2 visa, without filing an extension, will depend upon what is marked on the form I-94 entry card. Just because the CBP allows you to stay for 90 to 180 days does not mean that you should stay for the full 90 to 180 days. If you came to tour the Grand Canyon, have spent the money and all the time you have planned, then you should return to your home country. If you finish travel in two weeks, then stay two weeks. If four days, then four days. There are personal risks to any decision. Although a B-2 visit can remain as long as the I-94 entry card indicates, such a prolonged stay can create challenges on a future visit.


What if I want to stay in the U.S. on a B-2 tourist visa longer than I planned?

A B-2 visitor is always allowed to change their mind after they arrive. A visitor can stay in the U.S. longer, where the form I-94 allows a longer stay. The challenge is, how will you support yourself if you cannot lawfully work? What will happen to your career, or job, when you return to your home country? Why have you changed your mind? A visitor should seriously consider the consequences to their immediate family and their ability to keep a job in their home country.


What if I change my mind while in the U.S. and want to immigrate?

A person can always change their mind, but the concern is whether that B-2 visa holder can lawfully change visa status or immigrate to the U.S., where that is their desire. Some foreigners file applications that they may not qualify for and wait years for a decision. Occassionally, risky B-2 extension applications are filed for those who cannot lawfully remain the U.S. If the U.S. Government accept an application, then this does not mean that the extension application will be approved.


What are the Consequences if I stay beyond the expiration date on my I-94 visitors card?

If a person stays past the time allowed on their form I-94 entry card, then the U.S. Government counts those days as unlawful presence. The USCIS must decide what to do for minor and major abuses, but minor errors are not always fatal. However, why take risks! If a person stays more than 180 days after the expiration 'and leaves the U.S.,' then that person is legally barred from lawfully returning for three years; if you stay more than 365 days after expiration of the form I-94, then you can be barred for ten years upon discovery. No one wants to be told that they cannot continue with their holiday, must return home and may never be allowed to return to the U.S., again. If you believe that there are good faith reasons to stay and extend, then contact an experienced immigration attorney before you make a final decision. If you have overstayed and think that you must stay, then again, contact an experienced immigration and visa attorney.


What if I want to Extend my B-2 tourist visit beyond six months?

This is always a risk, even if approved. The USCIS may extend a visit, but in doing so, it may be difficult to ever use the B-2 visa, again. There can be concern, delay, and a potential hassle upon reaching a port of entry in the future. Timing your visits to the U.S. for a reasonable duration may also prove important in the future for visa renewal.


What if I briefly leave the United States and enter again on a B-2 to extend my stay in the U.S.?

The U.S. 'may' admit anyone who presents their own valid B-2 visitors visa. However, CBP Officials at an inspection can reject a B-2 visitor. For example, a record of excessive recent visits can suggest immigrant intent or visa abuse. A brief departure followed by a new B-2 visit may also have to be reasonably explained upon request. Otherwise, a person can be denied entry, perhaps detained, and sent back to their home country.


What suggests B-2 Visa Abuse?

If you have been in the U.S. in the recent past, or have taken many visits in the last few years, CBP may be reasonably curious whether you intend to immigrate or abuse visa status on this visit. If you are dating or married to a U.S. Citizen, then this can trigger reasonable concern at inspection. CBP Officers may also have reasonable concern as to whether you are abusing your tourist visa. Some foreigners are known to live and work in the U.S. on a tourist visa, which is a violation of immigration law. Others, may plan to marry upon entering, which often indicates immigrant intent. Both CBP concerns, if reasonably confirmed, can lead to visa revocation or summary removal. The contents of a person's luggage may suggest that a person is or has been in the U.S. for a prolonged time in the past. This can suggest plans to stay for reasons other than tourism or a temporary visit.

Additional Resources

For more information go to or

Law Office of Kevin L. Dixler

Rate this guide

Related Topics

B-2 tourist visa

A B-2 tourist visa is easier to obtain than other kinds of visas, but it only allows you to visit the US for a limited period of time.

Can't find what you're looking for? Ask a Lawyer

Get free answers from experienced attorneys.


Ask now

31,525 answers this week

3,605 attorneys answering