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  #1  
Old 23 Apr 2013
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B2 Visa questions. How long can I spend in the USA?

Hi all,

I am planning a trip to North and Central America for later in the year and have a few questions regarding the time limits on the B2 visa. I have read a few conflicting opinions and so there’s a few aspects that I’m uncertain about.

The plan for the trip is for use to ship our truck to Brunswick (Georgia) in October or November, and spend about 2 months travelling South West to Mexico. We then want to spend about 3 months travelling around Mexico, possibly heading further south into Guatemala, and possibly as far as Costa Rica. We would then return up to Baja and re-enter USA, we would like to spend another 4 months on this leg of the trip driving north up the West Coast and going inland as far as Colorado, up to Washington State to enter Canada near Vancouver. We then plan to spend the last 3 months of the trip driving East across Canada, dropping back into the USA before the great lakes and driving up the East Coast to Halifax from where will ship home.

I am aware of the difficulties getting a B2 visa but I feel I have as good a case as is possible (own a house, have a long term job on hold to go back to, have family in the UK, and will have about £30k in the bank). My confusion is on how long I can spend in the USA.

1. As far as I understand it, the embassy in London will issue my visa for up to 10 years, but have no say on how long I will be allowed to stay when I arrive in the USA. Is this correct?

2. I am also aware that when most people arrive in the USA, the immigration authority will set a limit on how long you are allowed to stay, usually between 3 and 6 months. Is this also correct?

3. What I don’t know is how the 6 month limit is defined, and how easy it is to extend. If I was limited to 6 months when I arrived in Brunswick, would this stop when I enter Mexico? If it pauses, does the 6 month limit refresh when I re-enter at Baja, or will I then only have 4 months to make my way up to Canada? If it doesn’t pause when I enter Mexico, will I then only have 1 month to travel up to Canada unless I can agree an extension?

4. Is it possible to agree a stay of longer than 6 months in the first instance when I arrive at Brunswick, if my circumstances are acceptable to the immigrations people? What would my circumstances need to be? Presumably adequate funds are part of it? If I did agree a stay of 12 months, would I still be entitled to this when I re-enter USA from Mexico, or would I have to restart my negotiations?

5. Presuming the worst case and I only have a month of travel left when I renter USA in Baja, what are my chances of being able to extend by stay once in the USA to allow me more time to travel up to Canada.

6. Presuming once I have got to Canada I am at the end of my allowed stay in the USA, would I be correct in assuming that I would be unlikely to be allowed back into the USA when I get to Minnesota or thereabouts? How long does the USA like you to leave their country for, before being allowed back in? Is the 6 month stay, limited to 6 months per year, or is it more flexible than that?

My apologies for the multiple questions; here’s hoping that there is someone here with a better understanding of USA immigrations law than me!

Thanks for any help,

Regards

Nick
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  #2  
Old 24 Apr 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nickdisjunkt View Post
Hi all,

I am planning a trip to North and Central America for later in the year and have a few questions regarding the time limits on the B2 visa. I have read a few conflicting opinions and so there’s a few aspects that I’m uncertain about.

The plan for the trip is for use to ship our truck to Brunswick (Georgia) in October or November, and spend about 2 months travelling South West to Mexico. We then want to spend about 3 months travelling around Mexico, possibly heading further south into Guatemala, and possibly as far as Costa Rica. We would then return up to Baja and re-enter USA, we would like to spend another 4 months on this leg of the trip driving north up the West Coast and going inland as far as Colorado, up to Washington State to enter Canada near Vancouver. We then plan to spend the last 3 months of the trip driving East across Canada, dropping back into the USA before the great lakes and driving up the East Coast to Halifax from where will ship home.

I am aware of the difficulties getting a B2 visa but I feel I have as good a case as is possible (own a house, have a long term job on hold to go back to, have family in the UK, and will have about £30k in the bank). My confusion is on how long I can spend in the USA.

1. As far as I understand it, the embassy in London will issue my visa for up to 10 years, but have no say on how long I will be allowed to stay when I arrive in the USA. Is this correct?

2. I am also aware that when most people arrive in the USA, the immigration authority will set a limit on how long you are allowed to stay, usually between 3 and 6 months. Is this also correct?

3. What I don’t know is how the 6 month limit is defined, and how easy it is to extend. If I was limited to 6 months when I arrived in Brunswick, would this stop when I enter Mexico? If it pauses, does the 6 month limit refresh when I re-enter at Baja, or will I then only have 4 months to make my way up to Canada? If it doesn’t pause when I enter Mexico, will I then only have 1 month to travel up to Canada unless I can agree an extension?

4. Is it possible to agree a stay of longer than 6 months in the first instance when I arrive at Brunswick, if my circumstances are acceptable to the immigrations people? What would my circumstances need to be? Presumably adequate funds are part of it? If I did agree a stay of 12 months, would I still be entitled to this when I re-enter USA from Mexico, or would I have to restart my negotiations?

5. Presuming the worst case and I only have a month of travel left when I renter USA in Baja, what are my chances of being able to extend by stay once in the USA to allow me more time to travel up to Canada.

6. Presuming once I have got to Canada I am at the end of my allowed stay in the USA, would I be correct in assuming that I would be unlikely to be allowed back into the USA when I get to Minnesota or thereabouts? How long does the USA like you to leave their country for, before being allowed back in? Is the 6 month stay, limited to 6 months per year, or is it more flexible than that?

My apologies for the multiple questions; here’s hoping that there is someone here with a better understanding of USA immigrations law than me!

Thanks for any help,

Regards

Nick
Yes, it can be confusing, and it may well be worth asking someone at the Embassy. The number will be on the website. When my wife and I wanted a B2 back in 2007 we asked them a lot of questions and they were most helpful.

Your evidence listed should be good enough.

We asked for 4 months, and were given a 6 month entry visa (valid for 10 years). This means we can enter the USA on a one way ticket.

As far as I understand it they will restart the clock when you leave the USA and enter Mexico (unlike the 90 Visa). However, we we crossed into Canada from the USA in 2007 they did not record us leaving, nor re-entering. They just looked at the visa and waved us through.

I've since used it again, entering from Canada and leaving at Mexico. They recorded us entering and only recorded us leaving when I insisted they take the paper work off us. They would have waved us through.

But definitely ask all these questions of the embassy.
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  #3  
Old 25 Apr 2013
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Hello
When you enter on a B2 you have to fill in a Immigration card which will remain in your passport until you hand it back when leaving.
If you leave by air the airline will collect it not the immigration.
If you leave by land there is no one who collects it, you are suposed to send it back by mail.
You get 6 month stamped in your passport and the Immigration card.
When reentering the USA within those 6 month and you still have the Immigration card it goes on.
I left the USA by land to Mexico and returned by air to JFK with a few days left on my visa, but just in case I filled in a new Immigration card, my old was still in my passport and valid for my intended stay.
I tried to show the Immigration officer the old one and said that I've made a new one,just in case, but before I could end the sentence ,he just stamped the new one with another 6 month, giving me a total of almost 12 month in a row.
When I left ,I handed over 2 Immigration cards to the woman at the airline who looked a bit confused but took them without asking.
The USA are such a police state to enter, but they coudn't care less how or who leaves the country ::
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Old 25 Apr 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nickdisjunkt View Post
1. As far as I understand it, the embassy in London will issue my visa for up to 10 years, but have no say on how long I will be allowed to stay when I arrive in the USA. Is this correct?
Yes
Quote:
2. I am also aware that when most people arrive in the USA, the immigration authority will set a limit on how long you are allowed to stay, usually between 3 and 6 months. Is this also correct?
Yes - but 6 months normal - when I re-entered last month, they were prepared give me more time, but this was my second entry. You will fill in an I-94 when you arrive.
Quote:
3. What I don’t know is how the 6 month limit is defined, and how easy it is to extend. If I was limited to 6 months when I arrived in Brunswick, would this stop when I enter Mexico? If it pauses, does the 6 month limit refresh when I re-enter at Baja, or will I then only have 4 months to make my way up to Canada? If it doesn’t pause when I enter Mexico, will I then only have 1 month to travel up to Canada unless I can agree an extension?
It doesn't pause, extensions are possible and if you leave for longer than 30 days you need to do another I-94, less than 30 days is like you never left at all, TwoMotoKiwis needed to pay a small fee when they came back in after their big stack - PM Andy and he will tell what the process was
Quote:
4. Is it possible to agree a stay of longer than 6 months in the first instance when I arrive at Brunswick, if my circumstances are acceptable to the immigrations people? What would my circumstances need to be? Presumably adequate funds are part of it? If I did agree a stay of 12 months, would I still be entitled to this when I re-enter USA from Mexico, or would I have to restart my negotiations?
You need to ask, I found flying in from Australia to Honolulu they were prepared to give me more time, but was my second entry (third if you going to Mexico for 2 weeks. They were the ones who explained the 30 day thing to me.
Quote:
5. Presuming the worst case and I only have a month of travel left when I renter USA in Baja, what are my chances of being able to extend by stay once in the USA to allow me more time to travel up to Canada.
Not sure.
Quote:
6. Presuming once I have got to Canada I am at the end of my allowed stay in the USA, would I be correct in assuming that I would be unlikely to be allowed back into the USA when I get to Minnesota or thereabouts? How long does the USA like you to leave their country for, before being allowed back in? Is the 6 month stay, limited to 6 months per year, or is it more flexible than that?
The TwoMotoKiwis were allow to reenter, despite just leaving. I was allowed another 6 months after a 6 week exit. I have heard people say (TravellingStrom) than leaving and entering via and adjacent country (ie Mexico and Canada) is different than to some where else, but I am not sure of this.
Quote:
My apologies for the multiple questions; here’s hoping that there is someone here with a better understanding of USA immigrations law than me!

Thanks for any help,

Regards

Nick

In terms of getting the B2 - it was a simple process for us, just filled in the online form and submitted it at the embassy, straight forward interview. My initial entry was much more difficult, the officer thought we were going to stay and Googled us before giving us an I-94.

I am currently on my to Alaska so will be doing some entries and exits. I will post up my experiences when I am back.
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  #5  
Old 25 Apr 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nickdisjunkt View Post


1. As far as I understand it, the embassy in London will issue my visa for up to 10 years, but have no say on how long I will be allowed to stay when I arrive in the USA. Is this correct? Yes. The VISA issuance and STAY approval/grants are different animals.

2. I am also aware that when most people arrive in the USA, the immigration authority will set a limit on how long you are allowed to stay, usually between 3 and 6 months. Is this also correct?

4. Is it possible to agree a stay of longer than 6 months in the first instance when I arrive at Brunswick, if my circumstances are acceptable to the immigrations people? What would my circumstances need to be? Presumably adequate funds are part of it? If I did agree a stay of 12 months, would I still be entitled to this when I re-enter USA from Mexico, or would I have to restart my negotiations?

Correct. However, you may REQUEST as much time as you need, within reasonble limits. A 1-year stay is not completely unreasonable; if you do ask for more than 3-6 months, be prepared to show two things: That you can afford to remain in the US for that long AND you intend to return once your allotted stay ends.

DO NOT overstay your granted stay, whether it is 3, 6 or 12 months.

Lastly, request the maximum amount of time PRIOR to having the immigration inspector stamp your I-94. You may have to go to a differwent area; that's fine. Be prepared, have the above info available and coherent. A schedule would be a big help,

3. What I don’t know is how the 6 month limit is defined, and how easy it is to extend. If I was limited to 6 months when I arrived in Brunswick, would this stop when I enter Mexico? If it pauses, does the 6 month limit refresh when I re-enter at Baja, or will I then only have 4 months to make my way up to Canada? If it doesn’t pause when I enter Mexico, will I then only have 1 month to travel up to Canada unless I can agree an extension? If you DO request an extension to yur stay, do it WELL in advance of your alotted stay expiring...like 30-60 days ahead of time. I do not see any issues with having your time extended if you can show the above info.

My apologies for the multiple questions; here’s hoping that there is someone here with a better understanding of USA immigrations law than me!

Thanks for any help,

Regards

Nick
You'll be fine, Nick. Be prepared, be confident and be ready to ask to speak with a supervisory CBPO if you encounter initial refusals. Having said that, please obey whatever stay you are granted and you agree to.

Let us know how you do.
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  #6  
Old 25 Apr 2013
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Hi,
I don't know how things are done in Europe,but it seems to me that it shouldn't be that problematic,specially coming from the UK.
I'm from El Salvador and this is what people do back home to come visit The US.They apply for for a "multiple tourist visa" that is good for ten years.So,it doesn't matter how many times you go in and out of the US in the time period that the INS agent has giving you at the moment of entry.If your stay is going to be longer that the time you been given,no problem!.It is easy to get more time.
I don't know if this type of visa is only for Latin American countries but is some thing you should look into.
Good luck to you !
Jaime.
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Old 26 Apr 2013
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Many thanks for all the advice! It seems the process is more relaxed and informal than I had thought. There's no substitute for hearing from people who have recently been through the same thing.

I'll put some updates here when I apply for the Visa, and again when I arrive in the US.

Happy travels.

Nick
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Old 5 Feb 2014
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I have been to the US Embassy website and the B2 Visa seems to be for medical treatment, study and amature performers.
These don't apply to me.
Can I get to the US and stay for longer than 90 days?
Our trip hopes to be from West to East coast by motorcycle and over 90 days would be great,
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  #9  
Old 6 Feb 2014
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nigel_tailyour View Post
I have been to the US Embassy website and the B2 Visa seems to be for medical treatment, study and amature performers.
These don't apply to me.
Can I get to the US and stay for longer than 90 days?
Our trip hopes to be from West to East coast by motorcycle and over 90 days would be great,
You need to read it again :-)

Under the category of temporary visitor for pleasure, a B2 visa can be used to:
  • Travel within the US
  • Visit family or friends
  • Participate in activities of a fraternal, social, or service nature
  • Obtain medical treatment
Note the word "pleasure" :-)


Yes, you can stay longer than 90 days, and yes it can be reused for upto 10 years.
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Old 6 Feb 2014
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I Got a B2 10year visa in 2011 for motorcycle travel in the USA (it actually says B1/B2 on the visa). I could not enter on a tourist visa waiver as I had no flight home (crossing land border to Mexico).

Just followed the process advised for UK residents, seem to remember it involved a mandatory expensive phone call to a US embassy helpline, a long online questionnaire which took several evenings to complete, and a visit to the US Embassy / Consulate where I explained about my motorcycling trip. I was all stamped and approved within an hour and have been in and out of the USA many times since using it with no issues.
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Old 10 Feb 2014
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That is a lifesaver. Not for me but for the audience as I had decided to become an amateur performer and believe me you don't want to hear me sing. I can saw a woman in half so that was going to be my back up plan.
Thanks for the help


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
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Old 10 May 2016
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Originally Posted by Zippo View Post
I Got a B2 10year visa in 2011 for motorcycle travel in the USA (it actually says B1/B2 on the visa). I could not enter on a tourist visa waiver as I had no flight home (crossing land border to Mexico).

"""I was all stamped and approved within an hour and have been in and out of the USA many times since using it with no issues.
""""

Hi Zippo,
you are quite my case, like many, as I am on a B2 due to long motorbike trip which involve trips in and out US and Canada.

How long have you spent outside US? ether Canada or Mexico, if less than 30 it should easily allowed from visa.
my wander is what to do to extend this period outside of US.. thanks Zippo and all.
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Old 10 May 2016
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Guess you know about problems if you have been in some middle east countries in the last few years/
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Old 11 May 2016
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Just to add some info based on my own experience...

A B1/B2 visa allows you to stay in the USA for up to six months out of any twelve month period (ie. 182 days per year).

These days, there are no I-94 immigration forms, it is all computerised - so they know how many days you've been in the US - and even if you leave via a land boarder (eg. Mexico/Canada) it doesn't 'reset' to zero as such, the tally is held until you re-enter the US, and then continues to be counted up until your maximum per year.

In the old days (2008-09) it was possible to extend your stay beyond six months by visiting a local Immigration Service office, and asking for an extension - since 'technically' you ought to be able to stay from say July-December out of one year, then January-June the following year - however you'd have to prove you were not in the US for at least six months prior to your first arrival, and not return for at least six months afterwards...

Unfortunately I'm not sure this is possible these days - you'd have to check with US immigration.

Even if it is still possible to back-to-back your annual allowance, you would almost certainly be refused entry if you did try and enter again before the end of that second year period, and a worst case scenario would be they revoke your visa and/or bar you indefinitely.

Jx
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Old 13 May 2016
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Originally Posted by Tony LEE View Post
Guess you know about problems if you have been in some middle east countries in the last few years/
Well, not. I never had problem there. was hard time too, but all good there.
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