Tips on Obtaining a Visitor Visa to the United States (B-2)

I had an individual ask me today about obtaining a B-2 tourist visa for his sister to visit him in the United States.  I have come up against these visas several times and they can be very tricky, so I thought a blog post about them might be helpful.  Many of these points can also be helpful for other non-immigrant visa based interviews.

The worst part about these visas is that they must be applied for in the applicant’s home country and a grant of this visa is completely up to the discretion of the interviewing officer.  There is generally a presumption that the applicant is intending to stay in the United States and it is the job of the applicant to show this is not the case.  They must show that their reasons for returning to the home country are greater than reasons for staying in the United States.

Though there is never any guarantee of approval for these types of visas and they are determined on a case by case basis, there are a few things that an applicant can do to increase their chances of rebutting this presumption.  These things include showing country ties through things like:

-Family members still in the home country (not family members in the U.S.)

-Property owned in the home country

-A job to which you will return (it is helpful to explain that you have obtained vacation time)

– Financial prospects that you own or will inherit

-Investments in the home country


Other points to remember in these interviews include:


-The interview is usually conducted in English so the applicant should be prepared to speak in English (though not necessarily prepare a speech).

-If possible, it is best to speak on your own behalf and not to bring family members with you.

-Be short and to the point when you answer questions.  Interviews only last 2-3 minutes, so you have to be able to convince the officer in a very short period of time.

-You can bring documents as long as they are mostly self explanatory.  These could include things like bank statements, property titles, or papers showing a grant of vacation time from a job.

-Be positive in the interview and do not argue with the officer.

-Also remember that these visas may be more difficult for children or elderly individuals to receive because these individuals usually have the hardest time showing ties to the country because they usually do not work and children do not generally own property or have investments.