Monday, May 21, 2007

Tourist Visa

The “tourist visa” is the most commonly used and abused visa and, for that reason, the Citizenship and Immigration Services Bureau (“USCIS”) and U.S. Department of State have adopted regulation to make it harder to obtain it. The “B-2" or “Visitor for Pleasure” visa is issued by government consular offices at the intending visitor’s country of origin.

“Visitor for Pleasure” is broadly defined as any non-work related trip and has been specifically defined by the regulations to allow trips to visit relatives or to obtain medical treatment. Reasons referring to “Pleasure” can be defined by tourism, sight seeing, amusement, rest, visits with friends, and/or relatives. This does not refer to reasons of work, study, business activities or representative of foreign press or film.

Visas are issued for a period of up to six months. There is a procedure to extend a B-2 visa once a person is in the United States, however, extensions are rarely granted and noone can stay in the U.S. as a “tourist” for more than 12 months.

The Department of State must believe that the intending visitor: 1) Plans to leave US at the end of their stay; 2) Can return to their country of origin; 3) Has sufficient money to support their trip to and from the US. If the consular officer is not certain that the applicant meets any of these requirements, then the visa request will be denied. The process begins with the filing of an original DS-156 Non-immigrant Visa Application Form. Afterwards, the intending visitor may be interviewed at an embassy by an official from the Department of States. Females are rarely interviewed. Males between the ages 16 of 45 must complete Supplement DS-157 Form and undergo brief interview with a consular office. Males or Females 16 and over from North Korea, Cuba, Syria, Sudan, Iran, and Libya must also complete a the supplemental form (DS-157). If the Department of State approves the petition, then USCIS grants the visa.

A person who enters the U.S. with a B-2 Visa cannot work and is generally forbidden from obtaining a different visa. For example, if a person comes a tourist with the intention of becoming a student, he or she has to express their interest before obtaining a visa. Also, persons intending to marry in the U.S. have to comply with other requirements.

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