Visitors – B1 & B2 Visa
BUSINESS & TOURIST (B1 / B2) VISAS
B1/B2 visas are nonimmigrant visas and must be applied for by submitting a completed and Form DS-160 online prior to your interview at the Embassy or Consulate. Please click here for an overview on the online application process.
B-1 / Business visas
The B-1 or Business Visitor’s Visa is a permit issued by the U.S. Govt. to a foreigner who intends to enter the U.S. for such period of time as may be necessary to conduct and conclude a ‘business activity’. Such foreigners, entering the U.S. in this category, may do so, provided, their objective is to participate in a legitimate activity. Persons in this category are usually given a period of entry of three months, but this is at the discretion of the USCIS officer at the port-of-entry and he/she may grant a lesser period if he/she thinks fit.
Although, the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) elaborates on the definition of a ‘business visitor’ as an alien who is visiting the U.S. and who has a residence in a foreign country which he has no intention of abandoning, the exact connotation of the term ‘business’ is nowhere to be found in either the INA or its regulations. The Department of State (DOS) on the other hand, defines the term ‘business’ in its Foreign Affairs Manual (FAM) as conventions, conferences, consultations and other legitimate activities of a commercial or professional nature but does not involve local employment or labor for hire. In order for an activity to be acceptable as a ‘legitimate’ activity, for the purpose of obtaining a B-1 Visa, it must be connected to an ‘international’ commercial or business activity. Over the years, the common basis to evaluate the proposed business activity as ‘International’ has generally been held to be as follows:
- An obvious intention displayed by the foreigner to carry on residing at his foreign residence;
- The place where the profits will accumulate and the principal place of business are in a foreign country;
- The foreigner is paid a remuneration from outside the U.S.;
- The foreigner is a business person or, if employed, is pursuing an activity in furtherance of international trade or commerce; and
- The foreigner’s intent to stay in the U.S. is of a temporary nature, even if the business activity is not.
The FAM also declares that B-1 status would also be available to a foreigner who is entering the U.S. to:
- Take part in scientific, educational, professional or business conventions, conferences or seminars:
- consult business associates;
- discuss contracts;
- carry out independent research;
- participate in such commercial transactions which do not involve profitable employment in the U.S.
- settle an estate
Assumption by Govt. that B-1 Applicants Have Intentions to Immigrate
The U.S. Govt., generally assumes that a B-1 applicant intends to permanently reside in the U.S. In view of the same, the applicant is required to:
- reveal his financial records, to convince the Govt. that he has sufficient resources to avoid any sort of employment offered to him;
- present detailed and accurate plans for the forthcoming visit;
- state a definite period for which he proposes to stay;
- show that the proposed period of the visit is consistent with the purpose of the visit;
- establish with a fair amount of conviction that he shall certainly depart on concluding his temporary visit; and
- establish an adequate relationship between himself and his country of domicile, e.g. close ties with his family, employment, business links, proof of a residence owned by him.
With regard to the above, it is imperative for the B-1 applicant to keep the following documents ready to be handed over to the officer at an overseas U.S. consulate, while applying for the B-1 visa:
- a supporting letter from the employers explaining the purpose of the trip, with details of the itinerary and that they shall continue paying the applicant’s salary from outside the U.S. and a guarantee that the employee will continue to be employed with them;
- an invitation letter from the client(s) in the U.S. to the foreign company to conduct business with them;
- a Company Catalogue describing the foreign company; and
- return air tickets illustrating the applicant’s objective to return to his country of domicile.
In practical terms, the profile of the employee applying for a B-1 Visa is also important. A very junior or recently hired employee is more likely to be refused than an older employee or one who has been with the Company many years.
B-2 / Tourist Visas
The B-2 or Tourist Visitor’s Visa is a permit issued by the U.S. Govt. to a foreigner who intends to enter the U.S. for a short period of time for the purpose of a holiday. Persons in this category are usually given a period of entry of six months, but this is at the discretion of the USCIS officer at the port-of-entry and he/she may grant a lesser period if he/she thinks fit.
There are five basic requirements for being granted this visa:
- The alien is entering the U.S. for a limited duration and will depart at the end of a temporary visit.
- The alien maintains a foreign residence that he/she has no intention of abandoning while in the U.S.
- The alien has adequate financial arrangements to travel to, sojourn in and depart from the U.S.
- The alien will engage solely in activities relating to pleasure.
- The alien will not engage in employment of any kind in the U.S.
Assumption By Govt. that B-2 Applicants Have Intentions to Immigrate
Tourists must be able to convince the Consular Officer that they have no intention of remaining in the United States other than for a brief visit. Suggested documents would include:
- Confirmed return ticket
- Confirmed hotel reservations
- Tour bookings
- Letter of invitation from a U.S. source
- Family ties in his/her home country
- Property and financial holdings in his/her home country
- Business interests outside the U.S.
These requirements are likely to vary depending on the country of nationality of the alien. Aliens from countries that have a high rate of overstay, require more details to convince the officer of their non-immigrant intent, especially if they are young, single and well educated as these persons are considered ‘high risk’ cases.
This visa is issued to persons who travel regularly on both business and pleasure. The requirements are the same as the individual B-1 or B-2 visas.
Pending Immigrant Visas
Persons who have a permanent resident application pending may sometimes want to visit the U.S. on business or for pleasure during this time. Although in theory, a B visa is permitted to be given, in actual fact, the visa is very often refused, since it is difficult to demonstrate the required ‘non-immigrant intent’ when there is a pending immigrant application for the individual. Therefore, it is very important, in these cases, to have enough documentation to convince the officer of his/her genuine intent.
The information in this article is of a general nature and may not apply to any specific or particular circumstance. It is not to be construed as legal advice and does not establish an attorney-client relationship between Jethmalani & Nallaseth and the viewer.