B-2, Visitor for Pleasure

Section 101(a)(15)(B) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (“INA”) provides that an alien who has a residence in a foreign country which he has no intention of abandoning and who is visiting the United States temporarily for business or for pleasure may enter the United States in “B” status. The regulations at 8 C.F.R. § 214.2(b) divide B visa classification into B-1 visitors for business and B-2 visitors for pleasure.

The Department of State summarizes legitimate B-2 activities as follows:

  • Tourism
  • 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)

In addition to having a legitimate purpose in entering the United States, the B-2 applicant also must prove the following elements:

  1. Evidence of a foreign residence which the applicant has no intention of abandoning.

    This can be demonstrated by a copy of one's lease agreement on an apartment in his or her home country or a title deed to one's property; by a letter from the applicant's employer in his or her home country stating that the applicant is on leave from work and is expected to return to her job on a specified date; or by showing evidence of a spouse and/or children who are being left behind in one's home country during the trip. This list is not exhaustive, but illustrative of the types of evidence required to prove one's intent.

  2. Evidence that you intend to enter the United States for a period of specifically limited duration.

    You must be able to explain the purpose of your trip (visit relatives, attend wedding, etc.), and the duration of your anticipated travel should be consistent with the purpose of the trip.

  3. Evidence that you seek admission for the sole purpose of engaging in legitimate activities

    You may not enter the U.S. in B-2 visitor status if you intend to work in the U.S. or if you intend to seek permanent residence in the U.S. The evidence you present and the explanation you give of your plans must create a clear picture of your intent to enter solely to visit the United States for leisure or medical activities.

Because of these requirements, it is nearly impossible for certain people to enter the United States as visitors. For example, those who are engaged to be married to a U.S. Citizen or Permanent Resident are likely to be found inadmissible as visitors because it will be very difficult for them to establish that they do not intend to stay in the United States permanently. It will also be difficult for people who are already temporarily residing in a country outside of their country of residence to obtain a visitor visa to the United States (such as in the case of a college student from France who is studying in the U.K.). Again, someone in this situation will have a difficult time establishing a residence abroad which they have no intention of abandoning.

B-2 visitors may be admitted to the United States initially for between 6 months and 1 year. The period of stay is controlled by one's I-94 record. B-2 status may be extended in 6-month increments. There is no limit to the amount of time that someone can spend in B-2 status; however, the above requirements must be met upon each extension. With each renewal, it becomes more difficult to prove nonimmigrant intent, and the risk of denial grows exponentially.

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