US Tourist Visa
The B2 US Tourist Visa and B1 Business Visa
If you are a Thai citizen who wants to travel to the United States for a brief visit, you need to apply for a B2 tourist visa. The B2 tourist visa is usually valid for 6 months and is intended for travel, medical tourism, and visiting relatives.
The B1 business visa is issued for business-related travel to the United States. If you are travelling to attend a conference or meet clients, a B1 business visa will be issued. B1 visas are usually valid for a short period, three months or less, just long enough to complete your business in the United States. Some business visa applicants can apply for expedited visa processing if they have urgent business to take care of.
Do not bother applying for a B2 tourist visa if you are a Thai woman with an American boyfriend. The US Embassy will be deeply suspicious, and will think you are planning on getting married in the United States. The chance that your B2 visa application will be approved is extremely low. You should apply for a K1 visa instead of a tourist visa if you plan on getting married in the United States.
Applying for a B1 US Tourist Visa or B2 Business Visa from Thailand
Unfortunately, it is extremely difficult for all Thai citizens to successfully apply for a US tourist visa. A high number of Thai tourist visa applicants have used their tourist visa to get married in the United States or illegally immigrate. Embassy officials are required to presume that Thai tourist visa applicants plan to overstay and permanently settle in the United States. Tourist visa applicants will not receive a visa unless they can convince embassy officials that they will return to Thailand after their visit. To convince the visa officer that you plan on returning to Thailand, you will need to produce evidence that you have strong economic and social ties in the community which suggest you will return.
Gathering Enough Evidence To Support Your Visa Application
To successfully apply for a B visa you need to produce documentation that shows you have enough money to finance your trip to the United States, and enough community ties in Thailand to suggest you are likely to return. There are no specific financial requirements, the visa officer conducting the interview at the embassy will make a decision based on his overall feel of your case.
How much money is enough to show you can finance your trip? It depends on how long you stay. If you plan on spending three months in the United States the visa officer will expect you to have saved more money than if you are only planning a three week trip.
How can you show that you are likely to return to Thailand? Showing significant property in Thailand, such as deeds to land or real estate or a title to a car will help your application. If you are enrolled in school or have a steady job this will also help. The longer you have had the job, the better. If you are leaving your spouse or children behind in Thailand, this will also be good evidence that you will come back. Remember to bring documentary evidence with you to your visa interview.
If you are a business visa applicant, you can show company records such as VAT receipts, business bank accounts, and loan information to prove that your company is legitimate. A website also helps. You should be able to explain to the visa officer exactly why it is so important for you to visit the United States.
There is no specific formula that will make an application successful. The decision on whether to deny or grant your visa lies with the visa officer conducting your interview at the embassy. If he believes you, he will allow you to travel to the United States. If he thinks you are hiding something or lying, he can deny your application even if you produce lots of evidence.
B1/B2 Visa Application ProcessSTEP 1: Filling Out the Form I-160 Online
The first step in the B1/B2 visa application process is filling out Form I-160 online. Form I-160 is an electronic application form and can only be completed over the internet. Paper application forms are no longer accepted. Completing the form takes more than an hour. Be sure to write down your Application ID so you can continue your application if you are disconnected or need to take a break.
The I-160 application is very thorough. Here is some of the information you will be required to provide:
- Your name and address.
- A digital photo of yourself.
- Your place of birth and the names of your parents.
- The names and addresses of any relatives that live in the United States.
- Your education history.
- Any jobs you have had in the last five years.
- A list of every foreign country you have visited in the last five years.
- All of the languages you speak.
- All charitable organisations you donate to or volunteer with.
- Any crimes or offenses you have been convicted of.
- Detailed information on your past five trips to the United States.
- The date you intend to travel to the USA and the length of your intended stay.
- Whether you are paying for the trip yourself, or whether someone else is paying.
- Your intended address in the United States.
- The name of a contact you have in the US or business you will be visiting.
When you complete your application, you must submit it online. You will get a receipt which you will need to bring to your interview at the US Embassy in Bangkok or Consulate in Chiang Mai.STEP 2: Paying the Fees and Scheduling the Embassy Interview
Once you complete and electronically submit your I-160 application form, you can schedule a visa interview at the US Embassy in Bangkok or US Consulate in Chiang Mai. There is a non-refundable $140 USD visa application fee which can be paid at a Thailand Post office. While you are at the post office, you can buy a pin number which you will need to schedule your visa appointment. Use your pin number to schedule your visa interview online or over the phone. The average wait time for a B1/B2 visa interview in Bangkok is 21 days. The average wait time in Chaing Mai is 14 days. The US State Department maintains a website where you can look average wait times in Bangkok and Chiang Mai at http://travel.state.gov/visa/temp/wait/wait_4638.html
The Embassy Interview
The final step in the B visa application proces is an interview at the US Embassy or Consulate. Arrive at least 30 minutes early, so you have time to pass through the security checkpoint. Make sure you bring your passport and any documents you gathered to support your application.
When you arrive at your interview you will submit your passport and supporting documents. An embassy employee will fingerprint you. Next you will be interviewed. The visa officer will go over your application with you and ask questions. His goal is to make sure you will leave the United States before your visa is up. Be sure to answer honestly and openly. The decision to deny or approve your visa application rests with this embassy official. You may want to practice in front of a mirror before your interview to make sure you are confident when the big day comes.
If your interview is successful and the embassy approves your visa application, buy an envelope at the Embassy's Thai Post counter so that your passport can be return to you with your new US visa inside.