Every time a foreign national applies for a visitor visa (commonly referred to as a “tourist visa”) to the United States, that person must overcome the presumption that their intention is to immigrate to the U.S.
This presumption is not always easy to overcome. Indeed, for some it is nearly impossible. Every applicant for a tourist visa to the U.S. must demonstrate the following five things:
1) The purpose of the applicant’s trip to the U.S. is only for one of the following:
a) Business (B-1 visa);
b) Pleasure, tourism or medical treatment (B-2 visa); or
c) A combination of the above (B-1/B-2);
2) The applicant plans to stay in the U.S. only for a specific, limited amount of time;
3) Evidence sufficient to convince the U.S. embassy or consulate issuing the visa that the applicant has the financial wherewithal to cover his/her expenses while in the U.S.;
4) Evidence sufficient to convince the U.S. embassy or consulate issuing the visa that the applicant has compelling social and economic ties abroad;
5) Proof that the applicant has a residence abroad, and that there are other ties abroad that bind the applicant to the point of insuring their return abroad at the end of their visit to the U.S.
How can an applicant definitively prove to the U.S. embassy or consulate that s/he meets the above requirements? The simple answer is that there is no one answer to this question. No list of documentation or evidentiary requirements exists. The U.S. Department of State states that “it is impossible specify the exact form the documentation should take since applicants’ circumstances vary greatly.”
There are, however, tried and true strategies to presenting an application for a tourist visa that have a high likelihood of ending in success. Follow the steps below to insure a high likelihood of success:
Step 1. Think about why you are going to visit the U.S. You will be creating a story for the visa officer (a true story, of course). The story will eventually come together as a clear, cohesive, and comprehensive set of facts that you will not soon forget. The story will prove beneficial to you when the time for your visa interview rolls around. Is your visit going to be for business, pleasure, or both? Be clear about the reason you are visiting. This will be the foundation of your story. For example, say to yourself, “I will be visiting the U.S. so I can see my friend. That must mean my trip is for pleasure. Okay, ‘pleasure’ is the foundation of my story.”
Step 2. Be absolutely sure about the timeframe of your visit to the U.S. Do not be in a situation where you would say something like, “I’m not really sure when I want to leave the U.S.” That situation would not be good for the story you are developing. Instead, pick a date. Pick two dates, in fact. Know your departure date and know your arrival date. Do not stray from these plans. Remember, the more confident you are in your answers to the visa officer, the more likely the visa officer will grant your tourist visa. Note that this does not mean you should go out and buy a nonrefundable roundtrip plane ticket to the U.S. That is something you can do after you have been granted your tourist visa. The visa officer will respect that.