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Non-Immigrant Visas: Tourist Visas

Non-Immigrant Visas: Tourist Visas

A Tourist visa, otherwise known as B-1 or B-2 visa, is obtained from a U.S. consulate in your home country. It typically authorizes a stay of six (6) months. A B-1 tourist enters the U.S. on the representation that the person intends to make an investment, buy property, or work for foreign company on a temporary assignment in the U.S. It does not authorize operating your own company or being employed by a U.S. company. A B-2 tourist, on the other hand, enters on the representation that the person intends to stay merely for pleasure or medical treatment. The waiting periods and procedures to obtain a tourist visa vary with each U.S. consulate. See below for procedures and documentary requirements.


An extension application may be not filed earlier than 60 days prior to the expiration of your stay up until the actual date of expiration. Extension applications are approved normally between two and four months. While your extension application is pending, your are permitted to stay in the U.S. legally, even though your stay may expire. If your application is approved, it is usually approved for another 6 month period and you receive notice on a Notice of Action form I-797 which you must keep with you on your departure. You cannot obtain more than one extension, i.e., stay for a total of more than one (1) year. And, if your extension application is denied, you are given 30 days to leave without being considered an overstay. See below for procedures and documentary requirements.

Visa Waiver Program

Persons from a number of specific countries, e.g., England, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, may enter the U.S. on the Visa Waiver Program. The Visa Waiver Program allows persons from included countries to enter for 90 days without applying for a standard visa. A Visa Waiver participant must arrive with a ticket leaving the U.S., and must have a “machine readable passport,” with a computer printout of scannable characters on their biographical information page of their passport. The Visa Waiver Program dispenses with the process of applying for a standard visa. A Visa Waiver participant, however, cannot obtain an extension, nor can they make an application to change their status, with certain limited exceptions. In the event you want to stay longer than 90 days, or believe you may need an extension, then you should apply for a standard visa.

Application Requirements

Your passport must be valid for a period of at least six (6) months beyond the time you intend to stay. You will also be required to demonstrate that you do not intend to stay in the U.S. Consular officers may request documents showing that you have property, have close relatives who are staying behind, and/or you are employed. You may also be required to show bank statements or other financial statements. In the event, however, that this is inadequate, and you will be depending upon a relative or friend while visiting, you should submit a letter from that person that you intend to stay with that person and will be relying upon him/her during your stay. That person will also be required to submit a Form I-134 Affidavit of Support. Consulate officers will deny your application for a tourist visa if they believe that you will seek employment or intend to stay permanently in the U.S. Background checks of your family ties, financial status, criminal history may also be conducted to verify your application.

Extension Application Requirements

You will be required to submit a I-539 Extension of Stay form and filing fees to the local USCIS regional service center covering the place where you are presently staying. This form inquires concerning your financial ability to stay without working and your intentions to leave. You will be required again to submit documents demonstrating your financial status and home country employment status. And if your financial resources are inadequate, you will also be required to submit another Affidavit of Support, Form I-134. And, in the event that you have your family with you, you will need to provide birth and marriage certificates in support of the extension application for your relatives