B-2 Visitors for Pleasure
Written by Henry J. Chang
A B-2 visitor is defined by § 101(a)(15)(B) of the Immigration and Nationality Act ("INA") as follows:
an alien (other than one coming for the purpose of study or of performing skilled or unskilled labor or as a representative of foreign press, radio, film, or other foreign information media coming to engage in such vocation) having a residence in a foreign country which he has no intention of abandoning and who is visiting the United States ... temporarily for pleasure.
The term "pleasure" has been defined by the Department of State ("DOS") as "legitimate activities of a recreational character, including tourism, amusement, visits with friends or relatives, rest, medical treatment, and activities of a fraternal, social, or service nature." Participation in conferences with fraternal, social, or service organizations would also be considered a proper B-2 activity. Visitors for pleasure may not engage in employment.
In order to qualify for B-2 status, the following requirements must be satisfied:
Specifically Permitted Activities
- The alien has a foreign residence that he or she has no intention of abandoning;
- The alien is entering the United States for a temporary visit;
- The alienís purpose of the visit is for pleasure; and
- The alien has sufficient funds to support himself or herself without resorting to unauthorized employment.
The former Immigration and Naturalization Service ("INS") and the DOS each published lists of activities which are acceptable for B-1 purposes. If the proposed activity is specifically mentioned on one of these lists, it is relatively easy to argue eligibility for B-1 status. Conversely, if the proposed activity is not specifically mentioned on one of the lists, it is very difficult to argue eligibility for B-1 status. These lists are reproduced below.
A non-exhaustive list of permitted B-2 activities appears in Notes 10 and 11 to §41.31 of the DOS Foreign Affairs Manual ("FAM") , the manual used by United States consulates located abroad. The list is reproduced below:
N10.--Aliens Coming to the United States as Visitors for Pleasure.
Aliens who wish to enter the United States temporarily for pleasure, and who are otherwise eligible to receive visas, may be classifiable as nonimmigrant B-2 visitors provided they meet the criteria listed below.
N10.1.--Tourism or Family Visits.
Aliens travelling to the United States for purposes of tourism or to make social visits to relatives or friends.
Aliens coming for health purposes. [See 22 CFR 40.7(a)(1-6) and 22 CFR 40.7(a)(15).]
N10.3.--Participation in Social Events.
Aliens participating in conventions, conferences or convocation of fraternal, social or service organizations.
N10.4.--Armed Forces Dependents.
Alien dependents of an alien member of any branch of the United States Armed Forces temporarily assigned for duty in the United States.
N10.5.--Dependents of Crewmen.
Alien dependents of category ``D'' visa crewmen who are coming to the United States solely for the purpose of accompanying the principal alien.
N10.6.--Short Course of Study.
Aliens coming to the United States primarily for tourism who also will incidentally engage in a short course of study during their visit. Insert the notation: ``Study incidental to visit; I-20 not required'' immediately below the visa stamp.
N10.7.--Amateur Entertainers and Athletes.
A person who is an amateur in an entertainment or athletic activity is, by definition, not a member of any of the professions associated with that activity. Thus, an amateur (or group of amateurs) who will not be paid for performances and will perform in a social and/or charitable context or as a competitor in a talent show, contest or athletic event is eligible for B-2 classification, even if the incidental expenses associated with the visit are reimbursed.
N11.--Aliens Classifiable B-2 Visitors Under Special Circumstances.
The following classes of aliens may be classified B-2 visitors under the following special circumstances.
N11.1-1.--Fiance(e) of U.S. Citizen or Permanent Resident Alien.
An alien proceeding to the United States to marry a U.S. citizen is classifiable K-1 as a nonimmigrant under INA 101(a)(15)(K). [See 22 CFR 41.81.] The prospective spouse of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident may, however, be classified B-2 visitor in cases where the consular officer is satisfied that the fiance(e) intends to return to a residence abroad soon after the marriage. A B-2 visa may also be issued to an alien coming to the United States:
N11.1-2.--Fiance(e) of Nonimmigrant Alien in the U.S.
Fiance(e)s who establish a residence abroad to which they intend to return, and who are otherwise qualified to receive visas, would be eligible for B-2 visas if the purpose of the visit is to marry a nonimmigrant alien in the United States in a valid nonimmigrant F, H, J, L or M status. The consular shall advise the fiance(e) to apply, soon after the marriage, to the nearest office of Immigration and Naturalization Service to request a change in nonimmigrant status to that of the alien spouse.
A spouse married by proxy to an alien in the United States in a nonimmigrant status may be issued a visitor visa in order to join the spouse already in the United States. Upon arrival in the United States the joining spouse must apply to the INS for permission to adjust to the appropriate derivative status after consummation of the marriage.
N11.3.--Spouse or Child of U.S. Citizen or Resident Alien.
An alien spouse or child, including an adopted alien child, of a United States citizen or resident alien may be classified as a nonimmigrant B-2 visitor if the purpose of the travel is to accompany the spouse or parent for a temporary visit.
N11.4.--Derivative Status not Available to Certain Dependents of Nonimmigrants.
Dependents of nonimmigrants who are not entitled to derivative status as in the case of an elderly parent of an E-1 alien or a spouse or child of a principal alien classified H already in possession of a valid B-2 visa for whom it may be inconvenient or impossible to apply for the proper H-4 may be issued B-2 visas. Such dependents, however, must be instructed to request consideration from INS for a 1 year stay upon arrival in the United States. Extensions of stay for the maximum allowable time may also be requested for the duration of the principal alien's nonimmigrant status in the United States.
N11.5.--Aliens Seeking Naturalization Under INA 329.
An alien who is entitled to the benefits of Section 329 and who seeks to enter the United States to take advantage of such benefits may be classified B-2 without having to meet the foreign residence abroad requirement of INA 101(a)(15)(B).
N11.6.--Dependents of Alien Members of U.S. Armed Forces Eliglible for Naturalization under INA 328.
- Simply to meet the fiance(e)'s family;
- To become engaged;
- To make arrangements for the wedding;
- To renew a relationship with the prospective spouse; provided the consular officer is satisfied the fiance(e) intends to return to his or her residence abroad.
N11.7.--Aliens Destined to an Avocational or Recreational School.
Aliens destined to a school which is avocational or recreational in character. An alien enrolling in such a school may be classified B-2 if the purpose of attendance is recreational or avocational. When the nature of a school's program is difficult to determine, the consular officer shall request the INS for the proper classification of the program and whether approval of Form I-20, Certificate of Eligibility, will be more appropriate.
N12.--Lawful Permanent Resident Issued Nonimmigrant Visitor Visa for Emergency Temporary Visit to the United States.
A lawful permanent resident may, in some cases, need to get a visa more quickly than obtaining a returning resident visa would permit. For example: a permanent resident alien employed by an American corporation is temporarily assigned abroad but has necessarily remained more than 1 year and may not use Form I-151 or Form I-551 in order to travel to the United States for an urgent conference and then return abroad. The alien has never relinquished permanent residence, has continued to pay U.S. income taxes, and perhaps even maintains a home in the United States. The alien may be issued a nonimmigrant visa for this purpose and Form I-151 or Form I-551 need not be surrendered. The relinquishment of either of these forms shall not be required as a condition precedent to the issuance of either an immigrant or nonimmigrant visa unless INS has requested such action.
- Alien dependents of an alien member of the U.S. Armed Forces who qualifies for naturalization under INA 328 and whose primary intent is to accompany the spouse or parent on the service member's assignment to the United States. The further possibility of adjustment of status need not necessitate a ``denial of visa'' under INA 214(b). A dependent of an alien service member who is refused a visa under INA 214(b) as an intending immigrant must be referred to the INS office having jurisdiction over the dependent's place of residence for parole consideration under INS 212(d)(5).
- Since the purpose of parole in these cases is to serve humanitarian interests it is not appropriate for an alien dependent to seek parole from INS to enter the United States while the service member served a tour of duty outside the United States. [See 8 CFR 212.6(e).]
The INS Inspectors Field Manual ("IFM") also provides a non-exhaustive list of specifically permitted B-2 activities at IFM §15.4(b)(2). It states that, if otherwise admissible, admit the following as B-2:
- An alien coming for purposes of tourism or to make social visits to relatives or friends;
- An alien coming for health purposes;
- An alien coming to participate in conventions, conferences, or convocations of fraternal, social or service organizations;
- An alien coming primarily for tourism who also incidentally will engage in a short course of study;
- An amateur coming to engage in an amateur entertainment or athletic activity, even if the incidental expenses associated with the visit are reimbursed;
- A dependent of an alien member of any branch of the U.S. Armed Forces temporarily assigned to duty in the United States;
- A dependent of a category "D" visa crewman who is coming to the U.S. solely for the purpose of accompanying the principal alien;
- An alien spouse or child, including an adopted alien child, of a U.S. citizen or resident alien, if the purpose of the visit is to accompany or follow to join the spouse or parent for a temporary visit;
- A dependent of a nonimmigrant who is not entitled to derivative status, such as in the case of an elderly parent of an E-1 alien;
- An alien coming to marry a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident with the intent to return to a residence abroad soon after the marriage;
- An alien coming to meet the alien's fiancť(e)'s family (to become engaged; to make arrangements for a wedding; or to renew a relationship with the prospective spouse);
- A spouse married by proxy to an alien in the U.S. in a nonimmigrant status who will apply for a change of status after consummation of the marriage;
- An alien who is entitled to the benefits of section 329 of the Act (Naturalization) and who seeks to take advantage of such benefits irrespective of the foreign residence abroad requirement of section 101(a)(15)(B);
- A dependent of an alien member of the U.S. Armed Forces who qualifies for naturalization under section 328 of the Act and whose primary intent is to accompany the spouse or parent on the service member's assignment to the United States;
- An alien destined to attend courses for recreational purposes; or
- An alien seeking to enter the U.S. in emergent circumstances, when he or she is otherwise entitled to lawful permanent resident status. For example: a permanent resident alien employed by a U.S. corporation is temporarily assigned abroad but has necessarily remained more than 1 year and may not use Form I-551 in order to travel to the U.S. for an emergency and then return abroad. The alien has never relinquished permanent residence, has continued to pay U.S. income taxes, and perhaps even maintains a home in the United States. The alien may be issued a nonimmigrant visa for this purpose and Form I-551 need not be surrendered.
The documentation submitted in a B-2 application should demonstrate the temporariness of the trip, an intention to return to an unabandoned foreign residence and financial ability to support oneself during the period of stay requested. This may include the following:
- Ownership or lease documents for the alienís residence in the home country;
- Evidence of work, studies, or activities to be resumed upon the alienís return to the home country;
- Evidence of family members left behind in the home country;
- Evidence of other businesses or holdings in the home country;
- Documentation of the temporariness of the visit;
- A round-trip ticket;
- A travel itinerary;
- Evidence that the alien will be re-admitted to Canada after the trip (if that is where the alien intends to return);
- A letter from friends, relatives or others in the United States inviting the alien and detailing the length and purpose of the stay (an immigrant visa appointment letter from the Canadian consulate is necessary if that is the purpose of the alienís entry); and
- Bank records or other documents, showing money on hand that demonstrates the alien's ability to afford the trip.