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The B-2 “Visitor for Pleasure” visa, along with its cousin the Visa Waive Program, are the most widely used vehicles for entry into the United States.

The B-2 visitor visa has many specific uses, but more importantly, it also has specific situations where its use is expressly prohibited.

The B-2 visitor visa category can be one of the most complex and difficult to address because the issues and factors involved in the decision are almost entirely subjective. Moreover, the decision of the consul occurs far from the immigration lawyer and is not subject to review or formal appeal. If the reason for the denial is known, applicants may present “better” evidence in subsequent visa applications.

Generally speaking, an individual is allowed a B-2 visa under the Immigration and Nationality Act to temporarily visit the United States for pleasure. The term “pleasure” refers to “legitimate activities of a recreational character, including tourism, amusement, visits with friends or relatives, rest, medical treatment, and activities of a fraternal, social, or service nature. By statute, a B-2 visitor is expressly precluded from coming for the purpose of study (with a few well-defined exceptions) or performing skilled or unskilled labor, or as a representative of foreign press, radio, film, or other foreign information media coming to engage in such vocation.

B-2 visitors to the United States generally may be admitted for not more than one year and may be granted extensions of stay in six-month increments. So long as their passports are sufficiently valid, admissible B-2 visitors should be admitted for a minimum of six months, regardless of whether less time is required; exceptions may only be made for “good cause.”

What would the US Consul consider in determining B-2 visa eligibility?

The applicant must maintain an unabandoned foreign residence; he or she must intend to enter the United States for a period of specifically limited duration, and the applicant must be seeking admission for the sole purpose of engaging in legitimate activities relating to pleasure; the applicant must have adequate funds to avoid unlawful employment and to complete the purposes of the proposed visit, etc.

The criteria listed above are intended only as guidelines, and meeting them is not to be considered conclusive of the applicant’s intent. Denial of the visa “is required by law” where the consular officer is not satisfied with the applicant’s intent to return or abide by the terms of nonimmigrant status.

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