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How to Obtain a B-2 Travel Visitor Visa

Posted by attorney Carl Shusterman

Travel Visitor Visa

For citizens of foreign countries attempting to enter the United States as temporary visitors for pleasure, it is generally required that they obtain a B-2, or "visitor" visa. Travelling into the U.S. for pleasure can cover a wide variety of possible reasons, including: travel within the United States, visiting family or friends, or obtaining medical treatment.

Visa Waiver Program

Travelers from Western Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, South Korea, and Singapore for less than 90 days may be exempt from obtaining a visa and can go through a different eligibility process known as the Visa Waiver Program.

Qualifying for a Visa

In order to qualify for any visitor visa applicants must demonstrate that they are properly classifiable as a visitor under the provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act. Applicants must demonstrate that:

  • The purpose of your trip is to enter the U.S. for business, pleasure, or medical treatment;
  • You plan to stay for a specific, fixed amount of time;
  • You have sufficient funds to cover your expenses while in the U.S.;
  • You have evidence of social and/or economic ties abroad; and
  • You have a residence outside of the U.S. and other ties abroad which ensure your return after your visit

Applying for a Visa

If you can display those previous characteristics, you can begin to apply for a visitor visa at the U.S. Consulate or Embassy with jurisdiction over your country of residence. It is important to apply well in advance of your date of travel, if possible, due to more stringent and ever changing visa screening practices.

The visa application process begins with an interview at the U.S. Consulate or Embassy with jurisdiction over the visitor's home country. You must make the interview appointment in advance. Information about visa wait times for different embassies or consulates can be found at on the U.S. Department of State Website. At the interview, you will be required to provide a digital fingerprint and pay all fees. There is also a visa reciprocity table, which attempts to charge citizens entering the U.S. from certain countries the same fees those countries would charge U.S. citizens.

Required Documentation

  • Nonimmigrant Visa Application, Form DS-156. This is a general form that gathers personal information.
  • Supplemental Nonimmigrant Visa Application, Form DS-157. This is a form that outlines details about the nature of your visit.
  • A passport which is eligible for travel to the United States
  • A 2"x2" photograph

You may also be required to display evidence which shows the nature and timing of your trip, present convincing evidence that you either have the funds to support yourself while in the U.S. or know someone who will provide support, and show evidence of familial or business ties that would compel you to return to your country of citizenship.

Application for obtaining a travel visa may be a long and strenuous process, but it can be simplified if you take the steps to prepare yourself and give yourself enough time in advance to prepare for your trip.


The cost of the application fee is constantly changing and can be found on the Bureau of Consular Affairs Website.


Visa Waiver Program

Visa Wait Times

Visa Fees

Visa Reciprocity Table

Visa Forms

Visa Photo Requirements

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