Visa Alphabet Soup

Generally, there are two categories of visas available for people who wish to come to the U.S. The first is called an immigrant visa. A person is issued this kind of visa when they get permission from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) to reside in the U.S. An example of this kind of visa is what people call the "green card." The other category is for people who get permission from the USCIS to come temporarily to the U.S. to visit or work with the intention of returning to their home country. This is called a non-immigrant visa. An example of this kind of visa is commonly called a tourist or visitor visa.

B-2 "Visitor" Visa

A B-2 visitor is defined by the U.S. immigration law as an alien having a residence in a foreign country which he has no intention of abandoning and who is visiting the United States temporarily for pleasure. There are several other non-immigrant visas available for visitors coming to the U.S. that seem like the USCIS version of alphabet soup. For example, there are classifications of non-immigrant visas for the purpose of temporary study (F-1) or of performing skilled or unskilled labor (L-1) or as a representative of foreign press, radio, film, or other foreign information media coming to engage in such vocation (I) and for those coming to temporarily engage in business (B-1). There are diplomatic visas (A or G visas), fiancée visas (K-1), visas for atheletes, musicians or other entertainers (O and P visas), and those for doing religious work in the U.S. (R). Each class of visa has qualifications and requirements that must be satisified prior to issuance and can be obtained with varying degrees of difficulty.

Let's go back to the B-2 visa example and you can see some of the discretionary details a consular officer has to consider prior to issuing this type of visa. The term "pleasure'' has been defined by the Department of State as "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." Participation in conferences with fraternal, social, or service organizations would also be considered a proper B-2 activity. Visitors for pleasure may not engage in compensated employment.

B-2 Visa Requirements

In order to qualify for B-2 status, the following requirements must be satisfied:

A. The alien has a foreign residence that he or she has no intention of abandoning;

B. The alien is entering the United States for a temporary visit;

C. The alien's purpose of the visit is for pleasure; and

D. The alien has sufficient funds to support himself or herself without resorting to unauthorized employment

Documenting Your Temporary Intentions

The documentation submitted in a B-2 application should demonstrate the temporary nature of the trip, an intention to return to an unabandoned foreign residence and financial ability to support oneself during the period of stay requested. This may include ownership or lease documents for the alien's residence in the home country; evidence of work, studies, or activities to be resumed upon the alien's return to the home country; evidence of family members left behind in the home country; a round-trip ticket; a letter from friends, relatives or others in the United States inviting the alien and detailing the length and purpose of the stay; and bank records or other documents, showing money on hand that demonstrates the alien's ability to afford the trip.

At the LAW OFFICES OF EVAN D. FRANKEL, P.A., we assist individuals in successfully demystifying the process of applying for a non-immigrant visa to the U.S. We can help you understand an often complicated decision-making process. Call us at 1-800-394-3826. Know your rights.

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