Generally, a citizen of a foreign country who wishes to enter the United States must first obtain a visa, either a nonimmigrant visa for temporary stay or an immigrant visa for permanent residence.
The visitor visa is a nonimmigrant visa for persons desiring to enter the United States temporarily for business ( B1 Visa ) or for pleasure or medical treatment (B2 Visa). Persons planning to travel to the U.S. for a different purpose, such as students, temporary workers, crewmen, journalists, etc, must apply for a different visa in the appropriate category.
Travelers from certain eligible countries may also be able to visit the U.S. without a visa, through the Visa Waiver Program.
Qualifying for a Visa
Applicants for visitor visas must show that they qualify under provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act. The presumption in the law is that every visitor visa applicant is an intending immigrant. Therefore, applicants for visitor visas must overcome this presumption by demonstrating that:
- The purpose of their trip is to enter the U.S. for business, pleasure, or medical treatment;
- They plan to remain for a specific, limited period; and
- They have a residence outside the U.S. as well as other binding ties which will insure their return abroad at the end of the visit.