B-1 and B-2 VISAS
Visitor Visa for Business and Pleasure
(Temporary Visitors to the U.S.)
Most foreign nationals who want to travel to the United States for vacation or business must first obtain a visa from a U.S. Consulate abroad. Unless you are a national of a country that is visa exempt, or qualify for the visa waiver program or ESTA, you will have to have a visa to come to the U.S. Visitor visas are non-immigrant visas for individuals who want to enter the United States temporarily for business (B-1), or visiting for tourism or pleasure (B-2), or a combination of both purposes (B-1/B-2).
To apply for a B-1 or B-2 visa, the applicant needs to fill out a form DS-160 and schedule a visa appointment at the U.S. Consulate or Embassy with jurisdiction in their home country. Evidence of strong ties back to their home country must be also submitted. Such evidence includes pay stubs or other proof of employment, bank statements, proof of ownership of property, etc. How to successfully overcome this requirement will vary on a case by case basis and you can discuss with your immigration lawyer what documents will be most helpful to your case.
Foreign visitors coming into the United States temporarily for business are covered by the B-1 visa. Ordinarily, individuals who wish to engage in consulting with business associates or who wish to meet U.S. customers, attend scientific, educational, professional or business conventions or conferences, settle an estate, or negotiate a contract fall under the B-1 visa category. Periods of stay under this category are brief and only to serve the purpose of that specific business need. To qualify for this visa, visa applicants must prove that they will maintain their residency abroad during their visit to the United States and that they will return to their home country at the end of their visit. They must also prove that the trip will not involve employment in the United States and that no payments for the person’s services will be made in the U.S.
At the port of entry into the United States, the Customs and Border Patrol officer will determine the duration of authorized stay for the B-1 visit, ranging from one week to three months for business visitors. If an extension of this is needed, the applicant may apply in six month increments. If the foreign national wishes to change their status once in the United States, they can change to another status if they qualify for it.
If the foreign national wishes to apply for a change of status, he or she needs to use caution since using the B category as a stepping stone to a different status in order to avoid more stringent application procedures associated with the different status is frowned upon by immigration officers, and may cause denial or other problems with the case. Thus, the foreign national may want to seek the guidance of an experienced immigration attorney to assist with this process.
Foreigners visiting the United States temporarily for pleasure are covered by the B-2 visa. Such trips can include tourism, vacation, visit with friends or relatives, medical treatment, participation in social events hosted by fraternal, social, or service organizations, participation by amateurs in unpaid musical, sports, or similar events or contests, or enrollment in a short recreational course of study, but not for credit toward a degree, such as a two-day cooking class while on vacation. However, trips under this category cannot involve employment or academic study programs, with very few exceptions.
The duration of authorized stay for B-2 visa holders is stamped by the Customs and Border Patrol officer at the port of entry into the United States, for a minimum period of six months, regardless of the time requested at entry. Under certain circumstances, a period admission for one year can be obtained at the port of entry. Just like with the B-1 visa, extensions of stay can be requested in six month increments and changes of status can also be made.
Similarly, if the foreign national wishes to apply for a change of status, they need to use caution since using the B category as a stepping stone to a different status to avoid more stringent application procedures associated with the different status is frowned upon by immigration officers, and may cause denial or other issues. Thus, the foreign national may want to seek the guidance of an experienced immigration attorney to assist with this process.
Do you need to obtain a B-1 or B-2 visa? Is it important for you to get the B visa approved? Call us before you file! We’ll determine the best strategy to get you positive results and show you how we avoid common issues that can lead to delays and denials.
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