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Visitor's Visas for the United States

Deciding What Visitor Visa You Need

If you wish to enter the United States for a time but do not wish to immigrate it is necessary to apply for a visitor visa. These visas come in two forms: a business visitor visa or a tourism visitor visa which is also known as a pleasure, tourism or medical tourism visitor visa. The process for applying for either of these visas is very similar.

Business Visitor Visas

There are a variety of reasons to visit the United States on business and in order to do so you need to obtain a B-1 visa.

Reasons to visit on business include:

  • To consult with business associates,
  • To attend a convention,
  • To attend to the execution of an estate,
  • Or to negotiate a business deal.

It is important to note that no United States company may either pay you salary or otherwise compensate you for the duration of the trip. Becoming employed in the United States with a visitor visa is prohibited and will make it much harder to get visas in the future.

Tourism and Medical Tourism Visas

If the purpose of your stay is to visit family, vacation, sight-see or otherwise socialize in the United States you should apply for a tourist visitor visa (B-2). You can also apply for a tourist visitor visa if you are coming to the United States to receive medical treatment. However, the required documentation is a little different.

Students, journalists, temporary workers and the like must apply for a different non-immigrant visa status if they are studying or on the job.

Do I Qualify for a Visitor Visa?


The United States government, as a matter of policy, looks at all applicants to a non-immigrant visa as people potentially trying to immigrate, so in order to get a visitor visa you will have to assure the government that you will only be visiting temporarily and not staying permanently.

If you choose to self-sponsor you will have to:

  • Show that you are entering the country for tourism, business or medical treatment and that you will not be staying permanently.
  • Have evidence that you have enough money to cover your expenses while in the United States.
  • Demonstrate that your home is in another country and that you intend to return there when your visit is complete.

Proving that you intend to depart the United States is very important. If you can’t fully support yourself (self-sponsor) while in the country you have to show that someone else will be able to help you out financially.

Sponsor Documents:

The following list is of the documents that your sponsor must send you in order to get a visitor visa.

  • An affidavit of support form (also known as form I-134),
  • A letter from the sponsor's employer,
  • Three or four pay stubs,
  • A letter from the sponsor's bank verifying funds,
  • The past six month's bank statements,
  • A letter to the consulate that says that the sponsor is taking financial responsibility of the visitor,
  • A written invitation from the sponsor to the visitor,
  • Copies of the previous 3 years of tax returns and W-2s,
  • Proof of the sponsor's citizenship or,
  • The sponsor's original birth certificate,
  • Photocopy of the sponsor's entire current and all older passports,
  • And proof of legal status,

If your sponsor happens to be related by marriage (in-laws for example) they will also have to provide a marriage certificate.

Medical Tourism:

If you happen to be visiting the United States for medical treatment, further documentation will be required of you. You will need your local doctor to provide a written diagnosis and reasoning for why the treatment must take place in the United States. A doctor in the United States needs to state that he or she will treat the condition and estimate the duration of time the treatment will take. They will also have to include the estimated cost of the procedure. Additionally, you will have to prove that the financial means needed for the treatment are secured. This last part is particularly important because medical costs in the United States can become quite expensive.

Visitor Visa Application Process

Visitor Visa Required Documents

When applying for a visitor visa there are three documents that have to be submitted to the embassy or consular office. The first of which is the DS-160. This form is to be filled out and submitted online. It is very important to retain the bar-code receipt that you get upon completion of the DS-160. You must have that document for the visitor visa interview.

Of course, you will also need your passport and it has to be valid for at least six months past the end of your intended stay.

Additionally, you will need to include a two by two photo to be included in the DS-160 form. If you tell a local photographer that the photo is for a visitor visa they will know how the photo should be taken.

Application and Issuance Fees

Before your interview it is necessary to pay the $160 application processing fee for both B-1 and B-2 visitor visas. Then, upon issuance of your visa, you may have to pay another fee called the visa issuance reciprocity fee. This fee is based upon a number of factors including the country of your origin.

The Visa Interview

After you have gathered your documents, filled out the application and paid the fees it is time to schedule your interview. It is necessary for you to make sure that you do this quite a bit in advance because the consulates and embassies are likely to be busy. Scheduling well in advance of your trip will guarantee your timely arrival.

You Are on Your Way to the USA!

It should be pointed out that the visitor visa is no assurance of entry into the United States. Just like any other visa in any other country it is only a document stating that you can show up to a terminal of entry to the United States. However, if you follow the appropriate steps your trip will be a success.

The United States is a very large and diverse country both in geography and in culture. It is the home to the largest fresh water lakes in the world, vast deserts of impressive beauty, sprawling cityscapes, lush and ancient forests not to mention hubs of American culture. It is a beautiful place to visit any time of the year. Getting your visitor visa is the first step to a wonderful experience in the melting pot of the world!