B-2 Tourist visas are granted to individuals traveling temporarily to the United States for non-business purposes. These purposes include tourism, visiting friends or family, medical treatment, amateur (unpaid) participation in musical or sports events or other types of contests, and getting engaged or meeting the family of a fiancé(e).
Foreign nationals must apply for B-2 visas at a U.S. consulate abroad. Applicants must demonstrate to the U.S. consular officer that they have a residence outside the U.S. that they do not intend to abandon. In addition, applicants must show that they have a valid non-business reason for wanting to enter the U.S., that they will be able to support themselves financially while in the U.S., that they intend to enter the U.S. for a specific and limited duration, and that they have compelling social and economic ties abroad (such as employment, family, residence) that will ensure their return to their home country.
If the purpose of the visit is to receive medical care in the United States, the visa applicant must also provide documentation regarding the medical condition and treatment plan in the form of a medical diagnosis from a local physician, explaining the nature of the ailment and the reason the applicant requires treatment in the United States; a letter from a physician or medical facility in the United States, confirming that the foreign national will be a patient, the proposed medical treatment, the anticipated length of treatment, and all projected medical expenses; and financial records showing the foreign national’s ability to pay for medical and living expenses while in the U.S. or proof that another individual or organization has committed to pay for those expenses.
Once issued, the B-2 visa allows its holder to enter the U.S. for short-term non-business travel, usually for 3 to 6 months at a time. It is important to note that although the maximum duration of a B-1/B-2 visa is 10 years (although shorter durations are given to nationals of certain countries), in practice the initial period of authorized stay does not usually exceed 6 months. Once in the U.S., B-2 visa holders may apply for an extension of stay or a change of status to another visa category as long as that application is filed before the expiration of the initial period of authorized stay.
Although most visitors must apply for a B-2 visa at a U.S. Consulate, foreign nationals of 36 countries may enter the U.S. for up to 90 days in tourist visitor status without a visa under the U.S. government’s Visa Waiver Program (VWP). For more information, please visit our Visa Waivers page.