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A visa gives you the right to travel to the United States and request admission at the port of entry. The B-2 Tourist Visa allows you to travel to the United States for tourism purposes as a tourist visitor. There are several types of visas depending on the purpose or type of travel and in general visas to travel to the United States are divided in two main groups:
Immigrant visas are visas that allows you to travel to live permanently in the United States and are also known as “Green Card” or “Permanent Residence”, then the other type are the non-immigrant visas that are more commonly known just as visas in general. A non-immigrant visas doesn’t give you the right to stay permanently in the U.S., they are issued for the purpose of one or multiple temporary short trips to travel as a visitor to the United States. The B-2 tourist visa is a type of non-immigrant visa.
The B-2 tourist visa is designed for tourist visitors that wish to travel for pleasure to go on tourist activities, like sightseeing, visiting friends and relatives. The B2 visitor visa is also used for the purpose of traveling to the U.S. to obtain medical treatment. You are not supposed to work or get paid for services you provide with a B1/B2 visa in the U.S.. If you would like to work in the U.S. then you will need some type of visa that allows you to work, like a work visa, an investor visa, or a green card. Another type of non-immigrant visa is the B-1 Business visa that is given sometimes together with the B-2 tourist visa (B1/B2 visa). If you have a B-1 Business visitor visa you can travel to the U.S. to have business meetings, negotiate contracts (for example between your business in your country and U.S. companies), attend conferences, participate in short-term training, but you are not allowed to work or to get paid for services provided in the United States with a B-1/B-2 visa in general. Besides the regular business category for B-1 visas, the personal or domestic servants or domestic employees including but not limited to cooks, butlers, chauffeurs, housemaids, parlormaids, valets, footmen, nannies, au pairs, mothers' helpers, gardeners, paid companions, and others, who are accompanying or following to join an employer in the U.S. are also eligible for the B-1 visa. If the employer is a foreign diplomat official then the B-1 doesn't apply for his domestic employees and instead the right visa classification is the A-3 or G-5.
Citizens of most countries need a tourist visa in order to travel to the U.S. for tourism purposes, with the exception citizens from countries members of the visa waiver program that enjoy the benefit of traveling to the U.S. for short times without a visa. In general visa waiver citizens are not required to apply for a visa to travel to the United States. However they are required to apply for travel authorization using the ESTA system. Even if a visa is not required most citizens of Visa Waiver Countries they might find some advantages in applying for the B1/B2 visa instead. Visa Waiver Program only allows a visitor to stay in the U.S. for 3 months, but the B1/B2 sometimes allows you to stay in the U.S. for up to 6 months, subject to approval by the officer at the U.S. port of admission. Citizens of countries part of the Visa Waiver Program are required to have a machine readable passport in order to travel to the U.S. There are other advantages to consider when deciding if travel with the visa waiver program or applying for a B1/B2 visa instead.
The application for most non-immigrant visas, like the tourist visa, must be submitted at the local consulate or embassy in country of residence of the visa applicant. It is important to know well all the visa application requirements, including how to make a visa appointment, how to pay the visa application fees, how to submit the application for the visa, and to use the current forms to apply for the B-2 Tourist Visa.
If your tourist visa is approved it will be printed in your passport. It is important to order this immigration package to understand the information and items printed in your visa. Your visa will include your name and last name, your passport number. The visa can be for single entry or for multiple entry. Some of the items that the visa will include are your birth date, sex, issue date, visa expiration date, visa type or class, your nationality/citizenship and the visa issuing post name.
A tourist visa allows you to stay in the U.S. for a limited time, in addition you must stay inside the U.S. only for the time allowed by the immigration officer at the point of entry, the allowed time of stay in the U.S. will be written in your Form I-94 Arrival and Departure Record when entering the United States. It is important to understand the difference between the expiration time of the actual visa and the time allowed to stay inside the US when traveling with the visa. When traveling with a B-2 tourist visa or other visa make sure not to exceed the maximum time allowed to stay in America as this can have very serious consequences including entry denial in the future.
Important: If you stay longer than your allowed time to stay in your I-94 form, you will be considered "Out-of-Status", and you will be considered an illegal immigrant. Staying beyond the period of time authorized by U.S. Immigration is a serious violation of U.S. immigration laws, and it may cause you to be ineligible to apply for a visa in the future, or to travel again in the future. Order this information package to learn more about the authorized time of stay and about trips to contiguous territories to the United States, like Mexico and some Caribbean islands.
The visa expiration date is not the same that the time a visa holder is allowed to stay on each trip in the U.S. Even if your tourist visa is about to expire you still can travel to the U.S. with such visa, or if your visa expires while you are traveling inside the United States you can stay until the end of your allowed time of stay as indicated in your Form I-94. To learn more about visa expiration order this information package now.
It is possible to request an extension on the time allowed to stay in the U.S. with a tourist visa. If you enter the US with a B-1/B2 visa, and want to extend your stay in the United States you may be eligible to apply for an additional 6 months extension of stay depending on your immigration status and visa conditions. The department in charge of the authorization to extend your stay is the USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services). Your application is not guaranteed to be approved, therefore it is important to apply for an extension of stay well in advance before the expiration of your current allowed stay.
If your passport is lost or stolen and the passport had a valid U.S. Visa then it is important to take the right measurements to notify the post that issued your visa and to request a replacement visa. Learn what to do if your passport with a valid U.S. visa is lot or is stolen. Find out how to apply for a replacement visa.
Order this information package to find out more information about how to apply for a B-2 Tourist Visa and the answer to several visa questions including how to access official visa application forms, application filing fees, passport requirements, general information, U.S. consulates and U.S. embassies contact information, and application information for a tourist visa.