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?

  mpewny.  Pexels

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.


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