The Importance of an American Visa B1-B2

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B-1 and B2 visas are temporary visas that are used for travel, holidays or short-term work.

B-1 Visas

A B-1 visa is a visa for short-term business. These visas are valid for up to one year. However, these visas are usually granted for six months. Applicants may be able to obtain a six-month extension for the visit. Sometimes a person with a B-1 visa may be able to adjust their status to another type of visa so long as they apply at the proper United States Embassy or Consulate.

A person may apply for a B-1 visa for a number of business-related transactions, such as to conduct negotiations, to attend business meetings, to interview applicants, to hire staff, to solicit sales or business investments, to make investments, to make capital expenditures or to conduct research. Certain business-related transactions are prohibited for the use of this visa, such as operating a business, having gainful employment, participating in entertainment of sporting events in a professional capacity or being paid by an organization within the United States.

B-1 Instead of H-1B

In very limited circumstances, the United States Consulate may grant a B-1 visa when an H-1B work visa would typically be required. For example, an international company may want to place a worker on a limited project for a client based in the United States. The company may need an employee from an affiliate company or subsidiary to work on a short-term project. By going through the B-1 visa process, the employer may be able to take advantages of a cheaper and easier method rather than attempting to obtain an H-1B visa, which is significantly more complicated than a B-1 visa.

B-2 Visas

A B-2 visa is a visa that is used for travel, pleasure or a medical treatment. Travelers on a B-2 visa are generally not permitted to work or be a student while on the visa.

Eligibility Criteria

To qualify for a B-1 or B-2 visa, an applicant must meet eligibility criteria under the Immigration and Nationality Act. This includes demonstrating that the purpose of the trip is for business, vacation, pleasure or medical treatment and that the timing of the stay is for a specific and limited time period. Additionally, the applicant must show that he or she has a residence in another country and ties to the community that demonstrate that he or she will leave after the visit.

Application for a B-1 or B-2 Visa

Applicants for B-1 or B-2 visas must apply at the American Embassy or Consulate that has jurisdiction over their residence. The applicant must complete an application. He or she must supply a valid passport that will remain valid for at least six months past the date of when the visit is supposed to end. The applicant must also include a passport photo. The applicant must include an application fee. Additionally, the applicant may include information about the purpose of the trip and documentation that indicates this and the short-term nature of the travel. If the visa is a B-1 visa, the applicant may include a letter from the business in the United States that specifies the purpose of the trip, the expected length of the stay and the business’ intent to pay these travel costs. If it is a B-2 visa for pleasure, the applicant may include letters from relatives or friends that state that the applicant plans to visit them. Documentation from a tour may be provided. If the purpose of the trip is for medical treatment, a doctor’s statement or medical facility documentation may supplement the application. If the applicant does not have sufficient funds to support himself or herself while in the country, he or she must submit evidence that someone else will be supporting the applicant while in the United States.

Visa Waiver Program

Some individuals may be eligible for the visa waiver program which allows them to come to the United States without a visa. This program is only available for individuals who plan to stay in the country for less than 90 days and who come from a qualified country, such as Australia, Spain, the United Kingdom or Switzerland.

Individuals applying for the visa waiver program cannot work or study in the United States. They cannot stay for more than 90 days or adjust their status to another visa category while in the United States.

Immigrants traveling to the United States for a short time may wish to contact an experienced immigration lawyer for assistance.


Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer.

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