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I am a junior undergraduate student in China majoring in (computational) mathematics. Just right before the year of grad school application and graduation, I want to spend my summer vacation in USA to go for a tour visiting several grad schools, have interviews with professors and look for potential grad positions and projects. The summer vacation is about 2.5 months long so I plan to go sightseeing to fill up the blanks.

Some friends of mine go for this kind of tour during their summer intern, with which they apply for J visas. However, some including me failed to find that kind of research opportunity this year and I want to plan my own tour with sightseeing since no schools will provide me materials for J visas. Is this a appropriate reason to apply for a B2 visa? What is my chance not being rejected with the reason on wrong visa type? Is the length of 2.5 months too long to be plausible?

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The activities you mentioned (visiting potential graduate schools, having interviews, looking for potential projects, and sightseeing), and the length of 2.5 months, are all consistent with a B-2 visa. So there shouldn't be much chance of being rejected for wrong visa type.

The most common reasons for US visa denial are 214(b) failure to overcome the presumption of immigrant intent, or 221(g) incomplete application or supporting documentation. If you show strong ties to your home country and adequate documentation for your trip, including how you will pay for it, and your application doesn't raise other suspicions, it is likely that you would get the visa.

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