No country, in modern times, has captured our imagination as much as America has. Specifically, North America. Times Square, the Grand Canyon, Statue of Liberty, Disneyland… the list is endless. If you’re not looking at tourist sites, then chances are you’re either visiting family or friends, plan to study there or have a temporary work assignment to complete.
Regardless of the reason, to visit the United States of America, you need a visa. The trouble comes when you realize there are a multitude of American visas, each with its own purpose and each with its own criteria.
In recent years, the visa process has become more stringent. New measures have been put in place that are just a few months old. As such, before you plan a trip or assignment, its important to know which visa you need to apply for, based on the objective of your trip.
Tourist or Business Visas for America
Types of Visa
B-1: This visa is specifically for short-term business trips to America.
B-2: This visa covers an informal trip as well as a medical trip for treatment.
If you’re looking to visit the US to conduct short-term business, the B-1 non-immigrant visa is the one you should apply for. There are some conditions with this visa. The business transaction should not involve actual labour work, nor should it involve payments from a US source. If you are planning to attend a conference or convention, negotiating a contact, attend business meetings or similar events, then B-1 is the visa for you.
B-2 visas are what you need to apply for, if your trip is for pleasure or due to medical reasons. These include reasons like touring the country, meeting with family and friends, any service activities or to seek treatment.
These two visas are often clubbed together and issued as one. The overarching criteria of this trip is the duration – you need to let the consulate know that your trip is limited. This is a temporary trip. You will also need to show them that you have the necessary funds to pay for your trip expenses. If you cannot do a spur-of-the-moment trip in the US, save up for the trip using the Thomas Cook Holiday Savings Account.
It is a common saying – forewarned is forearmed. In the application process for the US visa, you need to be prepared. The visa application process can seem intimidating, but with a little preparation from Thomas Cook you can easily navigate this process.
Do note, that the questions cover the topic of US sponsorship. Scroll down for more details on US sponsored trips.
The questions in the application process will cover the following points:
- The purpose of travel
- Any previous trips to the US
- Family in the US
- Your trip sponsor*
- Where you will be staying – the full address
- What does your sponsor do, where did they study, etc.? Including the full financial details.
- Travelling with a spouse? Or alone?
- The time of your visit
- Your reason for travelling at that time
- What do you plan to do and where will you visit?
- Have you booked your tickets?
- Have you arranged for medical insurance?
- A brief estimate of your trip budget
- Have travelled abroad before?
- The duration of the trip and the justification for the duration (if your trip extends to 6 months for e.g.)
- Your reason for returning to India
- When did your sponsor last visit India?
- Your Indian address
- Job profile – company name, address and annual income
- Funding for the trip
- For businessmen – who will handle your responsibilities in your absence
- For retired applicants – pension details
- Credit card details
- Are you looking for job opportunities in the US?
- Family details – number of children, age and date of birth
In order to have a successful visa interview, it is important to start with your application form. Bear in mind that your answers in the interview must be aligned with what you wrote on your form. The form also gives you an opportunity to figure out your reasons for taking the trip – it will give you the confidence that you need when answering questions. The visa interviewer will also keep your form in front of him and will refer to your answers during the interview.
The consulate will assess your mental and physical health. They will also be looking at your level of composure, your body language and your attire. Make sure you sit up straight, keep your answers crisp and to the point. Being prepared helps eliminate any last-minute panic or hesitation when these topics come up. These little tips will make it easier to have a successful visa interview.
Who is a sponsor?
We’ve mentioned the term “sponsor” in the application topics, but what does that mean? A sponsor is a resident of the US, who can invite his/her friends, parents and relatives to visit the US. They will be responsible for all the expenses of your trip to the US.
How does sponsorship help?
The greatest advantage of the sponsorship program is that it can increase your chances to obtain a visa to the US. This is for 2 reasons. Firstly, sponsorship is a sign that all your expenses will be covered by a US resident who is well aware of the expenses in the country. Secondly, the consulate can easily reach out to the sponsor, in case of any emergency.
What does the sponsorship process involve?
The sponsorship process requires your sponsor to provide certain documents, like the Affidavit of Support Form I-134, a letter of invitation and the financial documents to prove they can support the visitor.
Is it Mandatory?
The sponsorship program is not mandatory for a tourist visa. If you are able to cover all the expenses of your trip, have a clear idea of the purpose of your trip and provide the right answers for your form and visa interview, you don’t need the added benefit of having a sponsor.
Also, your application will be judged on different criteria. Sponsorship is one more way to be considered eligible to visit the US.
Benefits of a B-1 and B-2 Visas
The B-1 and B-2 visas are the easiest visas to apply for and come with a host of benefits. Check out the list below.
Simplicity: The American visa process can be intricate and seem complicated. However, the B-1 and B-2 visas are the perfect visas to visit the US with. The application process can seem lengthy, but it is simple and straightforward.
The American Neighbours: When you apply for the B visa, you can visit both Mexico and Canada for at least 30 days during your trip. However, you must return to the US by the given time. The dates of these trips will be entered into you I-94 form when you enter the US.
Short-term trips: Many people plan month long (and more) trips to the US. However, if you’re looking to attend a short conference or convention, this visa enables you to do that.
Extend your trip: Life can be uncertain. Despite your best intentions, you might need to extend your trip due to an emergency. Many American visas do not allow extensions and you will be expected to leave when your trip comes to an end. However, on a B visa you can extend your trip for 6 months if the situation requires it.
How can Thomas Cook help?
At Thomas Cook, we understand that your plans begin once the worry of the visa is lifted from your mind, which is why our visa process is as smooth as possible. It now takes 4 simple steps on your part to get your visa through Thomas Cook.
One of our greatest advantages is the ease of the entire process. You can now apply for your visa online – skipping many cumbersome steps.
4 easy steps to get your visa with Thomas Cook
- Fill in the necessary visa details and receive your quote
- You can pay for your visa by using net banking, credit card or debit card
- Thomas Cook gives you the choice of submitting your documents online or visiting the closest branch to drop them off
- We ensure that you stay updated throughout the entire process until you receive your visa
What benefits do you get with Thomas Cook?
- We handle end-to-end visa facilitation. Which means we are with you for the entire visa application journey!
- We’ll help facilitate the process of booking your appointment with the embassy or consulate.
- Our customer care experts can help guide you or answer any questions you might have, making the entire process smoother
- With Thomas Cook, you get real-time updates on the progress of your visa and you can also track its progress
- You’ll save money, energy and time by booking your visa online with Thomas Cook
- We ensure that our process is safe, secure and confidential. At the same time, we ensure that the process is entirely transparent with you – the visa applicant.
Check out the details of Visas and have an incredible journey in the U.S.