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BUSINESS/TOURIST
VISAS (B-1/2) /
VISA WAIVER PROGRAM

B VISAS

Foreigners intending to make a short visit to the United States (six months or less) for certain specified business or tourist purposes may wish to apply for B-1 Business Visitor Visa or B-2 Tourist Visitor Visa. 

Process: The B Visa is generally obtained through an application made at a US consulate in the foreign party’s home country.  It often includes a brief interview with the applicant to ascertain the planned activities during the US visit, to ensure that the applicant qualifies for the requested visa.

Authorized Activities: Individuals present in the US on a B-1 Business Visa may lawfully undertake the following activities:

  • Business consultations with associates or customers
  • Attend training, conferences, or conventions
  • Managing sales/purchases
  • Negotiating contracts
  • Undertake independent research
  • Make an investment to start a business (pathway to E2 visas)
  • Open up a branch office of foreign company (pathway to L1 visa)
  • Conduct business activities as long as not being paid by a US source
  • Missionary or volunteer service work for a non-profit organization

Individuals present in the US on a B-2 Tourist Visa may lawfully undertake the following activities:

  • General tourist activities (sightseeing, etc.)
     

  • Visiting friends and family
     

  • Freely travel within the United States
     

Length of Stay: Persons admitted to the United States in a B Visa category are usually granted anywhere from a 3 to a 6-month stay, which is the maximum length of time permitted.  The immigration officer at the port of entry determines how long each visitor is allowed to stay in the country.  Upon entry into the United States, the foreign visitor has the right to request an extension of stay. 

Extension of Stay Information: Foreign nationals visiting the United States on a B-1 Business Visa or on a B-2 Tourist Visa are issued an I-94 form by a United States immigration officer upon entry into the country.  The I-94 Form is a small white card which displays the bearer's arrival and departure dates and location of entry into the United States.  There is a possibility of an extension for up to six additional months; however, this is contingent upon the approval of the extension application by the USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services).

 

VISA WAIVER PROGRAM

Visa Waiver Program General Information: Another option for foreign individuals wishing to temporarily visit the US is the Visa Waiver Program, or VWP.  The VWP enables citizens of 36 countries (see list below) to travel to the United States for tourism or business for stays of 90 days or less without obtaining a visa. The program was established in 1986 with the objective of promoting better relations between the United States and its allies, eliminating unnecessary barriers to travel, stimulating the tourism industry, and permitting the Department of State to focus consular resources in other areas. Visa Waiver eligible travelers may apply for a United States Visa if they prefer, but it is not required for stays up to 90 days.  The VWP includes certain passport and eligibility requirements that must be fulfilled before entering the United States.  

Countries participating in the Visa Waiver Program:

Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brunei, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom.

 

CHANGE OF STATUS

Individuals who enter the United States on B Visas are normally eligible to change status to permanent resident (Green Card holder) if they qualify, or to other non-immigrant statuses, including temporary workers (H-1B, H-2B, E-1, E-2, E-3), and student (F-1 Student Visa).  Individuals who enter the United States under the Visa Waiver Program are not eligible to change status.  The option to change status is one of the major advantages of a Nonimmigrant Visa compared to visas obtained through the VWP.