B Visa Overview

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The B visa category applies to citizens of foreign countries who wish to visit the United States for a temporary period.  There are two types of B visas: B-1 (for business) and B-2 (for pleasure or medical treatment).  A B-1 visa would be issued for an individual desiring to enter the U.S. to consult with business associates; attend a scientific, educational, professional or business convention or conference; settle an estate; or negotiate a contract.  A B-2 visa would be issued for an individual wishing to enter the U.S. for touring, amusement, visits with friends or relatives, rest, medical treatment, and activities of a social or service nature.

Foreign travelers who are citizens from certain eligible countries may also be able to visit the U.S. without a visa for tourism or business for 90 days or less on the Visa Waiver Program.  (See Visa Waiver Program below.)

A. Duration of Stay

A business visitor (B-1) will be granted a period of entry sufficient to conduct his or her business.  Generally, these visits are approved for less than three months.  

A non-business visitor (B-2) will automatically be granted a six-month period of entry.  Only in unusual circumstances will a B-2 visa holder be granted a period of entry that is shorter or longer than six months.  

It should be noted that it is possible to obtain a period of admission of one year on initial entry to the U.S.  Additionally, extensions of up to six months may be granted.

B.    Application Process

In order to obtain a B visa, you need only apply with the U.S. consulate; an application to the Immigration Service is not required.

C.  Items for Travel

It is useful, in order to assure entry at the border, for the B-1 visa holder to carry a letter from his or her company, similar to the letter supporting the visa application that affirms:

 • The purpose of the trip.

• The limited duration of the trip.

• The visa holder's steady employment with the company and strong ties with his or her home country.

 The individual applying for the tourist visa should carry a letter of invitation, together with such other pieces of documentation as hotel reservations or evidence of other travel arrangements.

 The B-1 and B-2 visa holder should also bring with him or her:

• Copies of the documentation that accompanied the visa application.

•The return portion of his or her round-trip ticket and evidence of prepaid accommodations or confirmed hotel reservations.

• Sufficient funds to cover the period of stay requested by him or her.

D.    Special Conditions

It should be noted that an alien entering the U.S. with a B visa must not engage in gainful employment (labor for hire) in the U.S.  Additionally, the undertaking of an academic study program is not permitted (with a few limited exceptions).

E.   Basic Requirements for Obtaining B-1/B-2 Status

There are five basic requirements for issuance of a B visa, as specified by The State Department:

1.    The alien is entering the U.S. for a limited duration.

2.    The alien intends to depart the U.S. at the expiration of his or her stay.

3.    While in the U.S., the alien maintains a foreign residence which he or she has no intention of abandoning.

4.    The alien has adequate financial arrangements to travel to, sojourn in, and depart from the U.S.

5.    The alien will engage solely in legitimate activities relating to business or pleasure.

F.   Additional Information

No assurances regarding the issuance of visas can be given in advance. Therefore, final travel plans or the purchase of non-refundable tickets should not be made until a visa has been issued.

Unless previously canceled, a visa is valid until its expiration date. Therefore, if the traveler has a valid U.S. visa in an expired passport, do not remove the visa page from the expired passport. You may use it along with a new valid passport for travel and admission to the United States.

Visitors are not permitted to accept employment during their stay in the U.S.

G.  Family Members

There is no derivative status for B visas, which is why family members must qualify independently for a B visa.

H.  The Visa Waiver Program

The Visa Waiver Program (VWP) allows citizens of participating countries to travel to the United States without a visa for stays of 90 days or less. Travelers must be eligible to use the VWP and have a valid Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) approval prior to travel. 

If you are eligible to travel on the VWP, but prefer to have a visa in your passport, you may still apply for a visitor (B) visa.

Citizen or National of a VWP Designated Country 

You must be a citizen or national of VWP-participant country. The following 38 countries are Visa Waiver Program participants:

AFlag of Andorra AndorraFlag of Australia AustraliaFlag of Austria Austria

BFlag of Belgium BelgiumFlag of Brunei Brunei

CFlag of Chile ChileFlag of Czech Republic Czech Republic

DFlag of Denmark Denmark

EFlag of Estonia Estonia

FFlag of Finland FinlandFlag of  France France

GFlag of Germany GermanyFlag of Greece Greece

HFlag of Hungary Hungary

IFlag of Iceland IcelandFlag of Ireland IrelandFlag of Italy Italy

JFlag of Japan Japan

LFlag of Latvia LatviaFlag of Liechtenstein LiechtensteinFlag of Lithuania LithuaniaFlag of Lithuania Luxembourg

MFlag of Malta MaltaFlag of Monaco Monaco

NFlag of Netherlands NetherlandsFlag of New Zealand New ZealandFlag of Norway Norway

PFlag of Portugal Portugal

SFlag of San Marino San MarinoFlag of Singapore SingaporeFlag of Slovakia SlovakiaFlag of Slovenia SloveniaFlag of South Korea South KoreaFlag of Spain SpainFlag of Sweden SwedenFlag of Switzerland Switzerland

TTaiwan Taiwan

UFlag of United Kingdom United Kingdom 

For more information on VWP please visit this link: http://travel.state.gov/content/visas/en/visit/visa-waiver-program.html

Also visit Visa Waiver Program Update 2016  from CBP.

Nonimmigrant Visas: 


I am visiting US as visitor B2. I would like to change my visa status, become a resident of USA, receive working and studing rights. What steps should I take? Or what are the ways for my goal?

Seroxy, this is not an easy question to answer. There are just too many variables. You should speak with an immigration to lawyer to see what options are available to you, for your specific situation.

Note: Not intended to create attorney-client relationship.  Answers could be incomplete, incorrect or outdated.  Use caution.

I’ve a B1\B2 visa with my previous company ABC in which I have traveled to US for Business purpose (3 Months) and it is valid till 2020 and now I work for XYZ company. Is it possible to travel to the US with this B1\B2 visa for a one month as a Tourist visitor? To visit my wife where she is working there in H1B visa.

Where do I check if my B1\B2 is still valid? Though it is a B1, can I travel as a B2 and what documents would be needed to support my one month visit in the US. Pls guide.

Jose, start by emailing the US consulate for an answer to your question. The policy on whether or not you should travel for a purpose unrelated to original visa is a little unclear.

Note: Not intended to create attorney-client relationship.  Answers could be incomplete, incorrect or outdated.  Use caution.


I am planning to visit my kids (accompanied by my wife, daughter and my two little boys) who are studying in Wichita State University/Wichita/Kansas on July 2017. I would like to know when is the best time to apply for the visa. If I apply for the visa on March 2017 and it is issued to me and my family members on the same month, how long do I have before it expires. Meaning do I have to travel to the US after a given period of time or I lose the Visa.

Your response is appreciated...thanks...regards,

Usually, tourist/business Visas are given for any duration between 1-10 years. You will need to travel to the USA during that time.

Note: Not intended to create attorney-client relationship.  Answers could be incomplete, incorrect or outdated.  Use caution.

Hello dear
I have B1B2 visa, was granted in 2015. I went to US in September 2015 and return in January 2016, that was my business trip and I went again in April 2016 and back on August 2016. That was also my business trip. I am a startup in India and I have a meeting in Florida in January 2017.
I am a Indian citizen and want to ask is it safe to go and do meetings in US AGAIN.
Thanks for your help and support..

Ashwini Kumar

Ashwini ji, as long as the visits are for genuine business reasons AND you can prove that if asked at the airport, I don't see why you cannot come again.

Note: Not intended to create attorney-client relationship.  Answers could be incomplete, incorrect or outdated.  Use caution.

My friends visitor visa was denied due to an officer switching his name with another person included in the report. They missed the last Mexico exit and drove up to check point wanting to turn back. The officer said it was no problem and took a report but under his picture was the other person's name. He needs to get this corrected but don't know where to start. Help and thanks in advance for any advice.