Tourist visas for the United States: price, requirements, duration and how to apply for them

Temporary visitors traveling to the United States are the largest group of migrants. Among the most common nonimmigrant visas is the B-1 and B-2, visas issued to travelers coming to the U.S. for business (B-1) or tourism (B-2) or a combination of both.

In 2019, the U.S. government issued 5,297,439 B-1 and B-2 visas, a figure that dropped to 2,164,021 in 2020 because of the suspension of visa services in the face of the covid-19 pandemic, according to State Department figures.

Applicants for B1 and B2 visas must demonstrate their intention to enter the country on a temporary basis, prove that they have the necessary economic funds to cover the costs of their trip, and must prove that they have social and economic ties in their country of origin to guarantee their return.

Here is how to apply for your temporary visitor visa to enter the United States.

How to apply for a visa (procedure)

The first thing you need to apply for a B1/B2 visa is a valid passport.

The second thing is to fill out the DS-160 application. This application takes approximately 90 minutes and you will need to have the following information at hand:
  • Personal information: name, date of birth, passport information, official identification, current residence address, email, phone and social media.
  • Travel itinerary: arrival and departure dates, flights, address where you will be staying and purpose of the trip.
  • Details of your companions: name and list of your companions.
  • Previous travel information: dates of entry and departure to the USA.
  • Contact in the U.S.: name, relationship and contact if you are related to anyone living in the U.S.
  • Family information: name, date of birth and address of your mother, father, spouse and children. You must also indicate if you have family in the U.S.
  • Education and work: name, address and contact information of your current and past employers. The same information about your schooling is requested.
  • Security Questionnaire.
  • Information about the type of visa you are applying for.
Once you have finished filling out the application, you will need to print the confirmation sheet with the barcode.

Cost of visa

The cost of a B1/B2 visa is currently US$ 160, but will increase as of May 30 to US$ 185. The cost for children under 15 years of age is US$ 15, which will expire in 10 years or when the child turns 15.

Schedule an appointment at the embassy or consulate.

Sometimes the applicant will be asked to upload a photo as part of the DS-160 application process. However, most will be required to schedule an appointment at the Centro De Atención a Solicitantes (CAS) which they must attend prior to their consular appointment. The CAS will take the applicant's biometric information (photo and fingerprints).

The appointment at the CAS and at the consulate can be made by telephone or online (see here for Mexico, Colombia, Argentina).

Documentation for the interview

On the day of the interview the applicant must bring the following documents to the consulate or embassy:
  • Valid passport or previously issued passports.
  • Confirmation page of the DS-160 application with bar code.
  • Receipt of payment of the visa application.
Minors must bring a recent (taken within the last six months) passport-size photograph with a white background.

After the interview

If the visa is approved, it will be delivered via courier within 3 to 4 weeks.