Forms & Documents Needed for a B-1 or B-2 Visitor Visa

For a U.S. visitor visa, you must not only fill out a form, but gather your own, personalized evidence to show that you're likely to comply with the terms of your visa and leave the U.S. when you're supposed to.

When applying for a B-1 or B-2 visitor visa, you will need to fill out a few government forms as well as collect various documents. The most critical form, called DS-160, can be completed only online. You will bring the remaining documents and forms with you to your visa interview at a U.S. embassy or consulate.

(If you need information about the eligibility requirements for a B visa, see How to Get a B-1 or B-2 Visitor Visa.)

List of Forms and Documents People Seeking Visitor Visas Must Prepare

Your B visa application should consist of the items listed below.

Form DS-160, Nonimmigrant Visa Application. After filling it out online at the DS-160 page of the State Department website, you'll have to print out a page with a bar code, and bring that to your consular interview.

MRV fee receipt. This will show that you have paid the relevant machine-readable visa (MRV) application fee at a nearby financial institution ($160 in 2021). The financial institution at which you must pay depends on the country; check the website of the U.S. consulate where you plan to apply for your visa in order to learn where to pay your fee in advance. Most consulates will not allow you to pay the visa fee at the time of the interview.

Visa reciprocity fee. You might have to pay an additional fee if you're from a country that charges similar fees for visas to U.S. citizens.

Your passport. This must remain valid (not expire) for at least six months after the end of your intended stay in the United States.

One photo of you. This must be passport-style, and measure 2 inches x 2 inches. Go to a professional photographer, who will know how to follow all the required photo specifications to satisfy U.S. rules.

Documents showing the purpose of your trip. For example, you might include a written itinerary and proof of hotel arrangements. Within these documents should be evidence of your intent to depart the United States at the end of your stay, such as a plane ticket home.

Employer letter if applying for B-1 visa. If you are coming to the U.S. on business, bring a letter from your foreign employer describing your job and explaining what you will be doing for it during your U.S. trip. The letter should state that you will be paid only from sources outside the U.S., along with a date when you will be expected to return from your trip. If you'll be attending a trade show or similar business event, bring promotional materials, flyers, and proof that you are registered for it.

Reasons that you'll return to your home country. Include proof of any ownership of real estate (such as a title deed), relationships with close family members staying behind (such as birth or marriage certificates), and that a job will be waiting for you on your return (such as a letter from your employer). The idea is to show that your ties to home is so strong that you would never overstay your U.S. visa and have a genuine intent to leave.

Proof of ability to cover your expenses while in the United States. You must convince the U.S. consular officer that once you arrive in the U.S., you are not going to seek employment or go on public welfare. Depending on your situation, this might include:

  • Form I-134, Affidavit of Support from a U.S. friend or relative (see more below).
  • Letter from a friend or relative inviting you to visit, stating you are welcome to stay with him or her (see this sample letter).
  • Bank statements showing your accessible cash.
  • Personal financial statements.
  • Evidence of your current sources of income (pay stubs and an employer letter).

Understanding Form I-134

One of the items on the list above requires more explanation: USCIS Form I-134, the "Affidavit of Support." It can be submitted to show that someone in the United States is willing to take financial responsibility for you.

There is a different Affidavit of Support also available from USCIS, Form I-864, which contains much stricter legal requirements. It is not meant for nonimmigrant visas, so don't use it. If possible, the person you will be visiting in the U.S. should sign Form I‑134 on your behalf. That person must be a U.S. citizen or green card holder, or have some other long-term legal immigration status in the U.S., such as refugee or asylee.

If you can prove that you are financially independent or are employed in your home country, you don't need a Form I-134. When you request someone in the U.S. to sign an I-134 Affidavit of Support, he or she will doubtless wish to know the legal extent of the financial obligation. In signing the I-134, the person does not promise to support you. Instead, the person signing promises to repay the U.S. government for the total of any government support payments you might receive. The Affidavit of Support supposedly binds your relative to this obligation for three years, though most lawyers believe the form is flawed and no court would enforce it.

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