The first step in applying for a B-2 visa is contacting the U.S. consular post in your home country, or the foreign country you are now present in and scheduling an appointment. In advance of the appointment, an applicant will be asked to complete a visa application, Form DS-160. No prior approval from U.S. Department of Homeland Security/Citizenship and Immigration Services in the U.S. required for a B-2 visa application to be considered or approved by a U.S. consular official abroad.
If issued, a B-2 visa may be valid for one entry into the U.S. or for multiple entries. In terms of length of time a B-2 visa holder will be allowed to enter the U.S., a U.S. Customs and Border Protection official will make that determination at the port of entry in question. Most often an infrequent visitor to the U.S. will be given a 6 month period of stay, although it is up to the CBP inspector to make the exact determination. Moreover, if the inspecting official takes notice of a B-2 visa holder’s all too frequent and/or lengthy visits to the U.S., the visa holder may find themselves held up at the port of entry, forced to withdraw their application for entry or even worse, subjected to expedited removal.
B-2 visa holders seeking to enter the U.S. for many months at a time and more than one or two times a year, may be suspected of violating the terms of their visa for example by abandoning their foreign residence, or engaging in unauthorized employment. In these circumstances the visa holder will most likely face extensive questioning from a CBP inspector at entry regarding the reasons for such frequent or extended stays in the U.S. Absent an explanation that satisfies the inspector the entries comport with B-2 visa guidelines, the visa holder will likely face a significant negative consequence – see above.
Once in the U.S., a B-2 visa holder may have the option of extending their stay via Form I-539, but only if a compelling reason is offered and thorough documentation reflecting the visa holder’s intent to return to their home country is presented.
Importantly, foreign nationals from one of 38 countries may be eligible to enter the U.S. for a visit without visa. Those from ESTA countries, are eligible to be granted 3 months entry into the U.S. but subject to the same restrictions outlined above and without the ability to extend their stay.
For detailed feedback on B-2 visa applications including the most common reasons visas are granted or denied, contact an experienced lawyer, such as Richard Hanus of the Law Offices of Richard Hanus. That way, applicants will not be walking into an unknown process and with a mysterious set of requirements and rules.