No matter where you’re coming from, it makes sense that you’d like to visit family or friends living in the U.S. However, it’s not always a simple process; in fact, many people choose to work with a Milwaukee immigration attorney who can walk them through the necessary steps in order to get a temporary, non-immigrant visa.
How to Get a Visitor Visa for the U.S.
If you’re planning on visiting family or friends, or if you’d just like to vacation here and explore all the sights, it’s best to think ahead. It can take quite a while for government officials to process your paperwork, and wait times can vary. You can check average wait times and processing times at the U.S. State Department’s website – but remember, those time periods are averages and can change quickly.
There are a few things you need to know before you apply. Your Milwaukee immigration lawyer will discuss this with you when you call, but it’s helpful to have a good idea of what to expect ahead of time.
A visitor visa is considered a B-2 visa. If you’re coming for work, to study, or to get permanent residency, you’ll need a different type of visa. A B-2 visa is only good for:
- Tourism and vacationing
- Visits with family or friends
- Medical treatment
- Amateur (and unpaid) participation in musical or sporting events
If you’re working with an attorney, he or she will ask you if there’s anything that might prevent the U.S. government from issuing you a visa. Things such as previous criminal convictions, fraud and some health-related grounds could preclude you from being able to visit. However, waivers are sometimes available for visitor visas to the U.S.
You’ll need to have a valid passport before you attend your mandatory visa interview. The only people who don’t have to participate in an interview are children under the age of 13 and people who are 80 years old or older; some people who are between the ages of 14 and 79 who are renewing a visa may not have to be interviewed.
During your interview, you’ll need to be fingerprinted. You may be asked why you’re traveling to the U.S., when you intend to depart and whether you can afford the entire trip.
From there, you simply have to wait out the processing time. Your Milwaukee immigration lawyer can help you check the status of your application and make sure you’re aware of any changes necessary, as well as help you apply for waivers if you’re considered ineligible for a visitor visa.
Bonus tip: Don’t purchase a plane ticket until you have been granted a visitor visa. Because there’s no guarantee that the U.S. government will grant you a visa, it would be a shame to spend your hard-earned money on a trip that you can’t take.