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Wasp
09-10-2012, 10:59
Hi @ all :)

Over the time my dream comes true and my hike seems to come reality in 2013. Now its time to get a visa. I search the I-net acc from the embassy and know I need a B2 visa. But nowhere I find how long I can stay with it in the USA?

I understand that the visa I can get in germany allows me to enter the USA and then I have to apply for the leangth. But there are several informations about it. Some says max. 6 month another say he got 7 bcs. the officer have a good day and think 6 month are to less for his trip!? The phone hotline from the embassy is very very expensive, so I first ask the forum :D

For the Thru-Hike I planning a average 15miles day. So I need arrounde 140-150 days, with 1 day of rest every week (26 weeks) I am at 166 to 176 days for the whole trip. Theres not many space left for some sightseeing or "other than hiking" actions. And after (hopefully) arriving Mt. Kathardin I have to go back to Bosten to get my flight, thats also need time.

I also read you can extend your visa, but where to do on the trail (and only if I have the money at the end, it should cost arround 200,00$)?

Maybe someone have some expirence with this problem?

RED-DOG
09-10-2012, 11:36
Bro you must love the AT more than life itself. cause if i was in a different country and it was going to cost 200,000$ i think i would stay home.

Wasp
09-10-2012, 11:39
Mhh...maybe my fault.

In germany 200,00 $ are 200$ If you type 200.00$ for 200 $ ???

RED-DOG
09-10-2012, 11:46
Okay that's a honest mistake but really you should be able to get a visa for the length you need it.

louisb
09-10-2012, 12:09
I think a tourist visa is 6 mos but the US embassy will have the latest info on that.

Thanks,

--louis

GoldenBear
09-10-2012, 12:54
www.state.gov/documents/organization/87206.pdf

It's the Foreign Affairs Manual from the U.S. State Department on the criteria to use for granting visas, including the B-2.

Section 41.31 N3.1
The period of time projected for the visit must be consistent with the stated purpose of the trip. The applicant must establish with reasonable certainty that departure from the United States will take place upon completion of the temporary visit. Although “temporary” is not specifically defined by either statute or regulation, it generally signifies a limited period of stay. The fact that the period of stay in a given case may exceed six months or a year is not in itself controlling, provided that you are satisfied that the intended stay actually has a time limitation and is not indefinite in nature.

Section 41.31 N3.2
The applicant must have specific and realistic plans for the entire period of the contemplated visit.

The two main concerns that the official will be concerned with are NOT how long you intend to stay in the U.S., but rather
1) Do you have sufficient ties in your home country to ensure that you absolutely WILL return at the end of your visit?
Section 41.31 N3.4
The applicant must demonstrate permanent employment, meaningful business or financial connections, close family ties, or social or cultural associations, which will indicate a strong inducement to return to the country of origin.

2) Prior to your arrival, do you HAVE (not WILL HAVE) sufficient funds to ensure you can stay in the U.S. the entire time without either employment or seeking outside aid?
Section 41.31 N4.2
The arrangements which the applicant has made for defraying the expenses of his or her visit and return abroad must be adequate in order to prevent their obtaining unlawful employment in the United States.

Here's some more official info:
http://travel.state.gov/visa/temp/types/types_1262.html#3
http://german.germany.usembassy.gov/visa/niv/faq/

Note these words:
The presumption in the law is that every visitor visa applicant is an intending immigrant. Therefore, applicants for visitor visas must overcome this presumption by demonstrating that:
The purpose of their trip is to enter the U.S. for business, pleasure, or medical treatment;
That they plan to remain for a specific, limited period;
Evidence of funds to cover expenses in the United States;
Evidence of compelling social and economic ties abroad; and
That they have a residence outside the U.S. as well as other binding ties that will insure their return abroad at the end of the visit.


I can't give any advice more detailed than the above, but it would seem that you will have to show that you given some thought on how long it will take you to do a thru-hike and how much it will cost. It wouldn't hurt to print out some pages from this web site as evidence of how much thought you've given on both these matters.

Wasp
09-10-2012, 15:20
Hey GoldenBear thank you for this detailed answer. The adress of the us embassy in germany I know already but I am a little bit concerned that I couldnt find any times for my visit of your country. But your post explain it perfectly.

I think than it should not be a problem to get 7 months.

- I am married since several years and my with stay´s in germany
- I would already book and pay for my flight home
- I am "only" at unpaid vacation for 7 month (04/2013 - 10/2013)
- I save around 12,000 Euro and after my fixed costs in germany, the equipment, the flights there should be at least 4,500 $ - 5,000 $ remain for the hike thats brings me over the 7 months.

I hope thats enough safety :)

Odd Man Out
09-10-2012, 15:35
The web site says that when you enter the country, the Customs and Border Protection official will stamp your I-94 form with the allowed length of stay.

"If you are allowed to enter the U.S., the CBP official will determine the length of your visit on the Arrival-Departure Record (Form I-94)."

So if you get a CBP official on a bad day and don't get the length of time you need, you could start your hike and then apply for an extension. This is from the "How to extend your stay" web page:

"If you want to extend your stay in the United States, you must file a request with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) on the Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status before your authorized stay expires. If you remain in the United States longer than authorized, you may be barred from returning and/or you may be removed (deported) from the United States. Check the date in the lower right-hand corner of your Form I-94, Arrival-Departure Record, to determine the date your authorized stay expires. We recommend that you apply to extend your stay at least 45 days before your authorized stay expires."

As to where to do this on the trail, there will be a USCIS officer at every shelter for your convenience (just kidding).
A good option for a NOBO thru hiker would be to take the train from Harpers Ferry (station right on the AT) to Washington D.C.
If you can't get the extension there, then just plan on leaving the country when the I-94 says so. You might very well have a problem if the extension can't be issued in one day and they need to mail you some paperwork. In that case, if you have a friend who could accept mail for you, it might be good to work that out in advance. This might be a good question for the German Embassy in Washington DC to answer. If a phone call is too expensive, just send them an e-mail. Part of their job is to assist German citizens while visiting the U.W. At least by the time you reach HF, you will look and smell like a thru hiker so your story would be believable when you show up in person.

And yes in many parts of the world, currency notation uses a comma instead of a decimal.
Also note that in the US, you might list a March 12th start date as 3/12/2013. If you were to put 12/3/2013 (as they would in much of Europe) you would be starting on December 3rd (by U.S. reckoning).

Have a great trip!

FlyPaper
09-10-2012, 15:51
I is always an honor to hear of foreign nationals coming to hike the AT. Last spring I met another thru-hiker from Germany. And this spring we met one from Japan. Good luck, and I hope the beauocracy will not be too much.

Wasp
09-10-2012, 15:56
Mates I love you all already :) thx for the fast and professional reply on my question :)

Wasp
09-10-2012, 15:59
I is always an honor to hear of foreign nationals coming to hike the AT. Last spring I met another thru-hiker from Germany. And this spring we met one from Japan. Good luck, and I hope the beauocracy will not be too much.

hehe I come from germany beauocracy is my "second" first name :) :) :)

cymru
09-10-2012, 16:22
I'd apply for the B2 visa soon, as it'll seriously affect your plans if they don't grant it to you.

You'll need to go to the Embassy for an interview (takes about a month to get an appointment in the UK), and while processing typically only takes a few days, it can take up to 60.

Wasp
09-10-2012, 16:38
Yes right :) thats would be my next step. In my case, if I got an appointment, I have to go to Berlin to apply the B2. I think it should not be an problem to get it, I am not previously convicted, have a fixed income, dindn´t travel to countries of the middle east, africa or some states in the axis of evil *gg* (nor my kinfolk do something like this). I hope they are mercyful and let me in to be a part of this great adventure :)

RichardD
09-10-2012, 17:31
I met several hikers on the AT from Europe last summer and they all had the 6 month visa. They were all suprised that when the visa arrived it was good for 10 years (6 months at a time). This prompted me to tell my sister to get one, she is English and visits me often for hiking and ski trips, the regular 90 day visa was making some of our trips shorter than we would have liked.
She obtained the visa, it was a frustrating process but not particularly hard, it entailed an entire day waiting at the US embassy in London. Questions asked were mostly to make sure she did not have employment in the US, that she had funds for the full length of the trip and that she had medical coverage.
She has used the visa for a 4 month ski trip so far, and it is valid for multiple entries for the next 10 years.
It would be most important that you do not overstay your visa, future entries would likely be denied if you did so.
From what I understand from her and others I met on my travels a seven month visa is not likely to be issued, you will likely have to make do with the 6 month visa.
Apparently admission to the US is still dependent upon the immigration officer even if you have the visa, entry and for how long is at his disgression.

handlebar
09-10-2012, 19:05
Wasp, I recently spoke with an Australian at East Glacier Park, Montana, near the end of the Continental Divide Trail. He had managed to get a 9 month stay for his visa. I also hiked the end of the CDT with a young French man and he had a 6 month visa. For the AT, I'd ask for 7 months, just in case.

Odd Man Out
09-10-2012, 19:19
Visa success has much to do with what country you are from. Being from Germany is an advantage. The rule that the interviewer is to assume you are trying to become an illegal immigrant is more problematic if you are from a country that has a history of generating people who overstay their visas. I know some people in less developed countries and they claim that when they try to get visas to visit family members in the US, they are only successful about half the time.

Wasp
09-11-2012, 14:47
Wasp, I recently spoke with an Australian at East Glacier Park, Montana, near the end of the Continental Divide Trail. He had managed to get a 9 month stay for his visa.


Visa success has much to do with what country you are from. Being from Germany is an advantage.

That makes hope, and how GoldenBear says I will carry some printed facts from the forum with me. So they must say yes to 7 :)

Wasp
11-29-2012, 15:16
Me again,

actual status: I got my interview appointment. Overall it was very easy and the waiting time for your appointment of choice are 2-9 days (depend on your embassy of choice). I fill out the DS-160 online yesterday and can freely choice a interview termin on over 15 days in december. Thats fast :) and very customer freindly. So I choose the the 12/27/2012 :)

bubonicplay
11-29-2012, 16:06
The AT is not a very glamorous place, people on the east coast just go there because its close. You couldn't pay me do hike that crowded trail.

TheYoungOne
11-29-2012, 16:36
Me again,

actual status: I got my interview appointment. Overall it was very easy and the waiting time for your appointment of choice are 2-9 days (depend on your embassy of choice). I fill out the DS-160 online yesterday and can freely choice a interview termin on over 15 days in december. Thats fast :) and very customer freindly. So I choose the the 12/27/2012 :)

If it helps, ask if is better to get a business visa. There is a listing for "researcher" you can say you are hiking the trail and plan to write a book about it.
http://travel.state.gov/pdf/BusinessVisa.pdf

Wasp
11-29-2012, 17:04
@TYO also an option, but I dont think they would change it. The B2 "only" costs 128 € / 160 $, if I remember it right the business visa is a little bit more expensive. I have payed it already, so I have to go with the B2


The AT is not a very glamorous place, people on the east coast just go there because its close. You couldn't pay me do hike that crowded trail.

There is a place for everyone in the world :) Maybe I didnt seek glamorous places...:banana

Wasp
12-28-2012, 08:59
:D

I got my B2 the last hurdle is gone. Like I say about the online form and process it´s was suprisingly easy. Maybe some advice for other germans who have their application in Berlin. Befor I self apply a visum I hear some things from other people and most of it seems to be bull****, or I have a choosen a very good day and all the officers are tired from christmas party´s.

At first, I booked my flight before I apply for a visa and I often hear that´s a "no go" and makes the officers angry. During the fill out of the DS-160 your travel planes are an important and seperat part of your application and you have to confirm your flight numbers and adress in the US so it cant be such an offense to book a flight before the visaapplication.

But now to my hints (but only for the embassy in Berlin (Clayallee 170)

- Parking
no problem. Arround the embassy in Berlin you have a lot of parkingspace because the road in front of the emabsy have six lanes and the outer lanes are reserved for parking / or simply used for it. On the full distance to the embassy (over two miles) there is a lot of free parking space. Of course not right in front of the embassy :)

- your electronics (Mobile, MP3 and so on...)
I am surprised how many people bring them in. It´s cleared out during the application and even on the day you are arrived that you cant bring your electronics in. The officer instructs you bevor you enter the security gate but on this day at least 1/3 of the applicants still have their Mobile and Ipads in their pockets. Good for me so the queue in front of me vanish very fast because the have to leave. But other than statet their termin wasn´t canceld the officer are very helpfull, in the near of the embassy are a Hotel (think 1/4 mile) and a kiosk whre you can deposit your electronics for the time you are in the emassy. Both, the hotel and the kiosk know it and your stuff is save there. The only thing happen to you is when you come back are the last in the queue again :)

- photo not actual enough / forgot the envelope / have no stamp
Also not a problem, in the embassy you can make a new photo. It cost 6 Euro and you need to have it suitable because you got no change back. An new envelope and a stamp you can also buy in the embasy. And again I am surprised how many people haven´t this things ready.

- Language
you are asked in all parts of the application (security gate / hand over your passport and forms / interview) which language you prefer german or english. Even in english the officers help you out and speak very clear, so every person with only schoolenglish (like me) have any problems. I saw an old women, I think kaukasian or russian who speaks neihter german or english. They orgenize an interpreter (it takes 20 mins or so) for her so they can successfully end their application.

- interview
during my 90 minutes in the embassy arround 25 interviews where conducted. Most of them are students or people who can make a practical training in the US. The interview window was not very privat so if you sit near it (and the room was full so you have no chance to choose where you would sit) you can hear all what the applicants say (not was the officer say´s, he sit behind some sort of a securitywindow). Most, I think all of them, have booked their flight before they applay for a visa, and in not even one case it would be a problem. One applicant booked a flight for the january 1st., so there are no chance that he got the visum first, but even that...no problem he have to change the booking and all is good.

The officer who manage the interview ask you some special questions about your reason (in my case some questions about my employer, duration and costs) but if you give him an clear and credible answer there are no proplems. I think because you are ask beforehand during the fill out of the DS-160, what your reason is, they make some small reaserches about it. And if you than give answers that match with what they found out about your travel its okay. I don´t need to approve even one of my answers with any documents I bring with me. But it´s can only be good to prepared very well!!!

At last I can only say it was a very positive experience. The officers are very helpfully and pleasant. Thanks for that!

StylinLP38
12-28-2012, 11:55
Or you could just marry someone in the U.S. and stay here forever :)