A citizen of a foreign country wishing to enter the United States must usually obtain a visa. A B-2 Visa, commonly referred to as a Visitor’s Visa or a Tourist Visa, is a nonimmigrant visa for people traveling to the U.S. for a temporary stay, as opposed to an immigrant visa which is for people permanently moving to the U.S.
Acceptable Activities with a Tourist Visa
A tourist visa is designed for a foreign national to come to the U.S. and participate in activities that are recreational in nature. There are a wide range of activities in which tourists may participate without violating their status. They include the following:
• Visit with family or friends
• Medical purposes
• Activities of a fraternal, social or service nature
• Participate in amateur musical, sports, or similar events with no remuneration
Note that “work” or “employment” is not stated above. Those in the U.S. pursuant to a tourist visa are strictly prohibited from gainful employment.
All tourist visa applicants must demonstrate to a consular officer at a U.S. Embassy that they meet all of the requirements as stated in the Immigration and Nationality Act (Act). One particularly noteworthy section of the Act is 214(b), which states that all tourist visa applicants are presumed to be intending immigrants. However, as stated above, a tourist visa is designed for individuals who are only intending to travel to the U.S. for a temporary period of time.
To overcome this legal presumption, an applicant for a tourist visa must be a foreign national who has a permanent residence in a foreign country. The applicant must have no intention of abandoning that foreign residence and they must prove that they are coming to the United States solely on a temporary basis. In other words, they must show that they are only planning on remaining in the U.S. for a specific, limited period of time. The best way of proving this nonimmigrant intent is by presenting proof of social or economic ties to the applicant’s home country; ties that will ensure you return to your home country at the end of your visit.
When submitting an application for a tourist visa (DS-160), the consular officer will review documents in support of your application. These documents are one of many factors the consular officer will consider when deciding whether a tourist visa should be issued, but they are a particularly important factor. Thus, the supporting documents should be clear, detailed, well prepared, and should consist of persuasive evidence that shows that you are indeed eligible for a tourist visa. The following are common examples of supporting documents:
• Documents that prove your specific intentions of returning to your native country, including depending family members in that country
• Proof of property or business ownership, or other assets of value
• Travel itinerary and declaration about purpose of trip
• Employment letter detailing your position, salary, employment history, etc.
It is also important to never present false documents. While it is obviously crucial that you are submitting documents that increase your chances of obtaining a tourist visa, you still always want to make sure that a reasonable person reviewing the documents would not believe that the documents were fraudulent or that you were making a material misrepresentation by submitting them.
Validity of Tourist Visa
Tourist visas are commonly valid for 10 years and permit multiple trips to the U.S. However, though multiple trips are permitted, the foreign national will have to be careful about not visiting the U.S. too often. If the officer inspecting the tourist visa holder at the port-of-entry believes that the foreign national is essentially using their tourist visa to reside in the U.S., then it is always possible that they may be required to return to their native country. Regardless, unless your tourist visa is cancelled or revoked, it will be valid until the expiration date stated on the visa.
Waiver of Inadmissibility
Applicants for tourist visas must prove that they are admissible to the U.S. This means that they must not be inadmissible under the various categories set out in the Act. These categories include foreign nationals who have certain health disorders that may pose a threat to the alien or others, those convicted of crimes involving moral turpitude, those who have previously accrued too much “unlawful presence” in the U.S., those who have made a material misrepresentation to obtain an immigration benefit, etc.
Applicants who are inadmissible to the U.S. may still be eligible for a tourist visa despite their inadmissibility. Their inadmissibility would be excused if they were granted a nonimmigrant visa waiver. As with all things immigration, the waiver is more difficult to obtain than it would seem at first glance, but it is certainly possible. Please review the section of our website discussing nonimmigrant visa waivers.
Reeves Miller Zhang & Diza – Full-Service Immigration Law
There are plenty of people throughout the world who simply want to visit the United States and its historical landmarks. They do not necessarily want to live in the U.S. permanently, but rather just want to see the Statue of Liberty, or walk on the famous Las Vegas Strip. Despite this nonimmigrant intent, obtaining a tourist visa will not be easy. But the skilled legal team at Reeves Miller Zhang & Diza can help. Contact us today for a confidential consultation about your case.