What is the B-2 Tourist Visa? Who qualifies for a B-2 Tourist Visa? Can I work or study with a B-2 Tourist Visa? Do I need a lawyer to apply for a B-2 Tourist Visa?

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mpewny. Pexels

What is the B-2 Tourist Visa? Who qualifies for a B-2 Tourist Visa? Can I work or study with a B-2 Tourist Visa? Do I need a lawyer to apply for a B-2 Tourist Visa?

A B-2 Tourist Visa is a temporary visa granted to individuals who are planning to come to the United States to participate in recreation (tourism, visiting friends or relatives, rest); medical treatment; activities of a fraternal, social, or service nature; or unpaid amateurs participating in musical, sports and similar events or contests. Click here for our blog post on the B-1 Business Visitor Visa.
Applicants for visitor visas must show through documentary evidence:

  • That the purpose of their trip is to enter the United States temporarily for business or pleasure;
  • That they plan to remain for a specific, limited period;
  • Evidence of funds to cover expenses in the United States;
  • That they have a residence outside the United States as well as other binding ties that will ensure their departure from the United States at the end of the visit. 

Do I need a visa?
Travelers coming to the United States for tourism or business (B-1 or B-2 category visa) purposes for 90 days or less from qualified countries may be eligible to travel without a visa if they meet the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) requirements.
Can I work with a B-2 Visa?
No. The B-2 visa is not a work visa. It is appropriate for the following:

  • Tourism or Family Visits: Individuals traveling to the United States for purposes of tourism or to make social visits to relative or friends.
  • Medical Reasons: Those coming to the United States for health purposes (e.g. medical treatment).
  • Participation in Social Events: Those participating in conventions, conferences, or convocation of fraternal, social, or service organizations.
  • Armed Forces Dependents: Dependents of a foreign member of any branch of the U.S. Armed Forces temporarily assigned for duty in the United States.
  • Dependents of Crewmen: Foreign dependents of category “D” visa crewmen who are coming to the United States solely to accompany the crewman.
  • Short Course of Study: The following annotation is to be placed in the 88-character field of the visa for foreign visitors coming to the United States primarily for tourism, who also incidentally will engage in a short course of study during their visit:  STUDY INCIDENTAL TO VISIT—Form I-20 NOT REQUIRED.
  • Amateur Entertainers and Athletes: An amateur (or group of amateurs) who will not be paid for performances and will perform in a social and/or charitable context or as a competitor in a talent show, contest, or athletic event. 

Can I study with a B-2 Visa?
No. You cannot study on a B-2 Visa. You must first change your status to F-1 or M-1 before you can enroll in a course of study. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services recently issued Special Instructions for B-1/B-2 Visitors Who Want to Enroll in School, which provides additional guidance on this question. Essentially, if a B-2 visa holder enrolls in school before they change status to F-1 or M-1, they will have violated their status.
Do I need a lawyer to apply for a visa?
Not necessarily. Many people successfully apply for their visas. However, many applicants are also denied. This is a result of many factors, including the quality of information provided to the U.S. consulate or USCIS. If you have a previous denial, previous contact with law enforcement or immigration, and other concerns, we recommend seeking the advice of an experienced attorney who can assist you in the application process.

Rasoulpour Torregoza is the law firm for immigrants, by immigrants. We are founded on the motto of LegalEase: we do away with the legal jargon and make law easy to understand, so you can focus on what’s important to you – going for your American Dream.
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