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What is a B-2 Visa for Household Members?

Mar 27, 2024

U.S. travel visa

Understanding Derivative Visas

Derivative visas are typically granted to family members or dependents of a primary visa holder, allowing them to accompany or join the primary visa holder in the United States. These visas are typically tied to the primary visa holder’s status and are granted based on their relationship to the primary visa holder.

For example, if someone receives an H-1B visa to work in the United States, their spouse and unmarried children under 21 may be eligible to obtain derivative visas (in this case, H-4 visas) to accompany them and live in the United States. Derivative visas of this kind are typically limited to spouses and unmarried children under 21. But what if your family or household looks different? That’s where the B-2 visa classification for “household members” comes in.

B-2 Classification For Household Members

Typically, the B-2 visa is a nonimmigrant visa for temporary visitors to the United States for tourism purposes. It’s commonly used for travel, visiting family or friends, participating in social events, or receiving medical treatment.

However, in certain cases the B-2 classification may also be used for “household members” of long-term nonimmigrant visa holders that may not qualify for a derivative status visa. 

The Foreign Affairs Manual (FAM) which outlines the rules and procedures that guide the Department of State’s includes a special provision for individuals like cohabitating partners, extended family members, and other household members who aren’t eligible for derivative status. According to the FAM, “B-2 classification is appropriate for aliens who are members of the household of another alien in long-term nonimmigrant status, but who are not eligible for derivative status under that alien’s visa classification.” In this case, long-term nonimmigrant status refers to certain work visas (such as H-1B and L-1), as well as the F-1 student visa.

Defining Household Member

Examples of household members include elderly parents, cohabitating partners, or even parents of F-1 student visa holders who are minors. In order to qualify as an eligible household member, the applicant will need to prove that they live in the same household as the primary visa holder and that they maintain a close relationship. Roommates or more casual relationships/friendships do not typically qualify as household members under the B-2 classification. 

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How Long Can a Household Member Stay in the U.S. With a B-2 Visa?

According to the FAM provision, B-2 household members can be admitted to the U.S. for up to one year, which is longer than the usual six-month period granted by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) at a U.S. port of entry. After this initial period, the individual can apply for extensions in increments of six months.


The B-2 visa is a nonimmigrant classification. Like all B-2 visa holders, household members on B-2 must prove that their stay in the U.S. is only temporary and that they intend to return to their home country. Even if the primary visa holder intends to immigrate to the U.S., the B-2 household member must still demonstrate nonimmigrant intent.

Boundless helps you build a tailored visa plan for every step of the process, from forms to your immigration interview.