Visitors (B-Visa)

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Visitors (B-Visa)


Generally, a citizen of a foreign country who wishes to enter the United States must first obtain a visa, either a nonimmigrant visa for temporary stays, or an immigrant visa for permanent residence. The "B" Visitor Visa is a nonimmigrant visa for persons desiring to enter the United States temporarily for business (B-1), or temporarily for pleasure (B-2). Persons planning to travel to the U.S. for a different purpose such as students, temporary workers, crewmen, journalists, etc., must apply for a different visa in the appropriate category. The consular officer can provide additional information.


Applicants for visitor visas must show that they qualify under provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act. The presumption in the law is that every visa applicant is an intending immigrant. Therefore, applicants for visitor visas must overcome this presumption by demonstration that:

  • The purpose of their trip is to enter the U.S. for business or pleasure;

  • That they plan to remain for a specific, limited period;

  • That they have a residence outside the U.S. as well as other binding obligations which will insure their return abroad at the conclusion of the visit.


The Nonimmigrant Visa Application Form DS-156 lists classes of persons who are ineligible under U.S. law to receive visas. In some instances an applicant who is ineligible, but who is otherwise properly classifiable as a visitor, may obtain a waiver of ineligibility and be issued a visa.


Applicants for visitor visas should generally apply at the American Embassy or Consulate with jurisdiction over their place of permanent residence. Although visa applicants may apply at any U.S. consular office abroad, it may be more difficult to qualify for the visa outside the country of permanent residence.

Required Documentation:
Each applicant for a visitor visa must submit:

  • a passport valid for at least the applicant's intended period of stay in the United States (for German citizens; for certain other nationalities, the passport must be valid 6 months beyond the departure date);

  • a DS-156 Electronic Visa Application Form (EVAF) for each applicant, regardless of age, completed online, and signed by the applicant.

  • male applicants between the ages of 16-45 must fully complete supplemental form DS-157;

  • one recent photograph for each applicant, including children.

  • evidence of your intention to leave the USA after a temporary stay.

  • visa payment confirmation: evidence of having paid the non-refundable visa processing fee for each application.

  • a self-addressed, stamped (EURO stamps only!) envelope large enough for your passport and all submitted documents (regular mail, please).

Additional Documentation
Applicants must demonstrate that they are properly classifiable as visitors under U.S. law. Evidence which shows the purpose of the trip, intent to depart the United States, and arrangements made to cover the costs of the trip may be provided. It is impossible to specify the exact form the evidence should take since applicants' circumstances vary greatly. For persons traveling to the U.S. on business, a letter from the business firm indicating the purpose of the trip, the bearer's intended length of stay, and the firm's intent to defray travel costs, is an example of such documentation. For a person traveling to the U.S. for pleasure, letters from relatives or friends in the United States whom the applicant plans to visit, confirmation of participation in a planned tour, or statements from a doctor concerning proposed medical treatment are examples of such documentation.

Those applicants who do not have sufficient funds to support themselves while in the U.S. must present convincing evidence that an interested person provides support. Visitors are not permitted to accept employment during their stay in the U.S. Depending on individual circumstances, applicants may provide other evidence substantiating the purpose of the trip, and specifying the nature of binding obligations, such as family ties or employment, which would compel their return abroad after a short stay.


Unless previously canceled, a visa is valid until its expiration date. Therefore, if the traveler has a valid U.S. visitor visa in an expired passport, he or she may use it along with a new valid passport of the same nationality for travel and admission to the United States.

Applicants for visitor visas should not find it necessary to employ persons to assist them in preparing documents.

Attempting to obtain a visa by the willful misrepresentation of a material fact, or fraud, may result in the permanent refusal of a visa or denial of entry into the United States.

If the consular officer should find it necessary to deny the issuance of a visitor visa, the applicant may apply again if there is new evidence to overcome the basis for the refusal. In the absence of new evidence, consular officers are not obliged to reexamine such cases.


Applicants should be aware that a visa does not guarantee entry into the United States. The Bureau of Customs and Border Protection has authority to deny admission. Also, the period for which the bearer of a visitor visa is authorized to remain in the United States is determined by the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection, not the consular officer. At the port of entry, a Bureau of Customs and Border Protection official must authorize the traveler's admission to the U.S. At that time the Form I-94, Record of Arrival-Departure, which notes the length of stay permitted, is validated. Those visitors who wish to stay beyond the time indicated on their Form I-94 must contact the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service to request Form I-539, Extension of Stay. The decision to grant or deny a request for extension of stay is made solely by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service.

Please read the information on the visa application form DS-156 for nonimmigrant visas very carefully.

Link to the United States Diplomatic Mission

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