What is a B-2 visa and how do I obtain it?

In this week's Consulta Migratoria® column I answer a reader's question. Each case is different and the answers vary depending on each person's immigration history.

Here I provide general answers to your questions. Please consult with an immigration attorney to receive personalized legal advice before starting any procedure.

This is the column:

I am 23 years old and live in Guatemala with my parents. I am studying culinary arts in a gourmet cooking school. I want to apply for a visa to go on a trip to the U.S. and meet some relatives. What are the requirements I need to fill out to obtain the visa? -Michelle C.

Michelle, you will need to apply for a B-2 non-immigrant visa, commonly known as a "tourist visa," to travel to the United States.

The U.S. government grants the B-2 visa to individuals who wish to travel temporarily to the U.S. for tourism, to visit family or friends, to obtain medical treatment, among other things, as long as they believe they are eligible to receive it.

As many immigrants know, it is not easy to obtain a "tourist visa" to enter the US.

The B-2 visa generally requires that you clearly demonstrate the following:

- The reason for your trip to the USA.
- That you reside and have work, family or social ties that tie you to your country of origin. In your case, it would be to demonstrate that you live and have those ties in Guatemala.
- That all travel expenses will be covered by you or others.
- Your intention to return to your home country after your visit to the U.S.

To apply for a B-2 visa you will need to file the DS-160 form at the U.S. Embassy in Guatemala. On the day of your interview you will need to present your passport and other supporting documents.

Embassy officials may ask for a letter of support (Affidavit of Support) from your relatives in the U.S. to show that you have sufficient financial support while visiting the country.

The consular officer will review all of your documents and determine if you are eligible for a visa. If your visa application is denied, you cannot appeal the officer's decision. However, you can apply again in the future, as long as you meet the proper requirements.

It is extremely important not to lie during the B-2 visa application process. Immigration fraud is severely penalized by immigration authorities and could make you ineligible for certain immigration benefits in the future.

For more information and immigration tips, read my blog inmigracionhoy.com.

Send your questions to preguntas@consultamigratoria.com. Include detailed information about your situation to better answer your questions.

Nelson A. Castillo, Esq. is an immigration attorney and author of The Green Card: How to Obtain Permanent Residency in the United States. He is a former President of the Hispanic National Bar Association and current President of the Westlake South Neighborhood Council of Los Angeles. To contact Mr. Castillo's office, please call (213) 537-VISA (8472).