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ResourcesVisa & Immigration LawUS Immigration LawHow Long Will I Be Allowed to Stay in the USA on a Tourist Visa?

How Long Will I Be Allowed to Stay in the USA on a Tourist Visa?

Transcript of the above video:

As the title of this video suggests, we are discussing tourist visas. 

A commonly asked question that I have heard over the years is, "How long will I be allowed to stay in the United States upon admission in tourist visa status?"  Well that depends on a lot of factors but let's go ahead and presume a couple of things.  First of all we are just talking about a standard B1/ B2 which is basically the standard way, the tourist visa so-called tourist visas to the United States are issued.  Secondly let's presume that were talking about an initial trip to the US and I will get into some more detail later on in this video, but let's just assume we are talking about this individual's first time traveling to the US in tourist visa status.  

So this individual has been issued a 10-year multi-entry B1/B2 visa from the US Embassy for example in Bangkok. They want to travel to the United States on that visa.  How long are they going to be stamped in? Probably 6 months.  US Customs and Border Protection Officers have the discretion to admit those entering on tourist visa status for as long as they like or as little as they like. I have seen instances where USCBP officers have said "How long you staying here?"  The individual in question has said "I have a flight out on X date," and they literally stamped them in until that date specifically; no more, no less.  They are allowed to stay until they fly out. It is relatively rare that this happens but I have seen it; I have seen individuals be stamped in that way. 

In most cases, US Customs and Border Protection will routinely issue a 6-month stamp for entry into the United States. This is something that can cause some issues for individuals going to the United States as a tourist, because one thing I see folks try to do is use up every single day of that six months and then turn right back around and try to come back in.  If you are using a tourist visa, in any jurisdiction, this is true for Thailand as well, it is not a good idea to try and live there on a tourist visa because they are not going to allow it.

The thing to take away from this video is the US Customs and Border Protection Officers are neither foolish nor are they naive.  If you remain for prolonged periods of time in the United States on a tourist visa, at one of those entries they are going to go ahead and start asking questions as to why this individual is staying so long on their tourist visa.

So although the validity is six months, it is basically issued for that amount of time because (a) it is the maximum statutorily allowed period of time for a tourist visa  entering and because it's almost a convenience thing. I think it is done to accommodate travelers to the United States.  People understand. Flights can get delayed. Plans can change. Situations can change.  So remaining an extra week past what one thought they would remain in the United States, that can happen. So to be rigidly stuck to an exact date or an exact period of time, for example of a couple of weeks that can prove problematic for someone for very honest reasons which I believe is the reason why generally speaking US Customs and Border Protection Officers issue those stamps for a six-month period of time to allow some leeway for that entrant. That being said and again to reiterate, it is not wise to abuse that accommodation in order to try and live in the United States on a tourist visa.