B-1 Business Visa & B-2 Tourist Visitor Visa
What is a B-Visa?
B-1 and B-2 visas allow non-immigrant visitors to enter the U.S. for business purposes or tourism. The difference between B-1 and B-2 visas comes down to the intention of the applicant’s stay. The B-1 non-immigrant visas are usually granted to foreign nationals visiting the U.S. to negotiate contracts, settle estates, consult with other business associates, or attend conferences or other professional educational events. The B-2 non-immigrant visas are granted to foreign nationals coming to the U.S. as tourists for pleasure, entertainment, or to visit family and friends. The purpose of the B visa is to develop international business relationships and bolster the U.S. tourism industry.
B-1/B-2 Visa Requirements
While B-visas are not as strict as other visas, all applicants must meet the following eligibility criteria:
- Their intentions for U.S. entry must be nonimmigrant, for business or pleasure
- They must have enough financial independence to fund their entire stay in the U.S.
- They must intend to return to their home country after their visa’s expiration; they do not intend to stay in the U.S.
- They must provide proof in the form of supporting documentation that they meet these requirements
Citizens of countries participating in the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) are permitted to visit the U.S. for business or tourism purposes without applying for a B visa. Citizens of one of these 39 countries may forego the visa application process if they have a valid Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) approval before their travel. The main stipulation of a visit through VWP is that the stay lasts no longer than 90 days. A country’s involvement in the VWP does not prevent a foreign national from applying and acquiring a B visa—they still may apply, especially if their stay is expected to last longer than 90 days.
Can a B-1 Visa Holder Travel with Dependents?
Unfortunately, because of the B visa’s temporary nature, it does not permit dependents to travel with the visa holder. If spouses and children wish to travel to the U.S. during their B-1 visa holder’s trip, they must apply for their own B-2 visas. The B-2 visa holders can stay with their B-1 spouse or parent for up to 6 months and request an extension for up to 1 year. Unfortunately, being a child or spouse of a B-1 visa holder does not entitle them to B-2 visas, and their requests can still be rejected, although unlikely.
B-1/B-2 Allowed Activities
There are a few restrictions imposed on B visa holders. For example, B-visa holders are not allowed to engage in gainful employment during their stay. Applicants frequently ask if B-1 visa holders can attend school in the U.S. B visa holders are not permitted to attend public or private schools for credit, however, if they wish to take a recreational study without credit, they may. Foreign nationals who wish to study in the U.S. for credit should pursue F or M visas instead.
Prepare for the Interview
All B visa applicants 14 – 79 years old must attend an in-person interview at the U.S. Embassy where they applied. Since embassies are often backlogged, and the interview is conducted by an official, scheduling an interview as soon as possible should be a priority. Before attending the interview, the applicant must ensure that they have all of the supporting documentation, which may include, but is not limited to:
- A valid passport
- Any social media account details
- A photo that is UCIS compliant
- Financial/bank statements proving financial sustainability
- Ties to their home country (family, employment contract, lease, or property deed)
- Form DS-160 confirmation page and code
- An interview confirmation page
- Documents from prior visits to the U.S. (if applicable)
- A letter from their employer and pay stubs from the past 3 months
- A letter from their employer detailing the purpose of their visit and their current job title
- An application submission confirmation letter and number
- Receipts of their fee payments
Applicants should be prepared to answer any B-visa interview questions pertaining to any document in their file.
How Long Can You Stay in the U.S. with a B-Visa?
The B visas are only intended for short term pleasure and business trips to the U.S. A B visa is good for up to 6 months—the U.S. Embassy assumes that that is enough time to accomplish any of the international business matters in question; as well as enough time to visit and tour attractions. After 6 months, the visa holder can either return to their home country or apply for an extension. There is no annual cap or limit to how many B-visas are granted.
Get Your B-1 Visa with Batrakova
Navigating immigration law can be challenging and confusing, which is why The Batrakova Law Office is here to help you every step of the way on your path to acquiring a B-1 or B-2 visa. Filing and maintaining all of the documents necessary for is a large undertaking. Our immigration attorneys are able to take care of the paperwork while you focus on your job and business trip. If you are in need of a B-visa lawyer to assist you in the application process, contact us and we will be in touch shortly.