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: 


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.

My Mother visited USA in Dec 2012 on a Visitor Visa.
Her visitor visa is valid till Dec 2022.

My mother lost the extended stay -I539 approval document ( USCIS - approved on 17-june-2013).

After approval, She stayed for 2 months more in 2013, and returned india in Aug 2013.

We have the acknowledgement letter from USCIS that we filed and the uscis.gov case approval print which says the case is approved , we couldnt find the original approval copy as it is more than 3yrs now.

Besides her I-94 record also shows June 2013 not august 2013

could she travel with these documents- having acknowledgement letter from USCIS asking for extension and uscis.gov case approval print out along with the rest such as valid B2 visa, I94 etc.

Please let us know.

Hi i was on H-4 from last more tha 4 yrs, this time when i came to India my husband took off my visaa from my passport n abandoned me n went back to USA. Please advice me hw can i go back to US n file case against him. Can i get visitor visa n file case against him n get divorce too .

Rupa ji, you should be able to get a B visa to come and file a lawsuit.

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  Answers could be incomplete, incorrect or outdated.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

This is my second visit to the USA and I am on a B1 B2 visa. I am from India. I am currently visiting my boyfriend who is on a J1 visa. we decided to get married now. my question is can I marry him here in Oklahoma state and change my visa status? if yes, what is the process? I entered the country on June 15th, I can stay in the USA till December 14th. Also, I was married before and now I am divorced, so I have my X spouse name mentioned on my Passport . does that need to change for me marrying and stamping in the USA? thanks in advance.

Any change of status in your circumstances should only be done after a detailed consultation with a competent lawyer.

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  Answers could be incomplete, incorrect or outdated.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