For everyone who wants to visit one of the most sought after destinations in the world, one of the main steps will be the issuance of a tourist visa in the USA. This document is what will enable you to enter North American lands and take advantage of all that it has to offer.
The dream of visiting the United States is almost universal. After all, we have always had a lot of contact with the culture of our northern neighbors. Its films, music, literature, fashion and so many other cultural expressions blend with ours . Often in ways that we can’t even tell which is which.
Thanks to this, many North American icons are imprinted in our imagination. Seeking to visit famous places, learn about customs and experience first-hand what we see on TV is a great goal.
Furthermore, the entire American history is alive to this day. In the streets, buildings and people, it is possible to see up close the construction of the country and its national identity. All of this makes visiting the United States a unique experience that, no wonder, leads many to repeat and return to the country over and over again.
Like the early Pathfinders, who made the journey westward to discover the new world, a visit to the United States is an opportunity to experience that journey.
In this article we will see what attracts so many tourists to the United States. In addition, we will also help you to obtain a tourist visa.
With a complete walkthrough just ahead, you’ll find out about everything you’ll need to apply for a visa. In addition, we will give you a series of tips for the interview, and how to make sure you don’t encounter any unwanted surprises. Good reading!
Lots of options for tourists
One of the great similarities between the United States and most countries is its continental size. With an extensive territory of almost 10 million square kilometers, the country accommodates a multitude of peoples and lifestyles. Throughout its 50 states, starred in its flag, all kinds of experiences await tourists.
New York has its famous streets, full of legendary lights and attractions. In this great metropolis, all kinds of people live. Its famous winter brings freezing temperatures and embellishes the landscape with Christmas white. In addition, the state capital’s Central Park is among the most sought after destinations in the world.
On the other hand, Florida offers a heat better known to foreigners. The strong sun makes the beaches busy. Outdoor sports are common in cities like Los Angeles or Miami. Also, this is where celebrities usually walk the streets and the laid-back and free lifestyle makes everyone welcome.
How can I not mention Orlando parks, famous all over the world? Visiting Disneyworld, Universal parks, the World of Harry Potter and so many others is a dream for many!
Natural and historical beauties
Urban attractions are prominent in the United States, but we cannot fail to mention the historical and natural beauties. Parks like Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon are key destinations in the country. The entire indigenous history, and its traditions, are today considered essential for the country and a full plate for anyone interested in native peoples.
And if you visit the capital Washington and traditional states, you’ll be able to see key figures of the country and the foundation of what is now the American way of life up close. Legendary museums compile human knowledge and history, such as the Smithsonian, also in Washington D.C.
All this mentioned above is part of an idealization, and with reasons. This long-awaited trip is full of challenges, but in the end they are all worth it. Getting a visa to enter the country is one of these challenges, but it can be done simply and safely.
As? See below the types of visa and how to obtain a tourist visa.
Types of tourist visa in the USA
Depending on the purpose of the trip, different visas can be issued. Each type gives the visitor specific conditions. Whether it’s the length of stay, work permits or even to get a driver’s license, or the possibility of extending the stay.
Visas issued to tourists fall into three types. They are seen by visitors or people in transit, and they have their particularities.
Type B-1 Visitor Visa
The B-1 visa is the visa issued to visitors who are on business in the United States. These businesses must be for non-US companies, as this visa does not give the applicant the condition to work in US territory.
This visit cannot be paid for by US sources, and assurance must be given that it does not compromise the employment of US citizens.
Type B-2 Visitor Visa
The B-2 type is the visa issued to tourist visitors to the United States. In other words, the B-2 visa is the American tourist visa itself. With it, it is not allowed to work or study in the United States, except for courses with low workload.
Also, with this visa, the maximum duration allowed for permanence in American territory is 180 days. This time is defined by the immigration officer and may be shorter. Therefore, it may be necessary to prove the duration of the trip for validity to be established.
Type C-1 visitor visa
The C-1 visa is issued to visitors only passing through the United States. They are those who will not remain in the territory. It is issued to people who are going to other countries but whose flight makes a stopover through the United States, for example. The C-1 visa is also valid for travel by land or sea.
It is requested in case of stopovers lasting up to 48 hours.
Step by step to get a US tourist visa
You’ve already planned the whole trip, made the itineraries and are already thinking about what you’re going to take and bring in your bags. However, before that, there is still the most important part to ensure that everything goes as expected: the issuance of the tourist visa.
The process for applying for and receiving a tourist visa for the United States is basically the same as for other non-immigrant visas, such as a student visa. Except for some specificities of one or another visa, the tourist visa has stages present in all of them.
These are filling out forms that prove your identity and personal information. It will also be necessary to collect biometric data and the famous interview at the consulate.
Each of these steps is quite simple and straightforward. Still, it takes a lot of attention and focus.
Also, it is important to be aware that this procedure takes time. This can vary from 15 to 25 days, given normal conditions. Therefore, it is recommended that you apply for a visa at least one month before your trip. That way, you will have plenty of time to plan, apply for and receive a tourist visa.
To make sure you are aware of all the necessary steps, just follow our guide below. With it you will know exactly what to do in each part. In addition, we also bring some tips to help you in each one and give you more conditions to get the visa without complications. Come on?
- Form DS-160
Also known as the Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application, the DS-160 form must be completed by every person applying for a visa to the United States. This includes not only tourist visas, but also student visas, business travelers or any other non-immigrant.
Answer all questions correctly and in the same way as they are in the documents. If any irregularities are found later, the chances of your visa being denied are very high. Review each piece of information carefully before proceeding.
What does the DS-160 form ask for?
The DS-160 is the form that will formalize your visa application. Therefore, it will collect all the information necessary for the issuance of this in your name.
You must fill it in with your personal information, such as full name, Individual Taxpayer Registration number for those with your country nationality, valid passport number (that is, valid for at least six months after the date of travel), date of birth and others.
In addition to this personal information, there are also some questions regarding your visa history. For example, you will be asked to answer whether you have traveled to the US, whether visas have already been applied for on your behalf and other questions in this regard. Questions about traveling companions also exist.
The DS-160 form is completed completely online through this website . To ensure maximum security, save the processes after each filling and note the protocol number. This will prevent you from losing the progress you have made if something interrupts the filling, as with the protocol number you can resume where you left off.
But, attention: the DS-160 is all in English. Therefore, pay attention to everything that is said to avoid misinterpretation. If you are not familiar with the language, seek help from a translator.
A photo of you will be required to complete the form. It must match the requirements stated on this website . You will upload the digital photo, but it is recommended that you also have it in a physical version, as it can be requested.
After completing and requesting, you will be forwarded to the confirmation page. This will contain a barcode, which is essential to ensure that you have completed the entire process. Print this page and keep it, as you will need the code for the visit to the Visa Applicant Service Center (CASV) and the interview at the consulate.
choosing the consulate
Another very important point in filling out the DS-160 form is choosing the consulate. In it, you must inform the nearest consulate, or the one of your preference. This will be the same where you will carry out the interview and the same city to visit the CASV.
So, before filling out, research the options, check the best one for you and plan for it.
Paying the DS-160 fee
Finally, the DS-160 form requires the payment of a fee of US$160. It can be paid by credit card, by phone, through a Citibank branch or by bank slip. This is the only fee required.
With all this done, you will have already started the process of applying for your tourist visa to the United States. Just follow the next steps.
- Schedule an interview and visit to CASV
After completing and paying the DS-160, you will be able to schedule the interview at the consulate and the collection of biometric data. Once informed, the consulate where you must attend will be the same informed when filling out the DS-160 form.
To schedule, you can enter this site . You will need to register to then schedule the interview at the consulate. In addition, the applicant is also required to be present at a Visa Applicant Service Center (CASV). There, biometric data – photo and fingerprints will be collected.
With the restrictions brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, dates, times and locations may be restricted. Check all the information on the consulate websites and plan the interview and trip with this in mind. Also stay tuned for municipal, state and federal movement restrictions.
- Collection of biometric data
Before the interview, in order to obtain a tourist visa in the USA, you will need to go to a Visa Applicant Service Center (CASV). This visit will be for the collection of your fingerprints and a photo. It is more of a process to ensure the identity of the requestor and security of the process.
Currently, only in the city of Porto Alegre it is possible to visit the CASV and interview at the consulate on the same day. In other cities, therefore, the two processes will be carried out on different days. In this step, you need to have the DS-160 confirmation page and valid passport ready.
Under 16s and over 66s are not required to undergo fingerprinting. It is enough for them, or a representative, to deliver a 5×7 photo to the unit.
This step is only necessary to withdraw the first visa or if the previous one has already expired. The validity period of a tourist visa for the United States is 10 years.
- Interview and presentation of documents
Without a doubt, the most dreaded part of applying for a tourist visa to the United States is the interview at the consulate. She is the one who decides, once and for all, whether her visa will be approved or not.
The interview is scheduled in advance and held at one of the US consulates in your country.
On the appointed day, the applicant will be interviewed by a Consular Agent. The interview can be done in both your local dialect and English.
Despite all the pressure, the main tip is to stay calm. The only function of the interview is to prove the identity of the applicant and his intentions. Just carefully fill out the DS-160 form and you will be well on your way.
During the interview, the Consular Agent will ask you a series of questions regarding the information provided and your travel objectives. Answer all of them calmly and sincerely. Keep your travel data and motivations in mind.
As well as the collection of biometric data, minors under 16 and over 66 do not need to interview with the Consular Agent. However, this can be requested under specific conditions in which it deems necessary.
Intention to return to your country
One of the most influential factors is the so-called return intention. This means that you must show that you intend to stay in American territory only during the period of the visit and, later, return to your country.
Proving that intention back may be necessary through answers to the questions. In few cases documents will be required, but it is still important to have them available if requested.
Some factors that prove that you intend to return are enrollment in schools or universities in your country, permanent jobs, establishments, properties and vehicles in your name, among others. Children or close relatives who live here are also factors that prove your intention only to visit the United States and return.
In the end, the interview is one more step in the process to ensure the national security of the United States. About 96% of visas applied for are approved. Therefore, there is nothing to fear.
Documents needed for the interview
Remember to bring the most important documents to the interview and some that may be necessary to prove your intentions to return to your country. Remember to pay the DS-160 at least three days before the interview, as you will need payment already confirmed at the time.
- Current + previous passport, if any;
- Form DS-160 completed and paid for;
- Two color photos;
- Enrollment letter;
- Proof of accommodation;
- Costing letter (if using sponsor);
- Current income tax declaration with delivery receipt;
- 3 last bank statements (minimum balance of USD 1500 per month of stay in the USA);
- 3 last monthly receipts (payroll, paycheck, pro-labore or decorate);
- Proof of studies: enrollment, academic record, diploma (if any);
- Proof of employment: employment card, letter from the employer, social contract or professional identity card.
- Receiving your visa
Once you’ve done all the previous steps, now just wait for your tourist visa to arrive! The given period is up to 10 days. When scheduling the interview, you will choose whether to receive the passport with the visa at your address or pick it up at CASV.
As we said, a US tourist visa is valid for 10 years. However, this is the validity of the visa only.
When traveling and passing through the US immigration department, a period of stay in the country will be given. Generally, this period is up to 180 days, that is, six months. However, it may be smaller, depending on the reason for your visit.
What to do in case of visa denial?
Only about 4% of tourist visas to the United States are denied. Of these, about 60% are canceled due to errors in filling out the DS-160 form. Therefore, a thoughtful filling and tranquility in the answers during the interview are almost a guarantee that everything will work out.
Still, it may happen that your visa is denied. In this case, you can request a new one whenever you want, even the day after the first one was denied. To do so, you will need to fill in a new DS-160 and also pay for this new one.
With that, you can schedule a new interview and try again. Remember to fill in carefully and better prepare for the interview. Bring more documents that prove your intention to return and answer the Consular Agent’s questions more assertively and calmly.
How to increase the chances of getting a US tourist visa?
Getting a tourist visa for the US is a fairly simple process, although it scares some people. The bureaucratic processes involved only serve to confirm the identity of the applicant and, for national security, the intentions of the trip.
We’ve talked about it several times here on the blog and let’s reinforce it.
However, there are always some good practices that can help with visa issuance. The main thing is to fill out the DS-160 form correctly. As we have seen, more than half of the disapprovals occur due to filling errors and information that does not match reality.
Therefore, just paying attention while answering the DS-160 and putting all the information in line with your documents is already a good guarantee. Remember to have access to documents that prove past information, such as income and addresses.
And something obvious: never lie on any information provided on the form, especially if it is something that needs to be proven.
Have proof of “intention to return”
Still on the topic of documents, having some vouchers contributes a lot to demonstrate the so-called “intention to return”. This means proving that you intend to return to your home country after your visit to the United States.
As the visa is for a tourist, it will give you a period after which you must return, so it is necessary to be able to show that you will actually make the return trip. This is proven through documents that show ties in the national territory.
Among these documents we have the signed work card, which proves employment; proof of real estate, establishments in your name or even automobiles; enrollment in educational institutions; children, elderly or other dependents; among others.
Sufficient financial funds
Another point that may be important is proof of financial funds for the trip. This means proving that you really have the resources to pay for your stay, food, transportation and tours in the United States. Especially if the purpose is to visit attractions, you may need to prove it through appointments or tickets.
In extreme cases, you may need to prove your income. It must be consistent with the information on the DS-160, in addition to proving that you can actually stay in the United States for as long as you want.
Income tax returns, bank balances, paychecks and other proof of income serve these purposes and may also be requested.
Focus on the interview
Finally, nothing replaces a well-done interview. Keep calm and be ready to answer questions objectively. Try not to ramble or stray from the topic of the question.
Keep in mind your goals in the United States and always respond honestly and with information consistent with the documents and information filled in the DS-160.
Most interviews do not ask for extra documents to be presented. However, if the interviewer deems it necessary, this can be done – either because of an inconclusive answer or a lot of nervousness on the part of the applicant. Therefore, having the documents at hand is always the best option. After all, it’s better to prevent yourself, isn’t it?
With all this in mind and put into practice, it is more than certain to issue your American tourist visa!
If necessary, hire an advisor
Even simple processes can generate headaches. If you don’t want to take risks or simply don’t have time to take care of the bureaucracy on your own, you can hire companies that specialize in the subject.
An advisor will help you get a visa to go to the United States as a visitor. Ensuring that each step is carried out with rigor and accuracy is the function of a company of this type.
The advisors will be responsible for verifying the validity of the documents, assisting in scheduling the interview and preparing you for the most important moment of the process.
All details of each step presented will be taken care of by the consulting company. That way, you can go on with your life as normal and just focus on the most important parts that require your presence.