US Tourist Visa: Do I need a Travel Visa for USA?

US Tourist Visa: Do I need a Travel Visa for USA?

All foreign citizens are required to have a valid permission, travel authorization or a tourist visa to legally enter the United States for short term visits. Most applicants know the visa categories under various names:

A travel visa and visitor visa are in the same category (B2). The business visa (B1) is also a visitor visa, but the purpose of the trip differs from the B2 visa. Not everyone is required to obtain a US tourist visa. Travelers from eligible countries can obtain an ESTA USA instead of a US travel visa.

us tourist visa

Citizens from the 38 Visa Waiver countries can apply for an online ESTA travel authorization: United Kingdom, Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium Brunei, Chile, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein,Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Republic of Korea, San Marino, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and Taiwan. Citizens of countries not included in this list must made a different application for a standart visa to the USA. 

Citizens of countries that are not part of the Visa Waiver are not eligible to apply for an online ESTA. Ineligible ESTA nationals that intend to travel to United States for business or tourism, must present a tourist or business visa application at their nearest United States of America Embassy or Consulate and prepare for an interview.There are two main types of short term visas:

  • B2 Tourist visa, issued to applicants travelling for leisure purposes that range from visiting family or friends, engaging in tourist activities to getting short term medical treatment.
  • B1 Business Visa, issued to applicants travelling for business purposes that include attending conferences or business events.

US Visitor visa Types

There are two types of USA visitor visasfor people who wish to travel to the United States for short term periods of time and cannot obtain the US ESTA.

The B1 visa for USA is a business visitor visa that can be used for the following activities:

  • Consult with business associates
  • Attend a scientific, educational, professional or business convention or conference
  • Settle an estate
  • Negotiate a contract

The B2 visa for USA is a tourism visitor visa that can be used for the following activities:

  • Tourism
  • Vacation
  • Visit friends or family
  • Medical treatment
  • Participation in social events hostel by fraternal, social or service organizations
  • Participation by amateurs in musical, sports, or similar contests or events and does not receive payment for it.
  • Enrollment in a short recreational course of study not for credit toward a degree.

How can I get a tourist visa to USA?

A tourist visa to the USA is in fact a category B visa or a visitor visa. In general, a citizen of a foreign country who wishes to travel to the United States for tourism purposes must obtain a nonimmigrant visa for a temporary stay.

As mentioned previously in this article, citizens of 38 eligible countries can obtain a tourist ESTA instead of applying for a tourist visa USA. A US visitor visa is a nonimmigrant visa for people who wish to visit the US for tourism or business and it must be obtained through a different process than the electronic ESTA.

In order to get a tourist visa to the USA or a B2 visitor visa, the applicant must have a valid passport and should complete the DS-160 form. All people who wish to get a US travel visa will have to get an appointment at their nearest US Embassy or consulate and present the respective documents.

What documents are required to get a tourist visa to the U.S.?

The documents required to get a tourist visa to the U.S. include a valid passport from a country that does not belong to the visa waiver program. Citizens from the visa waiver program can obtain the ESTA to travel to the US for a short-term stay.

The USA tourist visa application requires that each individual presents the following:

  • DS-160 confirmation page
  • The receipt of the paid fee for the US tourist visa application
  • Passport sized photos
  • Copy of appointment letter
  • Current income proof, tax payments, ownership business or property, or assets.
  • Travel itinerary or other additional documents for what you have planned for your trip

In certain cases, an immigration officer might ask for other documentation. For example, if the purpose of the trip is to seek medical treatment, the traveler might have to provide a medical diagnosis from a local doctor explaining the nature of the illness and why it should be treated in the US.
To apply for the tourist visa to the USA the traveler must complete all of the sections on the DS-160 form and follow the guidelines provided by the US embassy.

Visitor Visa: B2 US Travel Visa and B1 Work Visa Requirements

The application process includes making an application, after which you must schedule an interview at the US Embassy or Consulate of the applicant’s country of residence. However, children under the age of 13 and seniors over the age of 80 are generally not required to go through the interview stage.

Note: Unlike the ESTA, the visa waiting and processing time is much longer. We strongly advise to start preparing the required documentation as soon as possible.
Following are the document that all applicants must prepare for their visa interview:

  • A valid passport
  • A nonimmigrant visa application
  • Payment receipt of the application
  • Personal photo

Take note that these are the general documentation requirements. Each applicant might be required to bring additional evidence such as:

  • The purpose of the trip
  • Proof of intent to leave the US, after the reason for your visit
  • Your financial coverage during your stay in the US

After you have gone through the interview, your visa application case may require further administrative processing of details. You will be contacted by a consular officer in such cases.
Once the visa is issued, you will be contacted to go and recollect it.

The visitor visa or tourist visa will be stamped on one of the pages of your passport, which means that one of the requirements is to have at least 2 empty pages within the passport.
Once in the States, a CBP officer will provide you with an admission stamp or the I-94 paper, which represents your official Arrival/Departure record. You may remain in the US within the dates, indicated on this paper and must leave the country before/on the indicated departure date.


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