The B-2 visa is for short-term visitors to the United States. The B-2 can be used for the following purposes:
- Medical appointments at with U.S. doctors
- Visiting friends and family
- Amateur performances
- Participation in social events
- Dependents of US Armed Forces members assigned for duty in the United States
- Short courses of study where an F, J, or M visa is not needed
You must demonstrate the following in order to be eligible to obtain a B-2 visa:
- The purpose of your trip is to enter the United States for a legitimate reason
- You plan to remain for a specific limited period of time
- You have the funds to cover the expenses of the trip and your stay in the United States
- You have a residence outside the United States in which you have no intention of abandoning, as well as other binding ties which will ensure your return abroad at the end of the visit
- You are otherwise admissible to the United States
The B-2 visa allows for entry into the US for up to six months. Once inside the U.S. it is possible to extend the validity of the B-2 status up to one year.
Visa Waiver Program
Citizens of 38 countries can enter the United States for personal purposes without a B-2 visa. In order to enter the United States without a visa, these citizens must file with the ESTA program online.
ESTA is an automated system that determines the eligibility of visitors to travel to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). Authorization via ESTA does not determine whether a traveler is admissible to the United States. U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers determine admissibility upon travelers’ arrival. The ESTA application collects biographic information and answers to VWP eligibility questions. ESTA applications may be submitted at any time prior to travel, though it is recommended that travelers apply as soon as they begin preparing travel plans or prior to purchasing airline tickets.
There is a $10 fee to complete the ESTA application.