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Updated 18 August 2021
Some will naturally associate the United States of America with images of big cities the likes of sunny Los Angeles, vibrant New York, elegant Boston, and artistic San Francisco just to name a few.
So is the US open for tourism now? Do we need a tourist visa to visit the US? Here is all you need to know about the US tourist visa; its validity, fees, how to apply, as well as its extendability.
Is the US open for tourists now?
Yes, the US is currently open for tourism. However, travellers coming from a number of specified countries will not be granted entry at this time. For details of the entry requirements and restrictions, please check out our travel to the US article.
What is the US tourist visa?
The US tourist visa is known as the B-2 visitor visa. It is a non-immigrant visa that grants multiple entries to the country and allows holders to remain in the US for a maximum period of 180 days for each visit.
As the US tourist visa is issued to accommodate travellers visiting the US for leisure purposes, travellers must not take up gainful employment, enrol in any educational institution or conduct business during their stay. Travellers must also ensure to not overstay their welcome.
Do I need a tourist visa to enter the US?
Generally speaking, travellers from nearly every country require a visa to enter the US with the exception of 39 visa-waiver countries.
How long is the validity period of the US tourist visa?
Depending on your country of residence, the US tourist visa may be valid for one month to 10 years following its date of issuance. You may enter the US multiple times with the B-2 visa during its validity period. Check here to find out the validity period of the B-2 visa for your country.
Is the US tourist visa extendable?
Yes, the US tourist visa is extendable for an additional six months. If you would like to extend the validity of your B-2 tourist visa, the following would be required:
- A completed I-539 form
- A valid passport
- A written statement depicting the reason for your request of a visa extension
- Proof of financial support
- Able to pay the extension fee of USD 370
- A photocopy or the original I-94 card
How do I apply for the US tourist visa?
Applying for the US tourist visa can be done by taking the following steps:
Complete the online visa application
You must complete the DS-160 form by providing all the required information extending to your identification and the purpose of your visit. Fill out all the required fields and make sure all the provided data is accurate before submitting the form.
You will also be asked to provide your current photograph. Note that your photo must be in the format explained on the Photograph Requirements page.
Upon successful submission, you will be taken to a verification page.
Complete the visa application payment
The fee of the B-2 visa application is USD 160 and is non-refundable. After your payment is successful, keep your proof of payment as it is one of the required documents to be submitted later on.
Schedule your interview
All visa applicants between the ages of 14 to 79 will be required to attend an interview at the US embassy or consulate in their country of residence. You may attend the interview outside of the country where you live but be advised that it may be more difficult to qualify for a visa.
Attend the interview
The interview will be conducted by a US embassy official. They will inquire about your general background and your reason for wanting to visit the US. They will also crosscheck all the information in your submitted form against the documents you have provided. To save time, ensure that all provided information is accurate and all the required documents are present.
What are the required documents?
Gather and prepare the following required documents before your visa interview:
- Passport valid for travel to the United States – Your passport must be valid for at least six months beyond your period of stay in the United States (unless exempt by country-specific agreements). Each individual who needs a visa must submit a separate application, including any family members listed in your passport.
- Non- immigrant Visa application, Form DS-160 confirmation page
- Application fee payment receipt, if you are required to pay before your interview
- A recent photo – as mentioned, your uploaded photo must comply with the official photograph requirements. If for some reason you are not able to upload your photo, you must bring one printed photo in the requested format
Other additional documents may be required. These may include:
- The purpose of your trip
- Your intent to depart the United States after your trip, and/or
- Your ability to pay all costs of the trip
What is the fee for the US tourist visa?
The fee of the US tourist visa application is USD 160 and is non-refundable. However, depending on your country of residence, you may be liable to pay a visa issuance fee.
The issuance fee varies according to country, and you can consult the amount of these fees on the visa validity list page as mentioned above.