As a country with countless tourist destinations and opportunities for business, the United States is the travel destination of choice for millions of people each year. If you are considering short-term travel to the United States, however, you must first obtain a visitor visa for your trip. Although visitor visas are only valid for a specified period of time, the application process is quite extensive, and many people turn to Los Angeles visitor visa attorneys for guidance along the way.
At Diaz Law Firm, our practice is informed by a belief in equality and an unwavering commitment to justice. Our team has spent years working with individuals from all corners of the globe to secure visitor visas for travel to the United States. When you work with us, you can expect one-on-one, personalized attention and a commitment to excellence that will ensure your success during the process. To learn more about how we can help, consider contacting us at (626) 261-0402 today.
What Are the Types of Visitor Visas Available in the U.S.?
In the United States, visitor visas provide individuals with the opportunity to travel on a short-term basis for the purposes of tourism or business. Visitor visas are temporary, multiple-entry visas that do not allow for permanent immigration into the country. U.S. immigration law has established two different visitor visas, which correspond to the two distinct purposes for travel.
The B-1 Business Visa
Individuals who want to travel to the United States to conduct short-term business require a B-1 business visa. This option does not allow for gainful employment or long-term entrepreneurial pursuits like establishing a business or engaging in significant consultancy work. It does, however, provide for travel to attend a conference or meeting, settle an estate, negotiate a contract, or participate in training, for example.
The B-2 Tourist Visa
This visa covers recreational travel for the purpose of tourism or visiting friends and family. The B-2 visa can also be used to come to the United States for medical treatment, to participate in recreational sports, or to take part in cultural events that you will not receive payment for.
How Can You Be Eligible for a Visitor Visa?
As is true of other visa categories, there are specific eligibility requirements that must be met in order to successfully apply for and obtain a visitor visa in the United States. To qualify for a visitor visa, you must confirm that you:
- Have a legitimate purpose for travel
- Intend to stay in the country for a limited period of time
- Have sufficient funds to support your travel to the country
- Are admissible in the United States
- Have a residence in your country of origin that you have no intention of abandoning
It should also be noted that, under U.S. immigration law, a person is not eligible for a visitor visa if they plan on engaging in any of the following activities:
- Paid performances
- Arrival as a crew member, either by air or sea
- Work in the foreign press
- Living in the U.S. on a permanent basis
As long as you meet the necessary eligibility requirements, you may begin the application process for a visitor visa. Your experienced Los Angeles visitor visa attorney at Diaz Law Firm can review your case and determine whether you qualify to apply for a B-1 or B-2 visa based on the rules and regulations of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services and the Department of State.
How to Apply for a U.S. Visitor Visa
There are several steps that must be followed when applying for a U.S. visitor visa. The order of steps in the application process may vary based on the embassy or consulate at which you apply, so it is recommended that you speak to your Los Angeles visitor visa attorney before proceeding. Generally, when applying for a visitor visa, you can expect the following process:
- Complete the nonimmigrant visa application, Form DS-160. This application is completed online and will require you to submit a suitable photo. Requirements for the photograph are extensive and can be found here.
- Schedule an appointment for your visa interview. The interview will be conducted at the consulate or embassy in your country and wait times for the interview depend largely on location and visa category. You will also be required to pay the application fee of $185. An additional fee may be necessary depending on your nationality. Furthermore, you may be asked for additional documentation regarding your trip to ensure that you qualify for a visitor visa.
- Attend the interview. You will be interviewed by a consular officer who will assess whether or not you qualify for a visa. If your visa is approved, you may begin making arrangements to collect your passport and travel to the United States.
- Enter the United States. It is important to understand that having an approved visa does not necessarily guarantee your entry into the country. Ultimately, officials at the port of entry have the right to deny your entry. Your attorney can provide further insight and how to prepare for your trip to the U.S.
What Is the Processing Time for a Visitor Visa?
It is tough to provide an accurate timeline for the visitor visa application process, as processing times vary greatly depending on your location and the quality of your application. The State Department reports visa appointment wait times by city, which can help provide some information on how long it will take to process your application. Cities with busy consulates and embassies have wait times that can reach over a year, while cities with fewer applicants may have wait times as low as two to three months.
How Long Can Visitors Stay on a Visitor Visa?
Visitors who remain in the U.S. for longer than the granted period of stay can face serious legal consequences. For this reason, it is important to understand the parameters of this visa category. On a visitor visa, a person is allowed to stay in the United States for a maximum of six months. Some visas may be granted for a shorter period of time depending on the reason for travel.
However, it is possible to extend your stay on a visitor visa. The maximum extension that can be granted for a visitor visa is six months. Therefore, the maximum amount of time that a person can stay in the U.S. on a visitor visa is one year, counting both the initial period of stay and an extension of stay. Your Los Angeles visitor visa attorney can provide more detail on whether you may qualify for an extension of stay for your visit to the United States, and how to obtain the extension.
Hiring an Experienced Los Angeles Visitor Visa Attorney
Every year, millions of people travel to the United States for business or recreational travel. While securing a visitor visa may be straightforward for nationals of some countries, the process can become incredibly difficult and time-consuming for others. At Diaz Law Firm, we take pride in our ability to provide high-quality, individualized legal advocacy for our clients. To begin the process of securing a visitor visa for your trip to the United States, consider speaking with our team of Los Angeles visitor visa attorneys at (626) 261-0402 today.