How to Obtain a Visitor Visa to the USA? B1/B2 Visa FAQ

Going on a trip to the United States? If you need a visa to travel, you will most likely need to apply for a B1/B2 visa. This is a visitor visa issued for tourists in most cases. If your purpose is to conduct business negotiations, attend conferences, or any other activity that falls under the definition of a business visit, then you will also need this visa type.

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In this article, we will answer the most common questions about applying for a B1/B2 visa to the U.S..

What is the difference between a B1 visa and a B2 visa?

B-1 visa is initially a business visa for persons entering the United States to attend professional events, resolve legal issues, and participate in business negotiations. The B-2 visa is for travel of a personal nature. The purpose of the trip may be for tourism, visiting friends or relatives, receiving medical care, or participating in various non-commercial activities. Generally, the B-1 and B-2 categories are combined to produce the B-1/B-2 visa.

In any case, the required paperwork is the same for both business and tourist trips.

How to apply for a B1/B2 visa?

The B1/B2 visa application process begins with the payment of a $160 non-refundable visa fee and filling out the DS-160 online form on the official U.S. State Department website. The form must be accompanied by one digital photo that meets U.S. visa photo requirements.

You can find the DS-160 guidelines at this link.

To make an appointment for your interview at the consulate, you will need to create a personal account at one of the following services:

If you have family members traveling with you, you will need an account for each of them. Click the Schedule My Appointment link and follow the instructions. You will need the following data:

How much does the B1/B2 visa cost?

As with all American non-immigrant visas, the price is $160. There are no additional charges, unless you use an agency's services. Note that the fee is not refundable.

B1/B2 visa documentation

The list of required documents that must be brought to the interview at the embassy is as follows:

The applicant may take any additional documents for the B1/B2 visa interview at the embassy. It is best if they are originals, however, in various cases, it is possible to provide copies as well. The entire package must be presented in person during the interview with the consul. This may include the following papers:

What questions should I expect at a U.S. tourist visa interview?

We have collected the most typical questions and answers in this article.

Do I need to buy a ticket to the U.S. in advance to apply for a B1/B2 visa?

Visitor visa requirements don’t include tickets or hotel bookings. However, it is advisable to prepare verbal answers to questions about the purpose and route of your trip.

What are B1/B2 visa photo requirements?

U.S. visa photo specifications are the same for all types of travel documents. Their main list is as follows:

Here is an example of a USA visa photo:

USA visa photo

If the picture does not meet the established parameters, the application will not be accepted.

So take a suitable USA visa photo with your smartphone:

Take an image with a smartphone or camera against any background, upload it here and instantly get a professional photo for your visa, passport or ID.
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What is the B1/B2 visa duration?

The B1/B2 visa validity varies from 1 to 10 years and depends primarily on the nationality of the applicant. This is a multiple-entry visa: you can enter the United States on it several times during this period.

What is the allowed B1/B2 visa length of stay?

The date on your visa is the deadline by which you can enter the United States. The number of days of stay is stamped at the border: the officer puts in the passport the last date by which the visitor must leave. Usually, the maximum stay per trip is up to 180 days.

How does the passport control officer determine what date to put on the passport? It's simple: if the visitor travels to America infrequently and stays there for a short time, then he/she will always be allowed to stay in the U.S. for up to 180 days. But if you visit the U.S. on a multi-visa too often and stay there each time for an unreasonably long time, then there will be legitimate questions at the border. The visitor visa is issued for the purpose of short-term trips, and long stays are viewed negatively. Therefore, the officer may allow the applicant to stay in the country for a shorter period of time.

How to apply for a B1/B2 visa for a child?

If you are going to the U.S. with a minor under 14 years of age, you must attach to the primary set of documentation the following paperwork :

Children under 14 years of age are exempt from the fingerprinting process. In some cases, the Consulate reserves the right to call one or both parents for an interview. The presence of a child under the age of 14 is not required.

What is the average B1/B2 visa processing time?

If you are applying for a U.S. visa for the first time, the application process can take anywhere from 2-3 weeks to several months. It all depends on the country where you will be interviewed: each embassy has its own waiting time for the interview. The interview takes 5-10 minutes, after which the visa officer will tell you whether you will get a visa. In case of a positive answer, it takes no more than three working days to paste the visa into your passport.

Can I get a second B1/B2 visa without an interview?

If you already had a visa to the U.S., and it expired less than 11 months ago, there is a good chance that you fall under the simplified version of registration. In this case, you do not need to go to an interview, and it usually takes no more than 3-4 weeks to get it. Learn more about it in this article.

Can I apply for a B1/B2 visa if my passport expires in less than 6 months?

Yes, you can. The main thing is that your passport must be valid at the time of the interview at the Embassy, and it must have one blank page to paste the visa. In the future, you can enter the U.S. with two passports: a valid one and one with a visa.

What to do if a am denied a B1/B2 visa?

As a rule, tourist visas are denied based on failure to prove a lack of immigration intentions, i.e. 214(b). However, the refusal is not a ban: you can reapply for a visa even the day after the unsuccessful interview. You will have to go through all the procedures (filling out the form, paying the fee, and making an appointment for an interview) again. However, it is highly recommended that you gather more documents confirming your ties to your home country for the following interview.

Can I stay in the USA after my B1/B2 visa expires?

You can extend your legal stay in the United States by filing Form I-539 before your I-94 expires. If you remain in the country after that period of lawful stay without filing an extension (Form I-539), you violate immigration laws. As a result, you could be denied entry in the future. There may also be problems if you want to immigrate to the United States.

Can I get married in the United States on a tourist visa?

Technically, you can get married in the U.S. if you go there on a B1 visa. But the likelihood of getting a visitor visa is low if you are in a long-term relationship with an American citizen. If the visa officer finds out about your relationship, they may assume that the type of visa requested does not match the purpose of the trip. This is why we recommend that you apply directly for a K-1 visa, which does not oblige you but does entitle you to marry in the United States.

Does DV lottery entry affect my tourist visa status?

The DS-160 form does not ask about the Green Card Lottery program, and you do not need to indicate this information. But if you are asked about it at your interview, you should answer truthfully: the visa officer has access to this information. However, participation in the DV Lottery itself is not considered immigration intent. The main thing is to provide sufficient evidence that you do not intend to immigrate to the United States on a visitor visa.

Looking for more info about the visa to the United States? Check our general U.S.A. visa FAQ to find all the answers

Last update: November 2022


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