B-1 & B-2 Visas

Generally, a citizen of a foreign country who wishes to enter the United States must first obtain a visa, either a nonimmigrant visa for temporary stay, or an immigrant visa for permanent residence.

The “B” visitor visa is a nonimmigrant visa for persons desiring to enter the United States temporarily for business (B-1), or for pleasure or medical treatment (B-2).

Persons planning to travel to the U.S. for a different purpose such as students, temporary workers, crewmen, journalists, etc., must apply for a different visa in the appropriate category. The consular officer can provide additional information.

Applicants for visitor visas must show that they qualify under provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act. The presumption in the law is that every visa applicant is an intending immigrant. Therefore, applicants for visitor visas must overcome this presumption by demonstrating that:

  • The purpose of their trip is to enter the U.S. for business, pleasure, or medical treatment;
  • That they plan to remain for a specific, limited period; and
  • That they have a residence outside the U.S. as well as other binding ties which will insure their return abroad at the end of the visit.

B-1 Visa

A B-1 visa is for a person employed abroad to come to the U.S. temporarily on business to attend business meetings or trade shows, buy goods, conduct research, and so forth. A foreign national may be admitted for a period of a few weeks up to six months. Extension for an additional six months is possible for good reason. A B-1 visa holder may take no compensation directly or indirectly from a U.S. company. If a U.S. company employs a B-1 visa holder, the company may be committing an I-9 violation and the visa holder may be deportable. A B-1 visa holder may be admitted to install, service, or repair imported equipment, provided the sales contract so states.

B-2 Visa

A B-2 visa is a tourist visa, which allows for admission to the U.S. for a few days up to six months. The DOS rules also permit a domestic partner (same or opposite sex) to use a B-2 visa to accompany a nonimmigrant visa holder – e.g., an E-2, H-1B, or L-1. Admission for this purpose is usually for one year with extensions possible every six months. Saudi princes can even bring multiple wives.