Generally, a citizen of a foreign country who wishes to enter the United States must first obtain a visa, either a nonimmigrant visa for temporarystay or an immigrant visa for permanent residence. The visitor visa is anonimmigrant visa for persons desiring to enter the United Statestemporarily for business (B-1) or for pleasure or medical treatment (B-2).
The common factors for all visitors are that they are coming to the U.S. temporarily, they have a foreign residence abroad that they have no intention of abandoning and they will not work or study in the U.S. Persons who are coming to the U.S. primarily to benefit an overseas Employer enter as either B-1 or WB nonimmigrants; those persons who are entering for personal reasons enter as B-2 or WT nonimmigrants. 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.
B-1 and B-2 nonimmigrants can be admitted for an initial period of up to six months, which is reflected on the Form I-94. They are allowed to file an extension of stay for up to an additional six-month period or an application to change their status to another nonimmigrant classification or immigrant status if they are so eligible. Travelers from certain eligible countries may also be able to visit the U.S. without a visa, through the Visa Waiver Program. They are not required to apply for a visa at a U.S. Consulate prior to entering the U.S. Only citizens of certain countries are eligible for to enter without a visa under the visa Waiver program. These nonimmigrants cannot extend their stay in the U.S. or change their status to another nonimmigrant or immigrant classification.
Qualifying for a Visa
The presumption in the law is that every visitor visa applicant is an intending immigrant. Therefore, applicants for visitor visas must overcome this presumption by demonstrating that:
- The purpose of their trip is to enter the U.S. for business, pleasure, or medical treatment;
- They plan to remain for a specific, limited period; and
- They have a residence outside the U.S. as well as other binding ties which will insure their return abroad at the end of the visit