B2 “Tourist” Visa to the United States

B-2 visas are colloquially known as “tourist” visas

B-2 visas are colloquially known as “tourist” visas, though they are intended for people coming to the U.S. not only as tourists, but also to visit family and friends, engage in a short course of study, get medical care, participate as an amateur in an entertainment or athletic event or for other similar temporary purposes.   In some special situations, such as accompanying a member of one’s household who is here in another non-immigrant category, an extended B-2 stay can be granted. Any paid work is not permitted with a B-2 visa.  

Immigrant Intent at the Consulate

Although there are B-1 visas for temporary business trips to the United States, in the current situation, most Ukrainians applying for a B visa will be applying for a B-2 visitor visa.  It is important to remember that it is the responsibility of the applicant to demonstrate to the U.S. consular officer that they do not have “immigrant intent”—meaning the intent to stay in the United States permanently.  Applicants for B-2 visas generally have to show their ties to their home country, their ability to support themselves in the United States without working, and their intention to return to their home country at the end of their authorized stay in the United States.  Applicants who are intending to stay with relatives in the United States should include proof of the relatives’ ability and willingness to host and support them.  

If an applicant says anything that leads the consular officer to believe that their true intent is to stay permanently, the visa application may be denied.  For example, if an applicant mentions relatives in the United States who plan to file an immigrant petition on their behalf, the consular officer might conclude that a temporary stay is not their true intent.  Or if an applicant refers to their wish to travel to the United States as a refugee, the officer might conclude that their true wish is to resettle permanently in the United States as a refugee. 

Immigrant Intent at the Airport

Even if someone has a valid B-2 visitor visa in their passport, they are not guaranteed entry to the United States.  Customs and Border Protection officers at the port of entry may again question the traveler about the purpose of their visit to the United States.  Ukrainians and others wishing to travel on B-2 visas to the United States should be prepared to answer questions from consular officials and from CBP officers about their ties to their home country and their intention to return to their home country. 

For more information about the conditions and limitations of a B-2 visa, please see our informational resource for people who have entered on B-2 visas to the United States. 

U.S. Government Resources about Visitor Visas

Here is a short list of U.S. government websites with useful information about the process of applying for a visitor visa. 

  • Visa Appointment Wait Times. This can provide a ballpark of how long it may take to get a visa appointment at various consulates. Please note that this information changes frequently and is not always a true reflection of the wait times at a given consulate.
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