B-2 VISITOR VISA & EXTENSIONS
Generally, a Foreign Nation who wishes to come to the USA must first obtain a visa. There are 2 types of common visitor visas: a non-immigrant visa for those who wish to enter the country on a temporary basis, or an immigrant visa for those coming to the USA for obtaining permanent residency. A visa allows a foreign national to travel to a port-of-entry in the USA, requesting permission of a US immigration inspector to enter the USA.
The ‘visitor visa’ is a non-immigrant visa for foreign nationals who wish to enter the USA temporarily for reasons that concern Business (B-1); Pleasure or Medical Treatment (B-2); or a combination of both (B-1/B-2).
What is a B-2 Visa?
The visitor visa is a non-immigrant visa for individuals desiring to enter the USA on a temporary basis for pleasure or medical treatment (B-2 Visa). The B-2 visa is also known as the ‘Tourist Visa.’ Foreign nationals who wish to enter the USA for recreation and pleasure or medical treatment often use the tourist visa.
The B-2 may also be used to enter the USA for certain types of study. Usually, student visas are only given to students attending full time academic or vocational programs at a USCIS approved institution. However, if one is traveling to the USA, primarily for tourism, but while in the USA, they want to take a short course of study that is recreational and not for credit towards a degree, and the course is less than 18 hours per week, then such is allowed with a B2 visa.
While it is possible for individuals to use a B2 visa for participating in certain types of recreational or part time study, students should always check with the school or program they wish to attend and with the US consular officer in their home country to determine if they are definitely able to use a tourist visa for their specific school or program.
NOTE: Individuals planning to travel to the USA for a different reason such as students, temporary workers, crewmen, journalists, etc. must apply for a different type of visa that is appropriate for the specific category. If an individual is planning to come to the USA for a course of study that is 18 hours or more per week and credited towards a degree, then the individual will need a student F-1 visa.
Who would need the B-2 visa?
Filing a B-2 Extension or Change of Status in the USA?
When you enter the USA with a B-2 visa, you should receive an I-94 form at the port of entry from a US Customs and Border protection (CBP) officer. The I-94 gets placed in your passport and indicated your arrival date and location of port of entry into the USA. It will also include the date for when you are to deprt the USA. Visitiing the USA on a B-1 visitor visa will generally allow for admission on the I-94 record for up to 6-months, with extensions of up to an additional 6-months.
To qualify for a B-2 Extension or Change of Status?
The applicant must establish that he/she is requesting the extension or change of status for a justified reason. If the applicant is a tourist, then the reason may include a description of the places he/she will visit and the activities that are planned, as a reason for the additional period of authorized stay. The process can take as long as 6-months before USCIS, which means that in some cases the application will be approved after the applicant departs the USA. Nonetheless, it is very important to file for an extension request, before the initial I-94 record expires, in order to preserve your ability to travel to the USA in the future.
NOTE: The I-94 record/card controls how long you may remain in the USA and the terms and conditions under which you may remain. If you have a lost, stolen, damaged or destroyed I-94 card, you may file for a replacement card with USCIS for a fee.
NOTE: The process of applying for a B2 visa involves careful preparation, and the need for an experienced legal staff at the Law office of Brian T. O’Neill, is essential to provide an error free application the first time. The process becomes extremely difficult, if not impossible at the US Consulate, to successfully obtain a B-2 visitor visa if you have previously been denied a visa. ANY errors on the B-2 application process can permanently prevent you for eligibility to visit the USA to pursue a valid visa.
Call the Law office of Brian T. O’Neill at 617-722-4000 or contact us online. We will gladly answer your questions or schedule a consultation.