American Travel Visa Requirements and Process

Issuance of  B-1 (Business) and B-2 (Tourism) American travel visas generally require that every applicant present specific documents, complete the prescribed application process and meet a certain legal standard. As a matter of practice, the B-1 and B-2 visas are almost always issued together. American travel visa requirements and procedures may vary somewhat between consular posts.

Please note that this post is a general overview of American travel visa requirements and process. Those seeking admission to the U.S. for purposes permitted under the B-1 and B-2 visa categories may need to provide additional documentation and address varying concerns of the consular officer.

For guidance on your individual legal situation, contact The Immigration Law Office of L. Ford Banister, II today for complete American travel visa review and preparation.

Step One

Determine Visa Waiver Program Eligibility

The American Travel Visa Waiver Program (VWP), enables most citizens or nationals of participating countries to travel to the United States for tourism or business for stays of 90 days or less without first obtaining a visa. Entry to the U.S. is subject to general American travel visa requirements relating to the the purpose of travel and duration of stay.

In order to travel without a visa on the VWP, you must have authorization through the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) prior to boarding a U.S. bound air or sea carrier. ESTA is the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) automated web-based system to determine eligibility to travel without a visa to the United States for tourism or business. Visit the ESTA webpage on the CBP website for more information.

Step Two

Gather Required Documentation

Gather and prepare the following required documents before your visa interview:

  • You will need a 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. For example, if you plan to stay in the U.S. for 90 days, you passport must be valid for at least six months past the final day of your planned visit.  If more than one person is included in your passport, each person who needs a visa must submit a separate application.

  • Print out the Nonimmigrant Visa Application, Form DS-160 confirmation page. You should save this page when you complete the Form DS-160 online.

  • Application fee payment receipt. If you are required to pay before your interview, you should bring the original payment receipt. If your assigned consular post processes payments on site, verify the amount and be prepared to pay the fee prior to the interview.

  • Photo – You will upload your photo while completing the online Form DS-160. In the event that the photo upload fails, you must bring one properly printed and formatted photo.

Step Three

The Interview

  • Scheduling and Wait Times: Most visa applicants are required to attend an interview at a U.S. embassy or consulate. Wait times for interviews and processing vary by post.

  • Understand: Section 214(b) of the United States Immigration and Nationality Act requires that Consular Officers must assume that every visa applicant intends to leave his or her home country and immigrate to the United States.  The applicant must convey during the interview that this presumption of immigrant intent is not true. The Consular Officer must be convinced that the applicant:

  1. Has a home outside the United States that they will not abandon;

  2. Is visiting the United States temporarily and will leave when the stated purpose of travel is complete;

  3. Is able to pay for the trip; and

  4. Meets the requirements of the visa type for which they are applying, and/or that planned activities in the U.S. are allowed by that category.

    Interviews are usually quite short. The Consular Officer may or may not review documents that you bring in support of your application. Attorneys are generally not permitted to accompany applicants to the visa interview. Decisions of the Consular Officer who conducts the interview are not subject to appeal or judicial review outside of very narrow circumstances.

Step Four

Visa Issuance, Denial or Administrative Processing

  • Issuance: If your American travel visa application is approved, you will be informed as to how and when your passport with visa will be returned to you.

  • Denial: In the event that your American travel visa application is denied, you will, in most cases, be provided with a notice which will state the specific grounds for denial.

  • Administrative Processing: In some Cases, the Consular Officer will not issue a decision but will request additional information and/or further review the application.

Step Five

Arrival in the U.S.A.

  • Upon arrival at a U.S. port of entry, entrants to the U.S. are subject to inspection by Customs and Border Protection (“CBP”). The inspection is usually brief and consists of questions regarding the purpose of travel and inspection of travel documents. CBP has ultimate discretion in whether to permit entry to the U.S.

  • Travelers should be advised that the paper Form I-94 (record of admission), is no longer issued to travelers who enter through U.S. airports. Passports will be stamped to record the date of entry. If a traveler needs a copy of their I-94 (record of admission) for verification of alien registration, immigration status or employment authorization, it can be obtained from


This article is intended to provide a general overview of American travel visa requirements and processes. Each application is different and may present unique questions of law. Information presented in online articles is not a substitute for legal advice. Contact the Immigration Law Office of L. Ford Banister, II today to inquire about our Flat Fee American Travel Visa Preparation and Review Service Packages.