What is a B-2 visa?
The B-2 visa is for visitors who are not eligible for visa-free travel to the US, but wish to come to the US to visit for tourism for medical treatment.
How is the B2 visa different to the B1 visa?
The B1 visa allows the visitor to carry out business-related activities while in the US.
What is the B-1/B-2 Combination Visa?
In practice, embassies will usually issue the combined visa B-1/B-2 as this allows both buiness and tourism.
Which activities are permissible on a B2 visa?
Allowable activities covered under ‘tourism’ could include:
- taking a holiday
- visiting friends and family
- participating in an amateur event, e.g. a sports contest, where you are not being paid to take part
- attending a short study course that does not result in or count towards a qualification
A B-2 visa may also be used to visit the USA for medical treatment, as long as the treatment falls within the 90-day time limit. There are, however, further requirements relating to your medical condition:
- A person who has contracted a contagious disease will not be granted a visa.
- Documentation must be provided in the case of donating an organ, to prove that you are a suitable donor.
- The treatment you intend to visit the USA to receive must not be available in your own country.
- A letter from your doctor, outlining your condition and necessary treatments, must be provided.
- You must provide some form of acceptance from the US doctor or establishment who will provide the treatment.
- You must provide evidence that you can afford to pay for any costs incurred.
What are the B-2 visa requirements?
To be eligible for a B-2 visa, the main requirement is that you prove that you do not intend to stay in the USA past the time limit of your visa.
You should provide evidence of the purpose of your visit to the USA. This could be in the form of a travel itinerary or any other document that explains the trip.
You should prove that you only wish to stay in the USA for a limited amount of time. Your return air tickets could serve this purpose.
You must prove that you have sufficient funds to cover your trip to the USA, including your return travel home. Proof of income, including bank statements, should therefore be provided.
You must prove that you have a permanent residence in a country other than the USA and that you have economic and social ties there that require you to return home after your visit. Details of your employment, home ownership, status and family in your home country would serve this purpose.
Why might a B-2 visa application be denied?
A B-2 visa application may be rejected where any of the following occur:
- insufficient documents and proof are provided
- the purposes of the visit are not eligible for a B-2 visa
- you have a criminal record
- you cannot satisfactorily prove that you intend to visit the USA for a temporary time only
- you cannot demonstrate that you have sufficient funds to pay for the visit
- you provide information that is later found to be fraudulent
- you previously stayed in the USA for a longer period than you had permission to do so
What happens at the visa interview?
After you have filed your visa petition, your interview will take place at your local US Embassy or Consulate and you will generally be at the Embassy or Consulate for between 2 to 3 hours.
Your biometric information (fingerprints, photo and signature) will be taken either before or during your interview.
Take your supporting documents with you, including the confirmation page from your DS-160 form and a copy of your appointment confirmation page.
The purpose of the interview is to ensure that you are eligible for a B-2 visa by examining your DS-160 form and supporting documents, and by asking you any relevant questions.
Should your application for a B-2 visa be successful, your visa will be added to your passport before it is returned to you.
So if you intend to visit the US for a business trip, and then take a holiday there, the combination visa is the correct one to apply for.
You will, however, be required to supply additional documents regarding the business element of your visit.
How do you apply for the B2 visa?
The first step is to complete the Online Non-immigrant Visa Application form DS-160. The online application system will require that your upload a photo so do make sure you have a suitable photo before you begin.
Information required for the DS-160 form includes:
- Personal Information: your full name and any previous names, sex, marital status, date and place of birth, nationality, whether you have ever held any other nationality, whether you have permanent residence in a country other than your country of birth, where applicable, your national identification number, US social security number and US taxpayer ID number
- Address and Phone Information, including your email address
- Passport Information: type of passport or travel document, passport/travel document number, where applicable, passport book number, issuing country or authority, location where your passport/travel document was issued, date of issue and expiry date, whether you have ever lost a passport or had one stolen
- Travel Information: the purpose of your visit to the USA? if applying for a dependent visa (wife or child), the identity of the main applicant, if relevant, your application receipt/petition number, travel plans, where you will stay whilst in the USA, the identity of who is paying for your visit
- Travel Companions Information: the identity of anyone travelling with you, and whether you are travelling as part of a group or organisation
- Previous US Travel Information: Have you visited the USA before? Have you ever been issued a US visa and details of that visa? If so, are you applying for the same type of visa and from the same country or location? Have you provided a full set of fingerprints? Have you ever lost a US visa or had one stolen, or had your US visa cancelled or revoked? Have you ever been refused a US visa or entry into the USA, or withdrawn your application for admission at the point of entry? Has an immigrant petition ever been filed with USCIS on your behalf?
US Point of Contact Information: the identity and contact details of a person in the US who can confirm your identity. Where you don’t have such a contact person, provide the name of the hotel where you will stay instead.
Family Information – Relatives: your parents’ full names and dates of birth, and whether they live in the US
- Family Information – Spouse: their full name, date and place of birth, nationality, and address
- Present Work/Education/Training Information: your primary occupation, present employer or school name and address, monthly income in your local currency, if employed, and a brief description of your duties
- Previous Work/Education/Training Information: previous employment and educational institutions attended
- Additional Work/Education/Training Information: Do you belong to a clan or tribe? Have you travelled to any other countries or regions during the last 5 years? Have you belonged to, contributed to, or worked for any professional, social or charitable organisation? Have you any specialised skills or training?
- Have you ever served in the military? Have you ever served in, been a member of, or been involved with a paramilitary unit, vigilante unit, rebel group, guerrilla group, or insurgent organisation?
- Security and Background: Medical and health information, criminal information, security information, e.g. whether you have been involved in terrorist activities,
- Immigration law violation information. Have you ever withheld a US citizen child, outside the USA, from the person who has been granted legal custody of the child in a US court? Have you illegally voted in the USA? Have you at any time renounced US citizenship for tax avoidance purposes?
- Preparer of Application: if someone has helped you to make your application, provide details of this person.
Once you have completed the online application form, print off a copy of the application form confirmation page. You will need to provide it at your interview.
Next, visit the US Visa Information and Appointment Services website to create an account, pay the machine-readable visa (MRV) application fee and schedule your interview.
How to prepare for your interview
Depending on your local US Embassy or Consulate, you may be required to pay a non-refundable visa application fee before your interview. Check the relevant Embassy or Consulate’s website for details.
If you haven’t already started, gather all the required documentation. This will include:
- Your passport or travel document, which must be valid for a minimum of 6 months after you plan to leave the USA
- The confirmation page from the DS-160 form
- Your appointment confirmation page
- A printed photo, taken within the last 6 months
- Evidence of your status in your home country
- Where you have previously been issued with a US visa, evidence of this
- Documents relating to any medical condition that could affect your visa eligibility or which you wish to receive treatment for whilst in the US
- If you have a criminal record, documents that evidence this
- If you have committed any immigration law violation, evidence of this
- Proof of the purpose of your visit to the USA
- Proof that you have sufficient funds to cover your trip and return travel
- Proof that you have permanent residence outside the US and your intention to return there after your visit
Take professional advice on the specific application requirements of the US Embassy or Consular Post where you are making your application.