Temporary Visitor and Business Visas to the United States
Many immigrants have a non-immigrant tourist visa to enter and exit the United States. Most
people use a visitor visa to enter the US for short trips. Visitor visas are nonimmigrant visas to
enter the US temporarily for business (B1), tourism, pleasure, or visiting (B2), or a combination
of both (B1/B2). Keep in mind that you cannot work while in the US on either a B1 or B2 visa.
The length that the visa is issued to you will differ depending on your nationality or which
passport you carry. For example, Haitian citizens are usually issued temporary visitor visas for a
length of five years, while other nationalities may have the visa for less or more time.
You have to apply directly with the US embassy or consulate for a visitor visa. Each embassy or
consulate may have different instructions. You will need to fill out Form DS-160, submit a
photograph, and pay the application fee of $160 before you are able to get an interview with an
immigration officer. The wait time to receive an interview varies in each country. Usually, the
embassy will not require an interview if you are 13 and younger or 80 and older, however, the
immigration officer has the discretion to require an interview, regardless of age.
Make sure to present your valid passport for travel. Your passport must be valid for at least six
months beyond your stay in the US. Also be prepared to present documents showing the purpose
of your trip. You must also show that you have the intent in returning to your home country after your short trip to the US. Your financial records showing that you will be able to cover your expenses
during your stay. Copies of your bank statements and proof of current and continuing
employment can be very useful as well. If a third party will be covering your expenses, a notarized letter from that party and a copy of their bank documents or tax returns will be necessary. The most
important proof that you will submit with your application is proof of your intent to return to
your home country and proof that you will have the financial ability to cover your expenses
while in the United States.
The most important factor in your application for a visitor visa is showing that you have strong
ties to your home country. The immigration officer will spend the majority of the interview
trying to determine whether you have the intent of returning to your home country. To apply for
a B-1/B-2 visa, you must demonstrate that you do not have the intention of overstaying your visa
by providing proof that the purpose of your trip to the United States is for a temporary visit, such
as business, pleasure, or medical treatment. That you plan to remain in the United States for a
specific, limited period of time. That you have a residence outside the United States, as well as
other binding social or economic ties, that will ensure your return abroad at the end of your visit.
A letter of invitation or an affidavit of support from a US citizen is not mandatory. If the
immigration officer determines that you qualify for a visitor visa, they will issue the visa that is
then added to your passport. A visitor visa is issued for a specific period of time that allows you to
travel back and forth from your home country to the US.
It is also very important to remember that the US consulate will keep all the information that you
submitted with your applications on file. This means that any future applications for a visa, either
for a non-immigrant or immigrant visa will be cross referenced with your former applications. For example, if you apply for a tourist visa and its denied but in six months you apply for a work visa, the information provided in your tourist visa application will be compared with the information that you give in your second application to make sure that your information matches. This is very important to know and remember.
A visa does not guarantee entry into the US. When you arrive to the US, immigration officers
from the Department of Homeland Security and U.S Customs and Border Protection have the
discretion to permit or deny entry to the US. If you are allowed to enter, an I-94,
Arrival/Departure Record, will be issued. The I-94 will specify how long you are allowed to stay
in the US during that one trip. You must depart the US before the I-94 expires or else you will be
out of status and your visitor visa will be cancelled.