B-2 Visitors for Pleasure

Most nonimmigrants admitted each year enter the United States as B-2 visitors for pleasure or tourists. The B-2 visitor visa is used to enter the U.S. for many reasons which include these types of visits:

  • tourist visits;
  • social visits to friends and relatives;
  • entries to obtain U.S. medical treatment;
  • visits to participate in conventions of social organizations;
  • short term visits by participants in amateur arts, entertainment, sports or similar events with no remuneration;
  • visits by foreign dependents of U.S. Armed Forces personnel;
  • entries by accompanying D or B-1 aliens;
  • entries in order for a fiancé(e) to marry a U.S. citizen but who will depart;
  • prospective students visits to U.S. schools; and
  • U.S. entries to participate in incidental or short courses of study.

This list of reasons under which a B visa may be used is not exclusive and depends on the facts and circumstances surrounding the case.

Keep in mind that B visa status is not the same as Visa Waiver status, discussed elsewhere on the site, although it is used for similar purposes. To obtain entry to the U.S. using B status, all foreign nationals, except for Canadians, must obtain a B visa stamp from the U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad prior to entry into the United States .

Qualifying for a Visa

Applicants for visitor visas must show that they qualify under provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act. The presumption in the law is that every visitor visa applicant is an intending immigrant. Therefore, applicants for visitor visas must overcome this presumption by demonstrating that:

  • The purpose of their trip is to enter the U.S. for pleasure, medical treatment, or other valid B-2 purpose;
  • They plan to remain for a specific, limited period; and
  • They have a residence outside the U.S. as well as other binding ties which will insure their return abroad at the end of the visit.

Passing through a U.S. Port of Entry

Applicants should be aware that a visa does not guarantee entry into the United States. Immigration authorities have the authority to deny admission, and determine the period for which the bearer of a visitor visa is authorized to remain in the United States.

Upon appearing at a U.S. port of entry with the B visa stamp in the passport, an Immigration official must authorize the traveler’s admission to the U.S. At that time the Form I-94, Record of Arrival-Departure, which notes the length of stay permitted, is stamped. Similar to B-1 visa status, a period of authorized stay on U.S. soil is typically granted for no more than 3 months initially but may be granted for up to six months. Those visitors who wish to stay beyond the time indicated on their Form I-94 must file Form I-539, Application to Extend Status. Immigration Forms are available for download from the USCIS Forms and Fees page at www.uscis.gov. The decision to grant or deny a request for extension of stay is made solely by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

Under either B-1 or B-2 status, if an extension is not granted within 240 days, the alien must depart the United States even if the application has not been approved or adjudicated.