B-1/B-2 Visitor Visa for Business, Tourism and Pleasure

B1 B2 visitor visa

A B-1/B2 visitor visa is for citizens of foreign countries and allows them to come to the United States temporarily for business, tourism, medical treatment or pleasure.  Frequently, B-1 and B-2 visas are combined in one visa category and referred to as a “visitor visa.”

B-1 visa is for the following activities:

  • consulting with business colleagues
  • attending business, educational, scientific or professional conference
  • settling an estate
  • negotiating a contract

B-2 visa is for the following activities:

  • tourism
  • vacation
  • medical treatment
  • visiting relatives or friends
  • participation in social events
  • participation in recreational sports, musical events or contests as long as such participation is not paid
  • enrollment in short and nonacademic studies

B-1/B2 visas do not permit employment, academic study or permanent residence in the United States.

B-2 visa for medical treatment

If you are applying for a B-2 visa for medical treatment, you will also need to bring additional supporting documents to the interview, such as:

  • Detailed medical diagnosis from your physician with explanation as to why your travel to the U.S. is necessary
  • Letter from a U.S. physician stating appointment dates and period and cost of the treatment
  • Evidence that you or someone else will pay your medical, living and travel expenses

Application process for B-1 and B-2 visitor visa

The general application process to obtain a B-1 or B-2 visitor visa is the same among different U.S. consulates and embassies abroad, but sometimes there is variation between the order of the application steps and certain required additional documentation.  Therefore, before applying for this nonimmigrant visa, you should check the instructions of the specific embassy or consulate at which you are going to apply for the visa.

The application process starts with completion of the Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application, Form DS-160.  After you complete the form, you will need to print out the confirmation page and bring it to the interview at the consulate or embassy along with other supporting documentation and photographs.  Usually, applicants under the age of 13 and over the age of 80 are not required to attend the interview, but you should still check the application instructions for the specific country.  The visa application fee as of November 2016 is $160.

Apart from the confirmation page of the completed application form, photographs and fee, the applicant is also required to bring an unexpired passport to the interview.  The passport must be valid for at least 6 months beyond the date of the applicant’s allowed period of stay in the U.S.

It is advisable to bring additional supporting documents to the interview to show that the applicant has the ability to pay for his or her transportation and cost of staying in the U.S., as well as to demonstrate the purpose of the travel and his or her intention to depart the U.S. after the trip.  Close family ties in the applicant’s home country and stable employment are usually good evidence to demonstrate the applicant’s intention to depart the United States after the travel.  B-1 and B-2 visas can be issued for a single or multiple entry.  Their expiration dates may also vary.

Note that there is no single factor that will determine a favorable decision with regard to your application.  A consular officer’s decision for this type of nonimmigrant visa is frequently subjective and cannot be appealed.  In most cases, the reason for the denial is not explained to the applicant.  Nevertheless, a common reason for denial is the applicant’s failure to convince the officer of his or her nonimmigrant intention.

Admission on a B-1/B-2 visa

B-1 and B-2 visas allow the visa holder to travel to the United States, but they do not provide any guarantee of actual entry into the U.S.  Even with a valid visa, the visa holder can still be denied admission at a U.S. port-of-entry by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) or U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) representatives.  If admission is granted, a CBP officer will issue Form I-94, which states the allowed period of stay within the country.  Form I-94 was previously issued as a white piece of paper, but now it exists electronically.  In order to obtain a copy of your Form I-94, you will need to download it from the USCIS website.  Apart from issuing Form I-94, the CBP officer will also place a stamp in the visa holder’s passport, which indicates the date of the admission and authorized period of stay in the country.

B-1/B-2 visa extension

Your admission stamp and Form I-94 indicate how long you can stay in the U.S.  If you need to spend more time in the U.S. beyond the authorized admission period, you will either have to leave the country, apply for an extension, or change your visa status.  If the application for extension or change of status is denied and you overstay beyond the authorized period, you will be out of status and your visa will be canceled automatically.  Being out of status for more than 180 days (but less than one year) will trigger a 3-year-ban on reentry into the U.S.  Unlawful presence for more than 1 year will ban the visa holder from reentering the U.S. for 10 years.  Therefore, it is always advisable to consult an immigration attorney before you decide to change your status or apply for an extension.

Note that not every national of a foreign country is required to apply for a B-1 or B-2 visa to visit the United States for tourism or business.  Citizens of countries participating in the Visa Waiver Program are not required to apply for a visitor visa, provided the visitor is not planning to stay in the U.S. for more than 90 days.

Should you have any questions or if you would like to schedule a consultation, please contact me by submitting the form or by calling me at (917) 426-8227 or (248) 979-5390.  I accept clients from across the U.S. and around the world.  My law offices are conveniently located in Lower Manhattan, New York and in Troy, Michigan for in-person meetings.  For phone consultation, you can reach me from any part of the United States or abroad.