B-2 Tourist Visitor Visa
Tourism travelers may enter the United States using a B-2 Tourist Visitor Visa. Typically these visas are issued as joint B-1 Business Visitor Visa and B-2 Tourist Visa. This practice means that, if a foreign national has an old B-1/B-2 visa originally issued for business purposes, it may be valid for a planned tourism trip as well.
Some foreign nationals do not require a B-2 Tourist Visa to enter the United States for tourism purposes. The Visa Waiver Program (VWP) permits citizens of certain countries to travel to the United States for tourism for stays of up to 90 days without a visa. Those foreign nationals must apply online using ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization) to avoid the necessity of applying for a B-2 Visitor Visa at the US Embassy or Consulate in person.
List of Visa Waiver Program designated countries: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/us-visas/tourism-visit/visa-waiver-program.html
The B-2 Tourist Visitor Visa is the most appropriate visa for recreational travel, including tourism, visiting friends or relatives, rest, or is related to medical treatment, activities of a fraternal, social, or service nature, or participation by amateurs who will receive no remuneration in musical, sports and similar events or contests.
The following activities and then permitted while carrying this type of visa:
- Vacation (holiday)
- Visit with friends or relatives
- Medical treatment
- Participation in social events hosted by fraternal, social, or service organizations
- Participation by amateurs in musical, sports, or similar events or contests, if not being paid for participating
- Enrollment in a short recreational course of study, not for credit toward a degree (for example, a two-day cooking class while on vacation)
Foreign nationals coming to the U.S. primarily for tourism, but wanting to take a short course of study which is recreational, and the course is less than 18 hours per week, they may be able to do so on a visitor visa. If the course of study is 18 hours or more a week, the foreign national will need a student visa. When traveling to the U.S. to attend seminars or conferences for credit towards a degree, then the foreign national will need a student visa.
The following special categories of travelers are allowed to enter the United States with a B-2 Business Visitor Visa or ESTA with some limitations: fiancé(e) of U.S. Citizens, permanent resident foreign nationals and nonimmigrant foreign nationals; foreign nationals who have a proxy marriage with Nonimmigrant foreign nationals; spouse or child of U.S. Citizen or permanent resident foreign nationals; cohabitating partners, extended family members, or other household members not eligible for derivative status of nonimmigrant foreign nationals; foreign nationals seeking naturalization under INA 329; children seeking expeditious naturalization under INA 322; dependents of foreign nationals Members of U.S. Armed Forces eligible for naturalization under INA 328; foreign nationals destined to an avocational or recreational school; lawful permanent resident (LPR) issued nonimmigrant visitor visa for emergency temporary visit to United States; and, adoptive child coming to United States for acquisition of citizenship.
We will cover below one of those special categories and the tourist visa for medical treatment as well as warning about coming to the U.S. solely to give birth:
B-2 Tourist Visa for Cohabitating Partners, Extended Family Members, or other Household Members not Eligible for Derivative Status of Nonimmigrant Foreign nationals
The B-2 classification is appropriate for foreign nationals who are members of the household of another foreign national in long-term nonimmigrant status, but who are not eligible for derivative status under that foreign national's visa classification.
This is also an appropriate classification for foreign nationals who are members of the household of a U.S. citizen who normally lives and works overseas, but is returning to the United States for a temporary time period. Such foreign nationals include, but are not limited to the following: cohabitating partners or elderly parents of temporary workers, students, foreign government officials or employees posted to the United States, officers or employees of an international organization posted to the United States, and accompanying parent(s) of a minor F-1 child-student.
B-2 classification may also be accorded to a spouse or child who qualifies for derivative nonimmigrant status (other than derivative A or G status) as an eligible immediate family member, but for whom it may be inconvenient or impossible to apply for the proper H-4, L-2, F-2, or other nonimmigrant derivative visa, provided that the foreign national (the derivative) intends to maintain a residence outside the United States and otherwise meets the B visa eligibility requirements.
If such individuals plan to stay in the United States for more than six months, the foreign national should ask DHS for a one-year stay at the time they apply for admission. If needed, the foreign national may thereafter apply for extensions of stay, in increments of up to six months, for the duration of the principal foreign national's nonimmigrant status in the United States.
B-2 Tourist Visa for Medical Treatment
If a foreign national is traveling to receive medical treatment, then the Consular Officer must be satisfied that a medical practitioner in the United States has agreed to treat the foreign national, and the foreign national must provide information indicating the projected cost of treatment and any incidental expenses. The Consular Officer must be satisfied that the foreign national has the means derived from legal sources and the intent to pay for the medical treatment and all incidental expenses, including transportation and living expenses, doctors' and hospitalization fees, as well as other medical and related expenses, either independently or with the pre-arranged assistance of others. In order to evaluate this and the credibility of the foreign national's purpose of travel, the Consular Officer may ask for documentation, including:
- a medical diagnosis from a local physician, explaining the nature of the ailment and the reason the foreign national seeks medical treatment in the United States;
- a letter from a physician or medical facility in the United States stating that they are willing to treat the foreign national's specific ailment and detailing the projected length and cost of treatment, including doctors' fees, hospitalization fees, and all medical-related expenses; and
- evidence that the foreign national's transportation, medical, and living expenses in the United States will be paid. This may be in the form of bank or other statements of income/savings or certified copies of income tax returns of either the foreign national or the person/organization paying for treatment.
Travel to give birth in the United States
Traveling to the U.S. with the only intention to give birth with a B visa or ESTA is prohibited. Visiting temporarily for pleasure does not include travel for the primary purpose of obtaining U.S. citizenship for a child by giving birth in the United States. Any B nonimmigrant visa foreign national who the Consular Officer has reason to believe will give birth during her/his stay in the United States is presumed to be traveling for the primary purpose of obtaining U.S. citizenship for the child. The foreign national can overcome this presumption if the consular officer finds that the primary purpose of travel is not obtaining U.S. citizenship for a child.
The Consular Officer must determine whether there is a reason to believe a B nonimmigrant visa foreign national will travel for the primary purpose of giving birth in the United States. The Consular Officer may have reason to believe an foreign national will give birth because they indicate that purpose of travel in the DS-160 application form or during the visa interview. For example, a B-2 nonimmigrant visa foreign national has the option of specifying “Tourism/ Medical Treatment” as the purpose of trip to the United States on the DS-160. If the Consular Officer have reason to believe the foreign national will give birth in the United States during the foreign national’s intended stay, the Consular Officer should continue to evaluate the credibility of the foreign national’s claimed purpose of travel by asking all necessary questions. However, the Consular Officer must not ask a visa foreign national whether the foreign national is pregnant unless the Consular Officer has a specific articulable reason to believe the foreign national may be pregnant and planning to give birth in the United States. The Consular Officer must not, as a matter of course, ask all female foreign nationals (or any specific sub-sets of foreign nationals) whether they are pregnant or intend to become pregnant; the Consular Officer also may not require B nonimmigrant visa foreign nationals to provide evidence that they are not pregnant.
The Consular Officer should assess only the foreign national’s current purpose of travel and must not factor in the possibility that the foreign national may become pregnant at some future date, if the foreign national is otherwise eligible and satisfies you that they have a legitimate purpose for travel. The Consular Officer should not limit the validity period of a visa for an otherwise qualified B nonimmigrant visa foreign national, as reflected in the reciprocity schedule, solely because the foreign national is pregnant or may become pregnant in the future.
If the Consular Officer has reason to believe the foreign national will give birth during their stay in the United States, the Consular Officer is required to presume that giving birth for the purpose of obtaining U.S. citizenship is the foreign national’s primary purpose of travel. This presumption is rebuttable, meaning the foreign national can overcome the presumption that they are traveling for the primary purpose of obtaining U.S. citizenship for the child if you determine that the foreign national has established, to the Consular Officer’s satisfaction, a different and permissible primary purpose of travel. For example, a foreign national might overcome the presumption if they have a medically complicated pregnancy and have arranged for specialized medical care in the United States, because such specialized care is not available in or near the country where the foreign national resides. In such a case, the Consular Officer may conclude the foreign national’s primary purpose of travel is for specialized medical care, as opposed to seeking U.S. citizenship for the child.
Medical care is not the only way the presumption can be rebutted. For example, if a B nonimmigrant visa foreign national’s primary purpose for travel to the United States is to visit a dying family member, and during the visit the foreign national may give birth in the United States because the pregnancy due date overlaps with the family member’s last expected months of life, the foreign national may be able to rebut the presumption. In such a case, the foreign national must satisfy the Consular Officer that the primary purpose is to visit a dying relative rather than to obtain U.S. citizenship for a child. Similarly, a foreign national for a B nonimmigrant visa who you conclude does not intend to, and will not, give birth in the United States, or who otherwise rebuts the presumption that they intend to travel to the United States primarily to obtain U.S. citizenship for a child, must not be refused solely because the foreign national is or intends to become pregnant.
The fact that a foreign national has an arranged birth plan with a doctor or medical facility in the United States, or simply expresses a preference to give birth in the United States over other locations, is not sufficient to rebut the presumption that their primary purpose of travel is obtaining U.S. citizenship for the child. One key factor you should consider is whether the foreign national has access to reasonable medical care in or near the country where the foreign national resides.