Experience America: How to Apply for a B2 Visa?

The B2 Visa is a temporary, multiple-entry visa intended for tourism, vacations, or visiting friends or family. If you live in the US and want friends or family members to visit you regularly, helping them get a B2 visa or visitor visa can make traveling to the US easier. Some people may also use the B2 visa to travel to the US for medical purposes. Read on to learn about the requirements for a B2 visa. 

What Is a B-2 Visa?

B-2 visas are meant for temporary visits. It’s a type of visitor visa or tourist visa that allows citizens of foreign countries to visit the US temporarily. While B1 visas are for business purposes, B2 visas are for recreational or leisure purposes like tourism. A B2 visa is for citizens of countries that aren’t part of the US visa waiver program ESTA. 

What Are You Allowed and Not Allowed to Do in the United States with a B-2 Visa?

When visiting the United States with a B2 visa, you may participate in non-paid, recreational, or amateur social or sporting events. You may also attend courses that are not for credit toward a college degree. However, you are not allowed to work or engage in employment in the US on a B2 visa. 

Common reasons to apply for the B2 visa are:

  • Vacations or holidays
  • Visiting friends or relatives
  • Medical treatment
  • Participation in events such as those organized by fraternal, social, or service organizations
  • Participation in amateur (unpaid) events or contests, such as music or sporting events
  • Attending short recreational courses not for credit toward a degree (such as cooking classes or sports training)

What Is the Difference Between B-1 and B-2 Visas?

The B visa is a visa category for temporary visits to the US. A B1 visa is for short-term or temporary work-related visits to the US, such as business conferences, consultations, setting up a new business, negotiating contracts, processional examinations, obtaining business licenses, setting up an estate, or visiting as a foreign partner of an LLC.

In contrast, a B2 visa is for leisure, non-lucrative activities like tourism, vacationing, or visiting family or friends. You can also get a B1/B2 visa together, allowing you to travel to the US for both business and leisure purposes. See more on US visas and immigration FAQs or visa options for international startup founders

What Are the Requirements for a B-2 Visa?

To apply for the B-2 visa, you will need:

  • A passport valid for travel to the United States. The passport must be valid for at least six months beyond your planned stay in the US.
  • The confirmation form you receive after completing the nonimmigrant visa application, Form DS-160.
  • Application fee payment receipt.
  • The photo that you uploaded while completing the online Form DS-160. If the upload failed, you may bring one printed photo in the required format.

You may be asked to provide additional documentation, such as:

  • The purpose of your trip or reason for the application.
  • Your intent to depart the United States after your trip or reason you have to return to your home country. 
  • Proof of the need to return to your home country can include family, business, employment, etc. 
  • Your ability to pay all costs of the trip.

Regarding proof of your ability to pay for the trip, there is no minimum balance you must show in your bank account. However, some experts recommend having between $5,000 to $10,000 to secure the visa. If you do not have sufficient funds, you can also show proof that someone else will pay for your trip. 

How Much Does It Cost to Apply for a B-2 Visa?

It costs $185 for the B2 visa application. In addition to this, you will need sufficient funds in your account to pay for the trip and your time in the USA. 

How to Apply for a B-2 Visa in 5 Steps

To apply for a B2 visa, you’ll need to complete the following steps:

  1. Complete the online nonimmigrant visa application form.
  2. Upload a photo while completing the online visa application.
  3. Schedule an interview at the US Consulate or Embassy in your country. This is usually only required for applicants between the ages of 14 and 79. 
  4. Pay the visa application fee.
  5. Prepare the required documents for the visa interview (see above). 

What Happens if a B-2 Visa Application Is Denied?

If your B2 visa application is denied, it is usually because of an incomplete application or insufficient supporting documentation. After understanding the reason the visa was denied, you can prepare to apply again, ensuring that you address the reason for the denial (or provide the missing information).  

Getting a B2 Visa

A B2 visa allows you to comfortably travel to the US when needed. A B1/B2 visa, which is commonly offered, expands the activities you can do while temporarily in the US to include both business and leisure activities. 

If you’re in the US for business, you might need bookkeeping services, especially if you plan to expand your business to the US. Get Doola Books to track your business finances easily and focus on expanding your business in the country. 


Can I work in the United States with a B2 visa?

No, you cannot work in the US with a B2 visa. If you have a B1/B2 visa, you can travel to the US temporarily for work-related reasons. 

How long can I stay in the United States on a B2 visa?

You can stay in the US for up to six months with a B2 visa. You may be able to extend for another six months, depending on your situation. 

Can I extend my stay in the United States on a B2 visa?

Yes, in some cases, you can extend your stay in the US on a B2 visa. 

Can I travel outside of the United States while on a B2 visa?

Yes, you can travel outside of the US with a B2 visa. This type of visa is multiple-entry, allowing you to re-enter the US more than once. However, you should not travel outside the US while an extension or status change is pending with USCIS.

Are there any restrictions on the activities I can engage in while on a B2 visa?

With a B2 visa, you can only engage in tourism and leisure activities, participate in social and amateur events, or travel to the US for temporary medical purposes. That means you cannot work, engage in formal employment, or earn remuneration. You also cannot study for a degree or credit, or enroll in a school or university while in the US on a B2 visa.

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