A citizen of a foreign country who wants to visit the U.S. as a tourist must obtain what is known as a “B-2 Visitor visa,” commonly referred to as a “tourist visa.” The tourist visa can, as the name suggests, be used for tourism; it also, however, can be used to obtain medical treatment in the U.S.
The tourist visa allows a citizen of a foreign country to stay in the U.S. for a limited period of time for a limited purpose. For example, holders of tourist visas are not allowed to work in the U.S., nor are they allowed to enroll as a student at an educational institution. There are other visas for those purposes (see “Employment-based visas,” and “Student visas,” respectively).
In fact, when applying for a tourist visa, the foreign citizen must declare under penalty of perjury that s/he has a “non-immigrant intent,” which of course means that s/he does not plan to stay in the U.S. indefinitely while on the tourist visa. For more on the “intent” issue, read “Visitor Visas to the United States and the Presumption of Immigration”.
Once in the U.S., a holder of a tourist visa who wishes to stay longer may apply for an “extension of stay.” This application entails filing Form I-539 with United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”). It is suggested that the application for an extension of stay be filed with USCIS at least 45 days prior to the expiration date on the I-94. In the application for the extension of stay, the applicant must reduce to writing: (1) the reason(s) why s/he must stay, (2) why the extension of stay will be temporary (including what travel arrangements have been made to depart the U.S.), and (3) how the extension of stay will effect (or not) the noncitizen’s employment or residency in his or her home country. In addition to these requirements, the applicant must include a copy of his or her I-94, and pay the USCIS filing fee.
Citizens from certain countries may qualify for the Visa Waiver Program (“VWP”). These individuals are not required to apply for a visa in their home countries; rather, their visa is stamped upon arrival at a U.S. port of entry, and are allowed to stay for up to 90 days. The list of countries that are eligible for the VWP are listed here.
Genesis Law Firm, PLLC handles all matters relating to tourist visa applications, extensions of stay, and replacing lost Forms I-94. Contact Genesis Law Firm, PLLC to speak with a knowledgeable and experienced tourist visa attorney who can help you determine the steps that must be taken for you to visit the U.S. or extend your stay in the U.S. Genesis Law Firm, PLLC offers high-level legal counsel at more affordable rates, and free Mandarin Chinese interpretation is available upon request.