Reuniting Families for the Holidays to Visit the US

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If you live in the US or your family lives in the US, you may not want to be separated for the holidays. Since the holidays are often about family traditions, you will want to be together for the holidays. Fortunately, the US makes this possible with the B2 visa, which is a visitor visa that allows foreign nationals to enter the US on a temporary basis for family visits and tourism purposes. If you have family in the US that you would like to visit this year, keep in mind that:

  • You need to determine whether you need a B2 visa. You may not need a visitor visa at all if you are visiting only for a short time and are from a country that takes part in the visa waiver program. If your country of origin does not qualify you for a visa waiver, then you will need to apply for a visitor visa.
  • You should apply for a B2 visa as soon as you realize that you wish to visit, and well before you make your travel plans. It can take some time to apply for a B2 visa and there are often many people trying to re-enter the US during the holidays because of holiday family plans. Therefore, give yourself plenty of time and have an alternate plan in case your visa does not arrive on time. Avoid booking any non-refundable flights or making travel plans until you get your B2 visa, just in case any problems or delays do come up.
  • Having a B2 visa does not guarantee you entry into the US. You are not guaranteed to get a B2 visa, although there is an unlimited number of these non-immigrant visitor visas issued each year. Although the standards for this visa are not as strict as for a green card, you can still be rejected for a visitor visa if you have criminal convictions or if you have a history of immigration violations in the US. Even if you do get a visitor visa, the B2 visa only allows you to seek entry into the US at a port of entry. US border authorities still have the right to deny you entry if they have any reason to believe that there is a reason to do so.
  • In order to secure a visitor visa, it is your responsibility to prove that you do not intent to immigrate into the US. The US assumes that anyone applying for a visitor visa is attempting immigration into the US, and it is up to you to show that you intend to return to your home country. If you can show evidence of ties back home – such as a property you own, a family you have back home, or a job you have at home – this can improve your chances of getting a B2 visa. Bring as much of this type of evidence as you can to your consular interview.