Visitor Visa (B1/B2)
By Nimsy Garcia on 16 Apr 2021
Last updated on 4 Jan 2022
B Visas (or visitor visas) are a type of nonimmigrant visa for foreign travelers that want to temporarily visit the United States for business (B-1 visa), pleasure (B-2 visa) or both (B-1/B-2).
The following is an overview of both visas and the visa application process. The requirements of B visas vary depending on the country and visa applicant.
My father enjoying the travel benefits of US citizenship in
Charleston, South Carolina.
The B-1 Visa is for temporary business visitors. Some examples of the permitted business activities as a B-1 visa holder include:
Engaging in commercial transactions
Consulting with business associates
Participating in scientific, educational, professional, or business conventions, conferences, or seminars
Undertaking independent research
There are other accepted business activities, however, the purpose of a business visit cannot be to engage in employment in the U.S.
The B-2 Visa is for temporary visitors for pleasure.
Some examples of permitted activities include:
Tourism or family visits
Receiving medical treatments
Participating in social events
Engaging in short and incidental study courses
Other circumstances may be permitted which apply to U.S. military dependents, amateur entertainers and athletes participating in a social event, or fiancés of U.S. citizens, permanent residents or certain nonimmigrants.
If you have different intentions for visiting the U.S. than those listed above, consider contacting an attorney to determine the other immigration options available to you.
USD $160, Visa Application Processing Fee
Other fees may depend on the country and circumstances
Varies depending on the country (Check Appointment Processing Wait Time)
Complete the visa application online
Prepare for the interview
Attend the interview
Arrive to the
This visa application process begins with the submission of a completed DS-160, Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application, to a U.S. Consulate. The form requires an upload of a passport-style photograph and payment of the appropriate visa application fees. After this, the applicant must schedule an interview at the U.S. Consulate. Applicants seeking a visitor visa should be ready to present required documents and documents establishing eligibility. Interviews can be quick so applicants should be prepared to provide concise explanations for their trip and establish the requirements under U.S. law to receive the visa. The officer might immediately approve or deny the application, or hold the application for further processing. If the B-1 or B-2 visa application is approved, then the B-1 and B-2 visas are normally issued together and can be used for either purpose. Once the applicant receives the visitor visa, they can arrange travel to the U.S.
Entering the U.S.
A visitor visa does not guarantee entry into the U.S. A visitor visa only allows travel to a U.S. port-of-entry and the ability to request permission to enter the U.S. Upon arrival, a U.S. Custom and Border Protection (CBP) officer will conduct an additional interview to ensure the traveler meets the admissibility requirements under U.S. law. If the CBP officer is satisfied, then entry into the U.S. will be granted.
A visitor visa can be granted for 1 to 10 years or a specific number of entries. Each entry to the U.S. is typically granted for 6 months.
The B1/B2 application process can be simple, but an immigration attorney can help provide clarification, ensure U.S. legal requirements are met and help meet personal deadlines.
Below are special circumstances where you may find it beneficial to speak to an experienced immigration attorney.
Denials and Rejections
A B visa application is rejected when an applicant fails to properly complete the application or does not submit sufficient supporting documents. The U.S. consulate does not review the applicant’s visa eligibility and instead, requests the applicant submit the proper paperwork or file a completely new application.
A B visa application is denied (or refused) when a U.S. consular officer finds that the applicant has not satisfied the eligibility requirements under U.S. immigration law or has fraudulent intentions. Note, if you are found ineligible for a visa, the visa application processing fee is nonrefundable.
Hiring an immigration attorney can help you avoid time-consuming and costly mistakes, such as being unprepared or providing insufficient information, or applying for the wrong visa.
A visitor visa is normally granted for 6 months but can be extended under some circumstances for an additional 6 months. In these cases, it is crucial applicants pay attention to visa visitor requirements to ensure compliance with U.S. immigration law.
If you decide to stay longer than your visitor visa allows, you should apply for an extension to avoid violating the conditions of your visa.
Pending Immigrant Visa Petition
It can be difficult for foreign visitors to successfully apply for a B visa if they have a pending immigrant visa petition. This is because visitors must establish that they do not have an intent to remain in the U.S. permanently after the visitor visa expires.
Given the heightened scrutiny, individuals with a pending immigrant visa should be certain that their visitor visa intentions adhere to U.S. immigration laws.
Visa Waiver Program
The Visa Waiver Program allows business and leisure visitors from certain countries to enter the U.S. without applying for a B visa. However, a visit to the U.S. is limited to 3 months and cannot be extended under the VWP (unless there is an emergency).
Thus, a VWP applicant must ensure the proper visa is applied for if wanting to enter the U.S. with other intentions than for business or travel.