US Visit Visa – A Comprehensive Guide
Being one of the largest countries in the world, the US offers some of the most spectacular destinations for all types of visitors. Whether it is the Grand Canyon or Hawaii’s volcano, Florida’s gorgeous beaches or New York’s iconic landmarks, the United States boasts some really breathtaking tourist attractions in every part of the nation. So, regardless of whether you are a nature buff, history enthusiast, music lover or adventure seeker, you will find something that will totally fascinate you in America.
But, then I don’t need to pitch the US as a holiday destination, given that estimates suggest that 78 million international tourists visited the nation in 2018 alone. And, this number is only expected to rise, with Statista forecasting that the figure would come close to touching the 90 million mark by 2022.
The first step in planning any travel to the United States is to apply for a vsit visa. Non-immigrant visas are issued to all those who wish to visit the country for business, tourism, medical treatment or a combination of these purposes. The visa category that applies to such purposes is the B1/B2 category.
Here’s a complete guide to the B1/B2 visitor visa application process.
What is a US B1 Visit Visa?
You need to apply for a B1 visa if you wish to visit America for business purposes, such as:
- Attend a conference, either educational or professional
- Attend meetings and/or consult business associates
- Settle an estate or negotiate a contract
The B1 Visa allows travelers to enter the US for a temporary period of about six months. However, you are not permitted to start or conduct business under this visa.
What is a US B2 Visit Visa?
You need to apply for a B2 visa if you wish to travel to the United States for the purposes of pleasure and recreation, which could include meeting friends and relatives, tourism, social service, medical assistance and participation in non-remuneration-based activities. The maximum period of stay permitted under this visa category can range from one month to one year.
Related: US Tourist Visa – Comprehensive Guide
How Can I get a Visit Visa to USA?
You can get a visit visa to USA by applying for the appropriate visa category online, paying the fees, scheduling the interview and getting your visa approved on your passport. It all depends on the officer who’s interviewing you to decide whether you are eligible for a visit visa.
How to Apply for US Visit Visa?
The application process begins with filling up the DS-160 Form online. Once filled, you will need to upload it back on the site, from where it will be processed by the US Department of State. It is important that you provide accurate and complete information in the form, since all information will be verified by the officials and any discrepancy could lead to the application being rejected.
How to fill the DS 160 Visit Visa Application form
Before starting to fill the DS160 form, you need to have your following documents ready with you.
- Passports (Old and New)
- School Certificates/College Degree Documents etc (For checking dates)
Step – 2
Keep answering the questions asked in the form, and keep saving your application, should something break in between like your internet and you lose your data.
Further into the application, you’ll need your photos (US Visa Specification) and choose a way to pay your application form fees. Which currently is at USD 160. You can either pay the fees online or pay it at a bank near you (chosen banks will be shown).
For example, if you are applying for US visit visa from India, you will be able to pay your fee at Axis Bank by showing your passport and your application ID (seen in the AAXXXXXX format in above screenshots).
A digital photo of the applicant will also need to be uploaded with the completed form. In case you have trouble uploading the photo, you can bring a printed copy to the visa interview.
Tips to Fill US Visit Visa Application
- It is advisable to answer all mandatory questions in English, apart from when you are asked to provide your details in your native language.
- A majority of the questions are self-explanatory. For the rest, clear explanations are provided so that even a first-timer can fill in the form, without any hurdles.
- Save your application in a local file on your device or laptop, in case you are unable to finish filling the form in one go. This is because if you leave the form idle for 20 minutes at a stretch, the session will expire, resulting in a loss of all the data input by you so far. This measure has been taken to mainly for security purposes.
- Make sure your internet browser supports 123-bit encryption and has java script enabled for a smooth form-filling experience.
Information Required to fill US Visit Visa Application
A few basic details should be kept handy while filling the form. Apart from your name, as it appears on your passport, keep your date of birth, date of issue and expiry of your passport, passport number and so on handy. In addition, information regarding your immediate family, such as the names of your parents, mailing address, occupation, and income details are required. Last but not least, your residential address in the US and recent travel date to the country, if any, are required.
After filling up the form carefully, the next step is paying the non-refundable visa fee, which is $160 for the B1/B2 visa. This fee can be paid in your domestic currency, so make sure you check the exchange rate before making the transaction.
Further, you will be required to schedule two appointments. The first appointment is with the Offsite Facilitation Center, where biometric information, including your photo and fingerprints, will be collected. The second appointment is with the US embassy or consulate closest to your location for a personal interview.
What are the Documents Required for US Tourist Visa?
- Original passport, with validity of at least six months beyond your intended period of stay in the US
- Old passports, if any
- One digital and one hard copy of your photograph, meeting all the visa parameters
- Stamped confirmation page of the DS-160 form
- Valid receipt of fee payment
- US interview appointment letter
What are the Supporting Documents Required for US Visit Visa?
- Complete travel itinerary
- Bank statements, passbook copies or any other financial statements as proof of sufficient funds to meet all your monetary needs while in the US
- Tax documents, Tax ID, etc.
What Do the Documents Verify?
- The legitimacy of your identity
- Validity of the information provided
- Criminal history, if any
- Proof of sufficient finances to afford the trip and other associated expenses
- Strong ties with your home country, including social, personal and employment responsibilities, which will compel you to return once your trip is over.
Supporting Documents Required for US Business Visa
The main criterion for a business visa interview is to prove that the purpose of your visit is strictly business. Granting a business visa is strongly dependent on the discretion of the consular officer. So, unless you are able to convince them that you are visiting the country to further your business or gain business knowledge, your application might be rejected. You also need to satisfy them that the nature of your visit is temporary and that you do not intend to move your business or your residence to the US.
To strengthen your case, bring the following to the visa interview:
- If you are being sponsored by your company, you need to furnish the consulate with a letter from your employer requesting for your visa. It must include information such as the length of the trip and that the employer is ready to bear all expenses of the trip, including food, stay and medical facilities.
- If you are the owner of a business, bring documents like bank statements of your business account, business tax returns, etc., to prove that you are eligible to fund your own trip.
- Bring your business card, if any.
- In case you need to attend a professional, educational or commercial meeting, bring any letter of invitation, brochure or any printed/online material on the event.
Supporting Documents for US Visa for Visiting Family
If you are planning on a US trip to meet with family or attend a family event, bring along:
- Invitation letter from the family
- Proof of the event, including invitation card, brochures, etc.
Supporting Documents for Medical Treatment in USA
If you’ve applied for a visa in order to seek medical care in the US, bring:
- Letters from both your local physician and a US medical professional with information about:
- The nature and diagnosis of your ailment
- Reason for seeking treatment in the US and not in your home country
- Doctor’s recommendation regarding the need for treatment in the US, its estimated duration and cost.
- Evidence that you have an appointment with a licensed medical institution in the US.
- All documents containing details of how the treatment, living and travel costs will be met. This can include your own bank statements or that of your sponsor.
What Questions are Asked for US Business Visa Interview
- What is the purpose of your visit to the US?
- Can you show any relevant documents, for example, invitation letter, event brochure, etc., for the business meeting?
- What is your business all about?
- Why can’t it be conducted online?
- What is your annual income in Indian currency?
- What will be the duration of your stay in the US?
- Have you visited the US or any other country before?
What are the Questions Asked for US Visit Visa Interview
Well, you can imagine what the officer is trying to do at the interview. His/her job is to figure out whether or not the person in front of him is qualified enough for the visa, understands the processes and law and will or not respect it by returning to his/her home country when the visit is over. So, there are no template questions, but you can imagine what questions might get asked.
Some of the commonly asked questions for US visa interview are below.
- Why do you want to go to the US?
- Have you been to the US before?
- Which places are you planning to visit?
- Can you stay for a shorter period of time?
- What is your annual income?
- How can you assure us that you will come back home?
- Do you have relatives in the US?
- Where do you plan to stay?
Of course, these are only suggestions and it all depends on the case as to how many and what questions get asked.
Questions Asked for US Medical Visa Interview
Here are some of the commonly asked questions for US medical visa.
- What is your medical diagnosis?
- Can it be treated in your country?
- What is the approximate cost of treatment?
- Can you provide us any letters or past medical records indicating the disease?
For all questions asked during the visa interview, it is best to be honest and confident in your response, without appearing overconfident or arrogant.
If you are related to a B1 visa holder in any way, either a spouse or offspring and are applying for a dependent B2 visa, bring the following supporting documents:
- Copy of visa and passport of the B1 visa holder
- Invitation letter from the B1 visa holder
- Expense and stay arrangements made by the sponsor of the trip or the B1 visa holder
- Letter to the consulate requesting for a visa for the dependent spouse and/or children
Lastly, remember to plan your travel well in advance. Frequent visits can raise suspicion. Also, you will need clear plans to show at the visa interview.
How Long Can You Stay in the US with a Visitor Visa?
You can stay in the USA for a maximum of six months. But when you land at the port of entry, the immigration officer will ask you questions about your visit and grant you a time frame of stay. You have to adhere to this time frame and exit the country on or before the last date of stay.
Can I work in USA with Visit Visa?
No, according to US laws, you are not supposed to work or get paid during your stay in the US on a visit visa. To work in the USA, you need a work visa (H1B or L1/L2 visas for example).
How Much is US Visit Visa Fees?
At the time of writing this article (August 2019), US visit visa fees to be paid is $160. This fees can be paid online or at your nearest bank after the application has been submitted.
How to Book US Visit Visa Appointment?
US Visit Visa appointment can be booked online through the official application website, after paying the visa fees. There are two appointments you gotta make. One is the biometrics, where you have to submit your biometric data and fingerprints. The second appointment is the actual interview, where an officer asks you questions in order to decide whether or not you’re eligible for visiting the USA.
All the best!