The Tourist Visa (aka the “visitor visa”) is one of the items I’m asked about the most. What, where, and how does one go about applying for and getting approved for this visa. This article will go through the process from start to finish.
What is the Tourist Visa?
The B2 visa (see I.N.A. 101(a)(150(B)) is a non-immigrant visa that permits a foreign national to enter the United States on a temporary basis for either one of two very specific reasons. You must intend to enter the United States solely for the purposes of pleasure or for medical treatment.
Where do I Apply for the Tourist Visa?
In order to apply for the tourist visa you need to fill out and submit the DS-160 through the Consular Electronic Application Center website. This is also the form that you use when applying for the K-1 fiancé(e) visa. More about this visa at a later time.
How to Get Approved for the Tourist Visa
There is no magic formula for an approval but what follows is what I’ve seen work in my clients’ filings.
Remember: You have to present the best case of your non-immigrant intent. The consular officer has to be satisfied that your documentation and testimony shows your intention to return to your home country after your temporary visit.
Categories That Demonstrate Non-immigrant Intent:
Do you have strong family ties to your home country?
Birth certificate of your children, who are in your care.
Medical records or letter from doctor of children or parents (if sick), who are in your care.
Do you have strong physical ties in your home country that you intend to return to?
Copy of deed of property in your name, long term lease of the residence, letter from landlord, etc.
Copy of lease or deed of automobile, copy of automobile insurances, etc.
Do you have strong financial ties to your home country?
Proof of either full-time employment or financial interest in a business.
Letter from your current employer stating that you will resume your work with them after your time in the U.S., how long you’ve worked there, etc.
Letter from a prospective employer stating that to will be offered a position upon your return from the U.S.
Copy of your business’ webpage or social media pages.
Copy of your business’ operating agreement or any other document that can prove your financial interest in the business.
Do you have other strong ties to your home country?
Bring documents (letter from institution, copy of court schedule, enrollment letter, etc. affirming your enrollment in university or vocational level studies.
Letters confirming your involvement or leadership position in your local community or cultural association.
Do you have sufficient funds to cover your travel expense and your stay in the United States?
Copies of bank statements, investment accounts, savings account, etc.
If you have specific plans (visit the Statute of Liberty, Disneyworld, etc.) bring a sample itinerary. This will not make or break your application but it can help demonstrate a tangible reason why a tourist visa should be granted.
Do you have a positive visa and immigration history?
Your passport will have your entries and timely exits from other countries.
This demonstrates a pattern of obeying immigration laws and will show the Consular Officer that you will most likely enter and timely leave the U.S.
Previous denials or cancellation of a U.S. visa will also be weighed against you.
Lack of Financial Means
One aspect of the process that applicants have issue with is demonstrating the means to finance their stay and that they are not really seeking this visa in order to find work in the United States. However, this doesn’t mean you can’t still persuade the consular officer to grant your visa.
The I-134, Affidavit of Support is one way to overcome the financial hurdle when applying for a tourist visa. This allows a United States Citizen or Lawful Permeant Resident to essentially “guarantee” that the non-immigrant will not become a public charge during their trip to the United States. The sponsor evidences that they have the financial means (federal tax income, bank statements, etc.) to provide for the visitor, should that need arise. The bare minimum amount is based on a financial calculation provided by U.S. immigration.
The goal of the documents and the consular interview is to demonstrate to the officer your non-immigrant intent. There is no magic formula in getting to an approval but if you bring the right documents and answer questions in a way that shows your intention to return to your home country, than the odds will be stacked in your favor.
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