If you want to apply for a B1/B2 visa in the future, you may be curious to know for how long the visa will be valid. That is a natural question, but you need to keep an open mind because not everyone receives the same validity period. You must remember that the US Tourist visa validity can be discretionary and it depends on a series of factors.
What you may have noticed or read until now is that some people are given a 10-year valid US tourist visa, while others receive shorter periods. This is what we meant by discretionary. Just because an acquaintance of yours gets a US tourist visa with 10 years of validity does not mean you will receive the same.
For starters, you should know that the US Department of State advises the consular officers to issue maximum validity. The purpose of that is to make both the applicant’s and the consulate’s job easier in the long run. Just to give you an example, a US tourist visa for Indian citizens can have a validity of a maximum of 10 years, but there is a reciprocity principle in the middle. For some other visa categories, the maximum is of 5 years.
As you may have already figured out, the US tourist visa validity is established after your interview with the consular officer. Based on your interview, he or she will decide for how long your visa is going to be valid. You may receive the maximum of ten years, but you can get one that is valid only for 6 months. That can happen when you travel to the US for the first time, and you have not traveled much in the past. After your first visa is issued for 6 months, the next time you will apply, you will get a US tourist visa with a validity of 10 years.
Do not confuse the US tourist visa validity with duration
This is a common mistake, and we wish to clear things up a bit. The validity means the period of time in which you can actually use the visa. You can use it last minute if you want. For example, if your US Tourist visa expires on 13th of March 2019, as long as you cross the US border until the 14th, you are in check. Duration, on the other hand, refers to the period of time you can spend in the US once you arrive. A US tourist visa has a maximum duration of 6 months, so you are not allowed to stay in the country more than that. Basically, you can stay in the US even after your visa loses its validity. As long as you do not exceed the duration, you are in the US legally.
What you need to remember is that the US tourist visa validity is discretionary, and only the consular officer that interviews you can decide for how long your visa is valid. He or she will base the decision on multiple factors, but you getting a US Tourist visa that is valid only for 6 months does not mean anything problematic. It may be just because the consular officer believes you will not need a visa with longer validity.