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Non-Immigrant Visas for Visitors to the U.S.

To enter the United States temporarily as a visitor, you are usually required to obtain some type of nonimmigrant visa. Your stay in the United States will be for a limited period of time, and will be subject to restrictions based on the reason for which your visa was issued -- for tourism (pleasure), business, or medical treatment. These visitor visas require the holder to make clear to the U.S. Consulate or Embassy that the holder does not intend to remain permanently in the United States. 

B-2 Visitors Visa for Pleasure

The B-2 visa is issued to people from other countries, seeking to enter the United States on a temporary basis for the following purposes:

  1. Visiting friends or relatives, tourism or vacationing.

  2. Seeking medical treatment.

  3. Participating in conventions, conferences or other fraternal or social organization meetings.

  4. Participating in amateur sporting events, theatrical or musical events, or other events, for which they will receive no money or other form of compensation.

Individuals seeking this type of visa have the burden of convincing the consular officer that they do not intend to remain in the United States permanently. It is important that applicant receive approval for a B-2 visa on the first attempt -- a denial will be stamped onto the applicant's passport and will make it much more difficult for him or her to obtain a visa on subsequent attempts.

Applicant's Burden of Proof

After completing all of the documentation for a pleasure visa, the biggest challenge lies ahead. In order to obtain a visa from the consular officer, an applicant must clearly and convincingly show the purpose of the trip, the intent to depart the United States, and economic ability to pay for the trip.

There are no forms or regulations that govern what an applicant needs to submit to the consular officer to establish these things. However, a letter from a business that states the purpose of your travel, letters from friends and relatives, bank statements, a tour company itinerary, or a letter from a doctor stating that you will be receiving medical treatment may all be helpful in meeting this requirement. In addition, an applicant must show some kind of tie to his or her home country that would require or strongly encourage the applicant's return home -- such as a permanent residence, positive employment prospects, or family obligations. 

Visa Waiver Program

In some situations, foreign nationals coming to the United States for pleasure for less than 90 days may be able to enter the United States without a visa. Currently, 28 foreign countries are qualified under the United States Visa Waiver Pilot Program. However, a person entering the U.S. under this program is not allowed to work or study at an educational institution, and may not change his or her status to another visa category.

Do you need legal help with the nonimmigrant visitor visa process? Go here to locate an experienced immigration attorney near you.

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