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Getting a Business Visa (B-1) or Tourist Visa (B-2)

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Every year, millions of people come to the United States as tourists or as business visitors. The U.S. wants to ensure that people wishing to conduct their business or enjoy their time in the country can do so with ease. However, it also must safeguard itself from people intending to do harm or remain in the U.S. after their visa expires. That explains why, although these visas often take only days to be approved, they can be delayed by weeks or months depending on security concerns. To ensure that an applicant is successful in obtaining their visa, it is important for them to familiarize themselves with the purposes of the two visas and the process of obtaining them.

Who Can Obtain Business and Tourist Visas?

Who can get a business visa (b-1 visa)? Those entering the U.S. for temporary business trips can get a business visa (b-1 visa). Who can get a tourist visa (b-2 visa)? Those visiting temporarily as a tourist or for medical treatment can get a tourist visa (b-2 visa).

B-1 Visas

B-1 visas allow the holder to be in the U.S. for business purposes such as:

  • Making investments,
  • Buying goods,
  • Attending seminars, or
  • Performing other temporary work for an employer located outside the U.S.

An important distinction exists between being paid from a source inside the U.S. and one outside the U.S., as the purpose of the B-1 visa is not to sponsor employment inside the U.S. Examples of activities that you are not allowed to do on B-1 visa include:

  • Paid performances,
  • Professional performances before a paying audience,
  • Activities that generate profit in the United States (such as exhibiting and selling artwork), and
  • Activities that generate work-product for a U.S. company.

B-2 Visas

B-2 visas, on the other hand, do not allow the holder to engage in business activities at all. Instead, B-2 visa holders may enter the U.S only for the purposes of pleasure or medical treatment.

How Does One Obtain a Business or Tourist Visa?

B visa holders must ensure that they are temporary visitors. If the applicant’s travel history demonstrates that they spend most of their time in the U.S., it may be enough for Customs and Border Protection to determine that the applicant is more than a temporary visitor. This determination can vary based on the circumstances, such as if the applicant has a vacation home in the U.S. Nonetheless, it is still important for the applicant to demonstrate their intent to return home after the visit concludes and that they have a job and permanent residence overseas to return to. Moreover, in applying for a temporary visitor visa, you must demonstrate sufficient ties to your foreign country.

Exception: Visa Waiver Program (VWP)

One exception to the visa requirement is the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). What is the Visa Waiver Program (VWP)? The VWP is an optional program that can give certain potential visitors a little more flexibility without the need to apply for a visa at the US Consulate abroad. Who is eligible for the Visa Waiver Program? Applicants who plan on taking short-term trips (90 days or less), have never been denied a visa, and come from one of the 41 participating countries in the VWP program are eligible to enter through this program. (The full list of participating countries can be found here: VWP visitors must present a transportation ticket to depart from the U.S. upon arrival, carry a valid passport, and obtain prior authorization through the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) online before traveling to the U.S. Those who enter through the VWP process are also not eligible to extend their stay or apply for a change of status while in the United States.

If you wish to learn more about business visa (B-1 visas) and tourist visas (B-2 visas), or need help with your particular immigration matter, reach out to our experienced immigration attorneys here at KI Legal. We are ready and able to help you navigate any immigration process you may be facing. Call (212) 404-8644 or email to get started.




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