B-1 visas cover visitors coming to the United States for business purposes, while B-2 visas are used for tourism and pleasure. By law, B visa holders may be admitted to the United States for up to six months. However, at the port of entry to the United States, the immigration officer will admit the foreign national for the amount of time appropriate for the purpose of the visit. For example, most tourists are usually admitted for 30 to 90 days. In limited circumstances, B visa holders may apply for an extension of the amount of time they are permitted to remain in the United States.
However, it is important to note that neither B-1 nor B-2 visa holders may receive salaries or other remuneration for services rendered in connection with their activities in the US. The B visa holder must have a foreign residence abroad to which s/he can demonstrate that s/he will return at the end of the visit to the United States.
Besides tourism and brief business meetings, some other common uses for the B visa are listed below:
- Prospective students coming to the United States to select or visit a school
- Visitors entering the United States for medical treatment
- Domestic partners of non-immigrants who are not eligible for derivative status
- Personal or domestic employees of US citizens temporarily visiting or temporarily stationed in the US
- Personal or domestic employees of foreign nationals in non-immigrant status
Functions or circumstances that the USCIS has determined are acceptable B-1 business activities include:
- Commercial transactions that do not involve gainful US employment (e.g. taking orders for foreign goods)
- Contract negotiation
- Installation, service, or repair of commercial/industrial equipment purchased from outside the US and/or training of US workers to perform such services
- Consultation with business associates
- Participation in scientific, educational, professional, or business conventions, conferences or seminars.
- Independent research or professional artistic activity that do not involve income form a US source
Applicants apply for B visas at the local U.S. Embassy or Consulate. Visitors from thirty-five nations are eligible for the visa waiver program and do not need a visa to enter the United States.* However, these individuals must leave the United States within 90 days and, except in very limited circumstances, may not apply to change or extend their stay from within the United States.
* These countries include Andorra, Austria, Australia, Belgium, Brunei, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Monaco, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the most recently added countries of Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, the Republic of Korea, and the Slovak Republic.
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The above discussion is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as legal advice nor does it create an attorney-client relationship. Individuals should visit a licensed attorney to evaluate the legal circumstances surrounding their situation and to receive appropriate legal advice.