How to Get a U.S. Tourist Visa

Si no entiendes ingles, no te preocupes – voy a traducir este articulo a espanol y subirla pronto. Saludos y suerte amigos…

Hello foreign friends. Don’t believe the hype.

Ignore the nonsense coming out of the U.S. media. Ignore the rude trolls on message boards and comment sections of immigration articles. We love you. We want you to visit our country. And we don’t mind if you spend a little money while you are here.

Popular opinion is that the U.S. government wants to make it hard for you. Immigration officers are stern. They are trained to intimidate liars, making it easier to detect their lies.

If you look at the application for a U.S. tourist visa, there are loads of questions like: Are you a terrorist? Are you a drug smuggler? Are you involved in human trafficking?

Laugh, roll your eyes or get offended, but answering these questions is one of the hoops you have to jump through. However you feel about terrorism – that it’s taken too seriously, that the U.S. deserves it, or whatever – it’s a fact that it exists and the U.S. government takes it quite seriously.

The bottom line is that if you want to take a vacation in the U.S. and you follow procedure (explicit and implied), then you have nothing to worry about.

Carefully Read and Fill Out the Application Online

Traveling to the U.S. begins with filling out the application form online. It’s in English, but if you can understand this article, then you can do the application.

Expect to spend between one and two hours reading the instructions and doing the application. Take your time, read everything and be sure you understand it all.

Start here to fill out the application. Notice how you must choose the country from which you will apply.

Depending on your country, you may have to go to one or two appointments. For example, in Mexico, first you have to go to one agency for your photographs and fingerprints, and then you go to the U.S. consulate for your interview.

Write down the application ID number that they give you on the first page. You will need it to retrieve your application in case something happens to your Internet connection.

A few pages of personal information follow. When you reach the page where it asks you for what type of visa, choose the B2 visa. It may say tourism/medical travel, or something with tourism in it. Just make sure it is the B2. The B1 is for business.

Some information you will need for the application are: Your parents’ full names and dates of birth; the address of your destination in the U.S. (if you don’t have one, just put in the name of any hotel. Having reservations isn’t necessary); and a contact person who lives in the U.S. If you don’t know anyone there, find someone. Ask family and friends for the name of a family or friend. You’ll find someone.

And you need a passport, of course.

Be certain that you have no mistakes. Check and double check.

You will submit the application online. Then you must follow the instructions for how to make an appointment at the U.S. consulate, if necessary. If not, you may have to mail them your passport.

Print Bank Statements

It may not be obvious on the list of requirements, but it is a good idea to demonstrate that you have sufficient funds for your stay. Print three or more months of bank statements. You should have 1,000 U.S. dollars for each month you plan to stay in the U.S.

If you don’t have enough money, print a relative’s bank statement and have that relative write a letter stating that they plan to support you financially during your trip.

Prove That You Have a Reason to Go Home

This is what the embassy websites won’t tell you – that your chances of acceptance improve greatly when you can demonstrate that you have ties back home that prevent you from overstaying.

The big four are a job, a school, a family, or property.

If you work, get a letter from your boss, on company letterhead, stating when you are expected back to work. If you are going to quit, try to get that letter anyway.

If you study, get a letter from the school on official letterhead stating when you will be returning to school.

If you don’t have a job or go to school, a deed of your house, a copy of a payment on a mortgage, or a rent certificate is helpful. Or write an official looking letter stating your family situation and that after your vacation you have a family to return to and take care of.

Don’t Lie in Your Interview

Even innocent people are intimidated by authority. They make you feel guilty, even when you are innocent.

Because of this, you may be tempted to lie about some small detail. You may do it accidentally. Don’t. Immigration officers are trained to detect liars and suspicious people.

That said – and of course I absolutely do not recommend lying for any reason – there may be something you feel you have to lie about. Perhaps you have a family member living in the U.S. illegally and you don’t want to mention that person. Maybe you don’t have specific travel plans, but you need to create some.

Be very careful. One lie will require more lies, and then finally your lies will run away from you. This is your biggest threat for being rejected. And your application won’t only be rejected, but you may be barred from entering the U.S. for 10 years or forever.

If you are nervous, if there is something you don’t want to mention, then practice with a friend. Get your story straight. Don’t lie about superfluous things.

And if you are a terrorist, reading this article as part of your insane research, why not go take a walk outside? Smell the flowers. Feel the sunshine. Do you really want to kill innocent people?

Please don’t.


About Ted Campbell

U.S.-Canadian writer, translator and university teacher in Mexico. Travel stories and practical tips on my blog No Hay Bronca: Twitter: @NoHayBroncaBlog // Contact: nohaybroncablog (at)

Posted on June 12, 2013, in immigration, Travel and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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