B-2 Visa

B-2 Visa – Temporary Visitor for Pleasure

Purpose of the B-2 Visa Classification

  • The B-2 visa classification allows foreign visitors to enter the United States temporarily for visits for pleasure, which refers to legitimate activities of a recreational character.


  • The B-2 visa is simple and quick to obtain.


  • B-2 visa visitors may not engage in employment in the United States.


  • Spouses and children under 21 may also receive B-2 visa status.

Points of Interest

  • Beginning June 26, 2005, travelers applying for admission under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) must be in possession of a machine-readable passport.
  • All VWP countries must also produce passports with digital photography by October 26, 2005.


1. Definition of B-2 Visitor Visa

The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) and immigration regulations define a B-2 Visa Visitor for Pleasure as someone:

  • With a residence in a foreign country that he or she has no intention of abandoning;
  • Who is coming temporarily to the United States;
  • For pleasure.
  • A B-2 Visa Visitor may not engage in ANY employment.


2. General Permissible B-2 Visa Activities

B-2 Visa Visitors may come to the U.S. temporarily to engage in 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.

Specific Activities Eligible for B-2 Visa Category


Impermissible B-2 Visa Activities

B-2 Visa Visitors may not engage in any of the following activities:

  • B-2 Visa Visitors may not engage in any employment.
  • B-2 Visa Visitors may not enroll in a full course of study.


3. Procedure for B-2 Visa for Visitors for Pleasure

Step One: Application at U.S. Consulate.

Step Two: Inspection at U.S. Port of Entry.


4. Step One: Application at U.S. Consulate

Basic application package for a nonimmigrant visa:

Form DS-160, Nonimmigrant Visa Application;

  • A valid, unexpired passport;
  • Passport-type photograph; and
  • Application fee, if any.

Additionally, B-2 visa applicants must satisfy the consular officer that:

  • They intend to leave the United States at the end of the temporary stay;
  • They have permission to enter a foreign country at the end of the temporary stay; and
  • They have made adequate financial arrangements to carry out the purpose of the visit and to depart from the United States afterwards.


Canadians enjoy special documentary waivers and do not require a visa for entry as a B-2 Visa Visitor.

Canadians need a passport only if coming from outside the Western Hemisphere.

Visa Waiver Program.

Citizens of the following countries: Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium Brunei, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Monaco, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom may travel visa free under the Visa Waiver Program.

For nationals of visa waiver countries, there is no need to obtain a visa at the U.S. consulate in their home country before coming to the U.S. as a business visitor.

Travelers from the 27 designated Visa Waiver Countries are permitted to enter the U.S. for up to 90 days for business or pleasure using only a passport.

Approximately 13 million visitors from Visa Waiver Countries enter the U.S. each year.

Beginning June 26, 2005, officers from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Bureau of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will begin enforcing requirements that travelers applying for admission under the (VWP) must be in possession of a machine-readable passport. VWP travelers arriving in the United States on that date without a machine-readable passport should not anticipate being granted one-time entry into the country.


5. Step Two: Application at U.S. Port-of-Entry

Admission of B-2 Visa Visitor.

If the B-2 visa is granted, or if the visitor for pleasure is visa exempt, the B-2 Visa Visitor may then be admitted to the United States by an immigration officer at a U.S. port of entry.

While Canadians do not require a visa, they must bring appropriate proof of Canadian citizenship.

Mexicans must present valid entry documents such as a passport and visa or Mexican Border Crossing Card (Form I-186 or I-586).

Once admitted, a B-2 Visa Visitor may be issued an I-94, other times he or she may be simply allowed to enter the United States.

Duration of B-2 Visa Status.

  • B-2 Visa Visitors are admitted for a minimum period of six months.
  • A B-2 Visa visitor may be approved for up to one year.

Extension of B-2 Visa status.

  • Extensions of B-2 visa status may be granted in increments of six months, and may be obtained through a CIS Service Center without leaving the U.S.


6. Helpful Advice for B-2 Visa Visitors

While it is not permissible to enroll in a full course of study, B-2 Visa Visitors may engage in a short course of study incidental to their visit.

The B-2 Visitor Visa is also a useful visa for foreign fiancées and spouses. For more information see Specific Activities Eligible for B-2 Visa Category.


7. Unlawful Presence Alert for Canadian Citizens

SRW has learned that the Toronto PFI (Pearson) port of entry is charging Canadian nationals with unlawful presence provisions even if an I-94 with a set expiration date was not previously provided.

Under section 212(a)(9)(B) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, noncitizens who were unlawfully present in the U.S. for more than 180 days, who departed the U.S. before any removal proceedings were commenced against them, and who then seek admission to the U.S. are inadmissible for a period of three years. Noncitizens who were unlawfully present in the U.S. for one year or more who leave the country and then seek admission to the U.S. are inadmissible for a ten-year period.

CIS guidance reads that Canadians admitted as visitors without being issued an I-94 are not subject to unlawful presence provisions. SRW has learned, however, that Canadians have been charged with a 9B unlawful presence violation if the individual confirms the overstay in a sworn statement and CBP has documentation to determine the date of entry, date of departure and class of admission.

Any Canadian that has previously spent more than six months in the U.S. on any visit should consult with legal counsel before applying for another admission to the U.S.


8. For More Information on B-2 Visas