Every year, millions of people across the world visit the United States (US) for pleasure, recreation, or leisure using the B-2 visitor visa which is strictly for tourism activities. Besides adventure in the US, this visa covers visiting family members, friends, or relatives in the USA, attending a religious festival, or medical treatment in the US. As a prospective tourist in the US, this guide will show you step-by-step the things to do – documents, steps to apply, and other information – that will help you to have a smooth US tourist visa application.
As already hinted, the tourism visa to the United States is called the “B-2 visitor visa”. To qualify for this visa, you must meet the requirements outlined by the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) Section 214(b) which are:
- You are visiting purely for tourism activities or Medicare in the US.
- You intend to stay for a brief period.
- You have the minimum evidence of funds sufficient to cater to your expenses during your tourist visit to the US.
- You have a non-US resident relative (family or friend) who can assure your return when you’re done with your tourism visit in the US.
- You agree not to extend your period of stay when the time that you stipulated to stay expires.
Please, note that despite the above requirements you may still be denied a tourist Visa to the US if your country is on the US tourist Visa exemption list.
Application & Documentation
If you have met the general requirements above, it’s time to consider the documents required for the application process. These include:
- A visa interview appointment letter that confirms that you booked an appointment for a visa
- Obtaining, filling, and submitting a Nonimmigrant Visa Electronic Application (DS-160) Form on the Visa application website.
- A National Passport of your home country which supports travel to the US and whose validity is not less than 6 months of your intended duration of stay in the United States.
- One (1) passport photograph having the required immigration properties for US visa application:
- Size: 2″x2″ (5cmx5cm); square-shaped.
- Minimum dimensions: 600 pixels x 600 pixels (height x width).
- Maximum dimensions: 1200 pixels x 1200 pixels (height x width).
- Age: not more than six months old.
- Shows your eyes.
- Head Position: center.
- Head size: covers 50% – 70% (i.e. 2/3) of the photo’s total height.
- Shadows: No
- A receipt proof of payment of the non-refundable nonimmigrant visa application processing fee, and where applicable, visa issuance reciprocity fee, Doctor’s fees (for proof of good health), and/or proof of character fee(s). This should be paid in local currency.
You may also go along with any additional supporting documents that may ease your US tourist visa application. This includes academic transcripts and school records/results (students); bank statements, current proof of income, employment letter, travel itinerary, criminal/court records, etc.
How to Apply
To apply, follow these steps:
Step 1: Apply for the Visa
Visit the Visa application website and pay the US tourist visa application fee of $160.
Step 2: Register Your DS-160 Form
Complete the Nonimmigrant Visa Electronic Application (DS-160) form.
Step 3: Schedule Your Appointment for the Visa interview
The visa interview is done at the U.S. embassy/consulate and you’ll be required to present the documents already discussed in this article. Also, you are required to show decorum, truthfulness, maturity, and civility in responding to the interview questions.
For (and during) your interview, you will be required to present the following:
- The ten (10) digit barcode number at the confirmation page of your DS-160 form.
- The receipt number on your MRV fee payment receipt.
- Your passport number.
Step 3: Go for the Interview
When your visa interview date and time arrive, go to the U.S. embassy/consulate with all the required documents already enumerated in this article as well as the supported documents.
U.S. Visitor Visa Wait Times
It takes 3 days to 2 months for a US tourist visa application to be processed. Also, it may take the same time or more to book a visa appointment. However, if it’s an emergency and an applicant meets the requirements for emergency visa appointment booking, a visa may be processed in days.
Generally, a US tourist visa application is reviewed within 3 days to 2 months depending on the volume of applications coming in at the time.
US Tourist Visa Application Delay or Denial
Not all visa applications get approved due to several reasons. Your visa may be delayed or denied for the following reasons:
- Falsification of information.
- Inability to show sufficient proof of nationality and relations in the home country.
- Evidence of criminal records.
- low proof of funds.
- Non-availability of a guarantor to guarantee a safe return ticket upon completion of the visit.
- Incomplete or incorrect application information.
- Poor communication during the visa interview.
US tourist visa application is intended for a temporary stay and NOT a permanent stay in the United States. To process it you need to apply for the B-2 tourist visa and meet the requirements and eligibility as enshrined in Section 214(b) of the Immigration and Nationality Act.
You may be eligible for this visa if you meet the requirements, pay the required fees, do the necessary documentation, and pass the visa appointment interview at the US embassy. However, where found wanting, your visa application may be denied.
Note, also, that you do not need a USA tourist visa if your country is enlisted in the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) or if you are from Bermuda or Canada. Finally, you can stay for up to 10 years in the United States with a US tourist visa and extend it by six months by filing the I-539 application form.