As the visa process for Costa Ricans (and other Central American citizens) entering the United States is about to become more expensive, here’s a rundown on how to apply for said visa in the first place.
Citizens of Costa Rica and non-citizen residents interested in visiting the United States for tourism, on business, or for medical treatment can apply for a 10-year multiple entry visit visa. This visa, known as the B1/B2 visa, allows for multiple visits to the US within the visa’s validity period.
An overview of the USA 10-Year multiple entry visa
The USA 10-Year Multiple Entry Visit Visa comprises the B1 Business Visitor Visa, which is for business-related purposes, and the B2 Tourist Visitor Visa, which covers tourism, visiting friends and relatives, and medical treatment. With this visa, you can enter the United States multiple times within the 10-year validity period, with each visit lasting a maximum of six months. It eliminates the need to apply for a visa each time you visit the United States.
The B-1 Visa is for business purposes. The B-2 Visa is for tourism or other non-business purposes. These non-immigrant visas are issued by the US government to foreign citizens seeking entry for a temporary period.#quikTake qt-ni-visa-020 by #borderObserver pic.twitter.com/XIWe1OlLMh
— The Border Observer (@borderObserver) April 21, 2023
To be eligible for the 10-year multiple entry visa, applicants must:
- Be a Costa Rican citizen or non-citizen resident (this process does not apply to citizens of Visa Waiver Program countries).
- Intend to visit the US for business, tourism, or medical treatment purposes.
- Prove the intention to return to Costa Rica after their visit to the United States.
- Show evidence of sufficient funds to cover their expenses during their stay in the United States.
- Not have a criminal record or pose a security risk to the United States.
Documents required for applicants
Applicants will need to submit the following documents as part of their visa application:
- A valid passport with at least six months of validity beyond the intended departure date from the United States.
- A recent passport-sized photograph that meets U.S, visa photo requirements.
- A completed Form DS-160, Nonimmigrant Visa Application, submitted online and a printed confirmation page.
- Proof of visa application fee payment.
- Evidence of ties to Costa Rica, such as employment or property ownership documents, to demonstrate the intent to return after the visit.
- Financial documents, such as bank statements, to prove the ability to cover expenses during the trip to the United States.
- If applicable, documents related to the purpose of the trip, such as a business invitation letter, conference registration, or medical treatment records.
Step 1: Complete the DS-160 form
Complete the DS-160, Nonimmigrant Visa Application, online. Provide accurate and complete information about yourself, your passport, travel plans, and other relevant details. After submitting the form, print the confirmation page, which you will need for the visa interview.
Step 2: Pay the visa application fee
The visa application fee for a B1/B2 visa is currently $160 USD (this will increase to $185 from May 30th, 2023). Pay the fee according to the instructions provided on the US Embassy website in Costa Rica. Keep the receipt, as you’ll need to show it to them during the visa interview.
Step 3: Schedule a visa interview
Schedule a visa interview at the U.S. Embassy in Costa Rica. To do this, visit the embassy website and follow the instructions provided. Schedule the interview as early as possible, as appointment wait times can vary depending on the time of year.
Step 4: Prepare for the visa interview
Gather all the required documents before the visa interview, including the DS-160 confirmation page, passport, photograph, visa application fee receipt, and any supporting documents related to the purpose of travel and financial situation. Review the information provided in the DS-160 form and prepare to answer questions about the purpose of the visit, plans while in the United States, and ties to Costa Rica.
Step 5: Attend the visa interview
Arrive at the embassy with all required documents on the day of the interview. During the interview, a consular officer will ask questions about your travel plans, background, and financial situation to determine eligibility for the B1/B2 visa. Answer all questions truthfully and provide any information or documents requested by the consular officer.
Step 6: Submit biometrics and additional documents
After the interview, you may be required to submit biometrics, such as fingerprints and a digital photograph, and any additional documents requested by the consular officer. These requirements will be explained during the visa interview.
Step 7: Visa processing and issuance
After the interview, the consular officer will determine whether you are eligible for a B1/B2 visa. If approved, the visa will be processed and issued within a few days to several weeks, depending on the specific circumstances. You will be notified when your passport and visa are ready for pick-up or delivery.
On May 30, 2023, the application fee for U.S. visitor visas and other non-petition based NIVs will increase from $160 to $185. Petition-based (H, L, O, P, Q, and R) visa fees will increase from $190 to $205. E visa application fees will increase from $205 to $315. Fees paid prior… pic.twitter.com/QycMB0mYD1
— U.S. Embassy Tegucigalpa (@usembassyhn) April 22, 2023
Visa validity and duration of stay
The 10-year multiple entry visit visa allows holders to travel to the United States for multiple visits during the validity of the visa. Each visit can last up to six months, depending on the discretion of the U.S. immigration officer at the port of entry. Note that the 10-year visa validity does not guarantee entry to the US – you must still satisfy the immigration officer of your admissibility each time you seek entry.
Visa denials and ineligibilities
Some applicants may be denied a B1/B2 visa due to various reasons, such as insufficient documentation, failure to demonstrate non-immigrant intent, or ineligibility based on security or health grounds.
If denied, you can reapply for a visa by submitting a new application with additional supporting documents or addressing the issues that led to the denial. In some cases, you may be eligible for a waiver of ineligibility, which can be requested during the visa interview.
Please note that when you’re denied, you will not receive a refund on the money you’ve paid for your application. In many cases, you won’t receive a reason for them denying you either, which makes it hard to address any issues from the previous interview.
Tips for a successful visa application
To increase the chances of a successful B1/B2 visa application, you should:
- Ensure all the information provided in the DS-160 form is accurate and complete.
- Gather strong supporting documents to show the purpose of the visit, financial ability to cover expenses, and ties to Costa Rica.
- Prepare for the visa interview by reviewing the information provided in the DS-160 form and being ready to answer questions about the visit and your background.
- Follow the instructions provided by the embassy for scheduling the interview, paying the visa application fee, and submitting required documents.
The USA 10-Year Multiple Entry Visit Visa offers Costa Rican citizens and non-citizen residents the opportunity to visit the United States for business, tourism, or medical treatment purposes. By understanding the eligibility criteria, gathering the necessary documents, and following the application process steps, applicants can increase their chances of obtaining this valuable visa.
The process outlined above to get a B1/B2 Visa to enter the United States also apply throughout Central America. If you’re a Belizean, Salvadoran, Guatemalan, Honduran, Nicaraguan, or Panamanian in your own country, you will need to apply in the same way at the U.S. embassy in Belmopan, San Salvador, Guatemala City, Tegucigalpa, Managua, or Panama City.
If you seek to enter Europe, however, most Central American citizens don’t need to apply for a visa. All Central Americans apart from citizens of Belize can enter Europe visa-free and can take advantage of the upcoming ETIAS visa waiver program.
A look at where Central Americans and expats living in Central America can travel to in Europe under the ETIAS visa waiver program set to start in November 2023.https://t.co/3OgvxnTt8e
— Central America Living (@VidaAmerica) January 12, 2023