B-1 / B-2 Visitor Visas
When individuals want to enter the United States (U.S.) for temporary reasons either to visit the country as tourists, visit family members, to receive medical treatment, attend conferences or conventions, or for business matters, they will have to apply for a B Visitor Visa with the U.S. Consulate office in their home country or place of permanent residence. There are two types of B Visitors Visas: B-1 Business Visitor Visas and B-2 Visitors for Pleasure, Tourism, or Medical Treatment Visas.
Requirements for B-1/B-2 Visitor Visas
- Has a residence in home country that is an actual dwelling place.
- Has no intention of abandoning residence in the home country or place of permanent residence.
- Visiting the United States for temporary business or for temporary pleasure.
Must demonstrate to the U.S. Consulate the following
- Intention to depart the United States upon expiration of requested stay (i.e. round-trip airline ticket).
- Must show no intention of abandoning residence in home country by providing proof of employment, family, and social ties.
- Must show adequate financial resources for their temporary trip to the U.S.
Below are some examples of B Visitor Visa holders. It is important to consult with an Immigration Attorney to determine which type of B Visitor Visa is required for non-immigrant travel into the U.S.
B-1 Business Visitor Visas
- Business people engaging in commercial transactions such as negotiating a contract, any litigation, and consultations with business associates or clients.
- Attending or participating in scientific, educational, religious, professional or business conventions, conferences, or seminars.
- Ministers or Religious Workers to do ministry or missionary work as long as they do not receive a salary or remuneration from a religious organization in the U.S.
- Professional athletes (i.e. golfers) as long as they do not receive a salary or remuneration, only tournament money.
- Personal/Domestic Servant of various non-immigrant visas such as B Visitor Visas, F Student Visas, E Investor Visas, to name a few, as long as the Personal/Domestic Servant can show at the U.S. Consulate of their home country that they are not abandoning their residence abroad, have worked for their employer for at least one year and have had at least one year of experience working as a Personal/Domestic Servant.
B-2 Visitors for Pleasure, Tourism, or Medical Treatment Visas
- Tourists who will be visiting the U.S. for pleasure; if the tourist wants to take a short course of study that is less than 18 hours per week (i.e. English course), it is allowed as long as the B-2 Visitor Visa holder is traveling primarily for tourism purposes.
- Visits to relatives and/or friends.
- Visit to the U.S. for medical reasons.
- Attend social organization conventions.
- Amateur athletes or performers entering for a special event who receive no salary or remuneration.
Applying for a B-1/B-2 Visa
Applicants for a B Visitor Visa should apply at the U.S. Consulate or Embassy at their home country or place of permanent residence. Each U.S. Consulate or Embassy in the various countries abroad has their own application procedures for a B Visitor Visa. Therefore, it is advisable to consult an Immigration Attorney to provide guidance about this process.
Length of Stay in the United States with a B-1/B-2 Visitor Visa
The length of stay with a B-1/B-2 Visitor Visa will vary depending on how long it will take for the visitor visa holder to accomplish their intention for temporarily visiting the United States. An average of stay has been six months. The departure date will be designated on the I-94 Arrival-Departure Record that will be issued when inspected at the port of entry (i.e. airport or border) by the Department of Homeland Security. If Visitor Visa holders need more time in the U.S., they can apply for an extension of time to stay in the country. It is advisable to immediately consult an Immigration Attorney if this occurs.
Effects of Overstaying the B-1/B-2 Visitor Visas Departure Date
It is a violation of the immigration laws of the U.S. to overstay the permitted period the B-1/B-2 Visitor Visa holder is given upon entry into the country by the Department of Homeland Security. If the there is an overstay, the B-1/B-2 Visitor Visa issued by the Department of State at the U.S. Consulate of the visa holder's home country or place of residence may be considered canceled and the visitor would be out-of-status in the U.S. Being out-of-status in the U.S. may affect any future travels into the U.S. because the visa holder may be ineligible for a visa in the future.
What is the fee for the B Visitor Visa?
As of April 13, 2012, the Department of State fee for B Visitor Visas is $160.00.
Does everyone need a B-1 or B-2 Visitor Visa to enter the United States for business or pleasure?
No. Certain nationals from qualifying countries, who come to the U.S. for business or pleasure for 90 days or less, may be eligible if they meet the Visa Waiver Program qualifications. Currently there are 35 countries that are participating in the Visa Waiver Program:
Visa Waiver Program - Participating Countries
Andorra Hungary New Zealand
Australia Iceland Norway
Austria Ireland Portugal
Belgium Italy San Marino
Brunei Japan Singapore
Czech Republic Latvia Slovakia
Denmark Liechtenstein Slovenia
Estonia Lithuania South Korea
Finland Luxembourg Spain
France Malta Sweden
Germany Monaco Switzerland
Greece Netherlands United Kingdom
Note: For nationals from the Visa Waiver Program Participating Countries, please consult an Immigration Attorney regarding the program's requirements.