About the U.S. Visitor Visa

About the U.S. Visitor (Class B-2) Visa

For those participants in IFF short-term programs who are not from a visa waiver country, a Visitor Visa (Class B-2) will likely be required.

Qualifying for the U.S. Visitor (Class B-2) Visa

There are certain requirements that must be met to qualify for the Visitor Visa under the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act. The consular officer at the embassy or consulate in the student’s home country will make the determination about whether he or she is qualified for a visitor visa.

Basic qualifications for a U.S. Visitor Visa include:

  • Student/visitor is intending to enter the United States temporarily for the primary purpose of pleasure or tourism
  • Student is not engaging in a course of study for credit
  • Any classes taken during the trip are incidental, primarily for leisure, and less than 18 hours per week (IFF’s homestay ESL programs, for example, are typically 3-4 weeks long and generally offer 12 hours of incidental English-language instruction per week).

The U.S. law presumes that every applicant for a visitor visa is an immigrant who intends to stay in the United States. Applicants for U.S. visitor visas are therefore required to show that they do not intend to immigrate to the United States in order to obtain the visa.

IFF program participants who are required to obtain a Visitor Visa must therefore prove the following to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate Official in their home country:

  1. That the purpose of his or her trip to the U.S. is to participate in a short-term IFF program (those lasting less than 90 days).
  2. That he or she has sufficient resources to cover expenses in the United States.
  3. That he or she has social and economic ties to his or her home country.
  4. That he or she maintains a residence in his or her own country and will return there at the conclusion of the program.

The Registration Letter received from IFF for all student participants required to obtain a Visitor Visa should be presented to the embassy or consulate official and will set forth facts relevant to proving these points.

The U.S. Visitor Visa Application Process

IFF program participants in need of a U.S. Visitor Visa should apply at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in their country of citizenship (applicants may go to a U.S. Embassy or Consulate in another country, but the application process is much easier in the applicant’s home country).

Apply for your visa early!!!

IFF program participants in need of a visa should begin their application process as soon as possible after registering for the program. Visa applications are given substantially more review than in the past, so starting early will help ensure that you are ready come arrival day.

What to expect in the application process

Check with your local Embassy or Consulate in your home country regarding the specific procedures and wait times for your application. Visa wait times for each Embassy or Consulate can be found at http://travel.state.gov/visa/temp/wait/wait_4638.html.

For a link to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in your home country, please visit http://www.usembassy.gov.

While the exact process varies depending on the specific Embassy or Consulate at which application is made, applicants are generally required to:

  • Complete the Online Nonimmigrant Visa Electronic Application, Form DS-160 at https://ceac.state.gov/genniv (Note: a 2” x 2” digital photograph will be required for the application)
  • Schedule a required interview at the appropriate Embassy or Consulate for any persons between the ages of 14 and 79
  • Attend the scheduled interview
  • Have an ink-free, digital fingerprint scan taken
  • Possess a valid passport with an expiration date no sooner than six months after the applicant’s scheduled departure from the U.S.
  • Submit any other required documentation+

For more information about the U.S. Visitor Visa, including eligibility and application requirements, please visit http://travel.state.gov/visa/temp/types/types_1262.html.