US Tourist Visa Requirements & Eligibility
According to data released by the US Department of State, the number of non-immigrant visas issued in FY 2018 decreased 7%, as compared to FY 2017. This decline can be attributed to a 5% increase in the ineligibility findings by the State Department, leading to visa denials, during the same period.
With vetting for visa becoming more stringent, it is important to understand the eligibility criteria before applying for a B1/B2 visa.
When Can You Apply for a Tourist Visa?
The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) Section 214(b) presumes every visa applicant as a potential immigrant, until they are able to “satisfactorily” establish their non-immigrant status before the consular officer. A classic case of “guilty until proven innocent.” So, you should apply for a tourist visa only when you are confident that you have the evidence required to convince the consular officer that:
- Your visit to the US is only for leisure, business or medical treatment purposes.
- You intend to stay in the US for a fixed duration and then return to your home country.
- You have sufficient funds to cover expenses incurred during the trip
- You have a permanent residence outside the United States, and from social and economic responsibilities that will compel you to return.
To know more about the various ineligibility conditions, visit the US Department of State website’s Ineligibilities and Waivers page.
It’s a great idea to get Travel/Medical insurance when traveling to USA. As medical cost (even for the common cold) can run into hundreds of dollars in the US, it is recommended that you get good medical insurance, before your trip. Good thing is that if you buy it online before your trip, it may be cheaper. Compare & find a good plan here.
Qualifying Documents for a US Tourist Visa
To improve your chances of getting a US visitor visa, ensure that you possess the following documents:
- A valid passport with a minimum validity of 6 months beyond the duration of your trip.
- All other old passports that you might have.
- One digital and one printed photograph, adhering to all the specifications.
- DS-160 confirmation page
- Visa fee receipt
- A copy of the visa interview appointment letter
Supporting Documents for US Visa
Apart from the ones mentioned above, you may also need to provide other documents depending upon the nature of your trip.
In case you’re visiting the US for pleasure, you will need
- Complete travel itinerary
- Proof of sufficient funds, such as copies of your bank statements.
- Your business card (if applicable)
If your trip is focused on attending a family event or visiting relatives or children, you will require an invitation letter and proof of the event (invitation card or brochure).
For medical treatment in the US, you need to provide:
- A letter from your doctor in India, stating the need for seeking treatment in the United States
- A letter from a US-based doctor, describing your treatment, its duration and costs
- In case you are being sponsored by an individual or organization, they will need to furnish documents validating their capability to fulfil this responsibility.
Keep in mind that the supporting documents can vary from person to person and for individual circumstances. There may also be a requirement of other evidence, which you need to present before the consular officer.
Make sure there are no discrepancies in the information submitted in the form and that which you provide during the visa interview, since this could spell trouble for your visa application.