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U.S. Department of State  
95/08/01 Visas:  Visitor-Business and Pleasure  
Bureau of Consular Affairs  
                      VISITORS:  BUSINESS AND PLEASURE  

Generally, a citizen of a foreign country who wishes to enter the United 
States must first obtain a visa, either a nonimmigrant visa for 
temporary stay, or an immigrant visa for permanent residence.  The “B” 
visitor visa is a nonimmigrant visa for persons desiring to enter the 
United States temporarily for business (B-1), or for pleasure or medical 
treatment (B-2).  Persons planning to travel to the U.S. for a different 
purpose such as students, temporary workers, crewmen, journalists, etc., 
must apply for a different visa in the appropriate category.  The 
consular officer can provide additional information.  Travelers from 
certain eligible countries may also be able to visit the U.S. without a 
visa on the Visa Waiver Pilot Program.  (See back cover for further 
Applicants for visitor visas must show that they qualify under 
provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act.  The presumption in 
the law is that every visa applicant is an intending immigrant.  
Therefore, applicants for visitor visas must overcome this presumption 
by demonstrating that: 
--  The purpose of their trip is to enter the U.S. for business, 
pleasure, or medical treatment; 
--  That they plan to remain for a specific, limited period; and 
--  That they have a residence outside the U.S. as well as other binding 
ties which will insure their return abroad at the end of the visit. 
The nonimmigrant visa application Form OF-156 lists classes of persons 
who are ineligible under U.S. law to receive visas.  In some instances 
an applicant who is ineligible, but who is otherwise properly 
classifiable as a visitor, may apply for a waiver of ineligibility and 
be issued a visa if the waiver is approved. 
Applicants for visitor visas should generally apply at the American 
Embassy or Consulate with jurisdiction over their place of permanent 
residence.  Although visa applicants may apply at any U.S. consular 
office abroad, it may be more difficult to qualify for the visa outside 
the country of permanent residence. 
Required Documentation 
Each applicant for a visitor visa must submit: 
1)  An application Form OF-156, completed and signed.  Blank forms are 
available without charge at all U.S. consular offices; 
2)  A passport valid for travel to the United States and with a validity 
date at least six months beyond the applicant’s intended period of stay 
in the United States.  If more than one person is included in the 
passport, each person desiring a visa must make an application; 
3)  Two photographs 1 and 1/2 inches square (37x37 mm) for each 
applicant, showing full face, without head covering, against a light 
Optional Documentation 
Applicants must demonstrate that they are properly classifiable as 
visitors under U.S. law.  Evidence which shows the purpose of the trip, 
intent to depart the United States, and arrangements made to cover the 
costs of the trip may be provided.  It is impossible to specify the 
exact form the evidence should take since applicants’ circumstances vary 
Persons traveling to the U.S. on business can present a letter from the 
U.S. business firm indicating the purpose of the trip, the bearer’s 
intended length of stay, and the firm’s intent to defray travel costs.  
Persons traveling to the U.S. for pleasure may use letters from 
relatives or friends in the U.S. whom the applicant plans to visit, or 
confirmation of participation in a planned tour. 
Persons traveling to the U.S. for medical treatment should have a 
statement from a doctor or institution concerning proposed medical 
Those applicants who do not have sufficient funds to support themselves 
while in the U.S. must present convincing evidence that an interested 
person will provide support.  Visitors are not permitted to accept 
employment during their stay in the U.S.  Depending on individual 
circumstances, applicants may provide other evidence substantiating the 
trip's purpose and specifying the nature of binding obligations, such as 
family ties or employment, which would compel their return abroad. 
A person whose passport contains a previously issued visitor visa should 
inquire about special expedited procedures available at most consular 
offices for issuance of a new visitor visa. 
Unless previously canceled, a visa is valid until its expiration date.  
Therefore, if the traveler has a valid U.S. visitor visa in an expired 
passport, he or she may use it along with a new valid passport for 
travel and admission to the United States. 
A non-refundable $20.00 application fee is collected at posts which 
issue machine-readable visas.  If there is a fee for issuance of the 
visa, it is equal as nearly as possible to the fee charged to United 
States citizens by the applicant’s country of nationality. 
Applicants for visitor visas should not find it necessary to employ 
persons to assist them in preparing documents or securing access to the 
U.S. consular office. 
Attempting to obtain a visa by the willful misrepresentation of a 
material fact, or fraud, may result in the permanent refusal of a visa 
or denial of entry into the United States. 
If the consular officer should find it necessary to deny the issuance of 
a visitor visa, the applicant may apply again if there is new evidence 
to overcome the basis for the refusal.  In the absence of new evidence, 
consular officers are not obliged to re-examine such cases. 
Applicants should be aware that a visa does not guarantee entry into the 
United States.  The U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) 
has authority to deny admission.  Also, the period for which the bearer 
of a visitor visa is authorized to remain in the United States is 
determined by the INS, not the consular officer.  At the port of entry, 
an INS official must authorize the traveler’s admission to the U.S.  At 
that time the INS Form I-94, Record of Arrival-Departure, which notes 
the length of stay permitted, is validated.  Those visitors who wish to 
stay beyond the time indicated on their Form I-94 must contact the INS 
to request Form I-539, Application to Extend Status. The decision to 
grant or deny a request for extension of stay is made solely by the INS. 
Travelers coming to the U.S. for tourism or business for 90 days or less 
from qualified countries may be eligible to visit the U.S. without a 
visa.  As of November 1995, citizens of the following 23 countries may 
participate in the Visa Waiver Pilot Program:  Andorra, Austria, 
Belgium, Brunei, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, 
Italy, Japan, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Monaco, the Netherlands, New 
Zealand, Norway, San Marino, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United 
Kingdom.  Visitors entering on the Visa Waiver Pilot Program cannot work 
or study while in the U.S. and cannot stay longer than 90 days or adjust 
their status to another category. 
Questions on visa application procedures and ineligibilities should be 
made to the American consular office abroad by the applicant. 
Bureau of Consular Affairs 
Visa Services Directorate 
November 1995 


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