Pleasure, Tourism or Medical Treatment – Visitor Visa (B2)
People entering the U.S. first need to get a visa. A visa allows the visa holder to travel to a port of entry in the United States and request the immigration officials permission to enter the country. The visa could be a non-immigrant visa if the person intends to stay in the U.S. temporarily. An immigrant visa is for persons who intend to live and work permanently in the U.S.
The B-2 Tourist Visa is a non-immigrant visa meant for persons entering the U.S. for pleasure or medical treatment. The B-2 visa is commonly referred to as a tourist visa. Persons wanting to enter the U.S. temporarily for business purposes need the B-1 Business Visa.
Persons on a B-2 visa are not allowed to study or work during their stay in the U.S. In certain cases, tourist visa holders can participate in courses which are recreational and not credit based. These courses should be for no longer than 18 hours per week. An example would be a tourist attending a dance workshop for two days while on a visit for purely tourism purposes; no credits are earned and the learning was for recreational purposes.
However, it is always advisable that the person check with their consulate and the school if the visa could be used for such study. Persons traveling to the U.S. to attend courses or conferences and seminars to earn credits towards a degree need student visas.
The B-2 visa category does not have a corresponding dependent visa category. Dependents accompanying B-2 visa holders will have to qualify on their own basis for a B visa. The B-2 visa can be used by dependents of certain other non-immigrant visa holders.
You should apply for a Visitor visa (B-2) if the purpose of your trip falls into any of the following categories:
Visits with friends or relatives
Attending a social event or concert
Participation in an amateur sporting or musical events or similar where no payment will be received
Attending a recreational course whilst on vacation e.g. a cookery or painting course. The course cannot count as a credit towards a degree and it must be less than 18 hours per week