While there are many different types of non-immigrant visas that a foreign national may apply for, possibly, the first, and most common type of visa applied for, is the B Visa. This visa comes in two forms, both of which have their own particular does and don’ts, which ultimately will determine which is the best fit for you. This is especially true if you need to come into the states on business grounds.
WHAT IS A B-VISA?
The B Visa is a temporary, non-immigrant visa that allows the holder to travel to the United States. The visa typically will allow a traveler to come in on tourist or business purposes based on which of the two visa types that the individual may possess. It should be noted, however, that under neither of these two visa classifications is birth tourism valid, i.e. the purpose of visiting the United States to give birth to a child so that they may obtain US citizenship. If a consular officer has any reason to believe that a party may only be coming to the United States to give birth to their child as their primary purpose, they may deny their B Visa outright.
If an individual possesses a B-1 visa, they generally will be allowed in on business grounds. USCIS considers that an individual may be eligible for a B-1 visa if they are participating in a business activity of qualifying or commercial nature. Some of the qualifying activities are as follows:
- Consulting with business associates
- Traveling for a scientific, educational, professional or business convention, or a conference on specific dates
- Settling an estate
- Negotiating a contract
- Participating in short-term training
- Transiting through the United States: certain persons may transit the United States with a B-1 visa
- Deadheading: certain air crewmen may enter the United States as deadhead crew with a B-1 visa
- Attending or taking part in events as long as there is no payment or credit given to the attendee
This list is not exhaustive and there are potentially many additional qualifying activities that an individual may qualify for a B-1 visa through.
Additionally, an individual applying for a B-1 visa must also be able to: demonstrate that they plan to remain for a specific limited period of time; they have sufficient funds to cover the expenses of the trip and their stay in the United States; they have a residence outside the United States that they have no intention of abandoning, as well as other binding ties that will ensure they return abroad at the end of the visit; and that they are otherwise admissible to the United States.
If an individual wishes to obtain a B-1 visa, they may obtain a B-1 visa for an initial period of up to six months. The visa may then be extended for an additional six months up to a maximum of one year.
Moreover, it is important to note that a B-1 visa holder’s family is not eligible for dependent visas based on the holder’s status. They will need to obtain a separate B-2 visa and follow all associated guidelines and regulations for that visa.
If the individual possesses a B-2 visa, they generally will be allowed in on tourism or pleasure grounds. USCIS considers that an individual may be eligible for a B-2 visa on the grounds that their entry into the United States is for recreational or pleasure purposes. There are a number of activities which would qualify a party for a B-2 visa, some of which are:
- Visiting friends or relatives
- Obtaining Medical treatment
- Participation in social events hosted by fraternal, social, or service organizations
- Participation by amateurs in musical, sports, or similar events or contests, if not being paid for participating
- Enrollment in a short recreational course of study, not for credit toward a degree (for example, a two-day cooking class while on vacation)
Much like the B-1 Visa, there are possibly many more activities that may be a qualifying activity for the award of a visa and, thus, it is suggested that you speak with a qualified immigration attorney if you have questions or concerns about whether the activity in which you are attempting to partake in qualifies for the specific visa type.
Also, like the B-1 visa, the temporary visa is ultimately issued for a period of six months. All other additional requirements found in the B-1 also apply to the B-2.
APPLYING FOR B-1/B-2 VISA
For individuals looking to obtain a B-1 or B-2 visa, there is a specific process in which they must go through in order to apply for their visa. Generally, applications for either of the two visas may be processed by the appropriate US embassy or consulate in their country or abroad but will almost always begin with the filing of a DS-160, Online Non-Immigrant Application. Additionally, upon completion of their online application, the applicant will need to upload a photo.
Following the submission of the application, the applicant will need schedule an interview for the visa at their consulate or embassy. Most individuals will need to go through the interview process, however, for individuals who are 13 and under, the interview is usually unnecessary as well as for people who are over the age of 80. Granted, despite this, consular officers may still require an interview from anyone.
When it comes time for the individual interview, the applicant should bring a number of items with them in order to help consular officers make a decision about their visa. The items that must be brought include:
- Passport valid for travel to the United States – Your passport must be valid for at least six months beyond your period of stay in the United States (unless exempt by country-specific agreements). Each individual who needs a visa must submit a separate application, including any family members listed in your passport.
- Nonimmigrant Visa Application, Form DS-160 confirmation page.
- Application fee payment receipt, if you are required to pay before your interview.
- Photo – If the photo upload fails, you must bring one printed photo in the requested format by the consulate or embassy.
Additionally, there are a number of items that we suggest that an applicant bring with them in order to better their chances of being approved. These items include:
- Letter describing the purpose of their trip
- Documentation of intent to depart the United States following the conclusion of their trip
- Documentation of ability to cover the expenses of the trip and their stay in the United States or documentation that another individual will be covering the expenses of the trip and subsequent stay in the United States
- Any documentation that shows ties to their home country such as employment or family records which would indicate a necessity to return to their home country at the conclusion of the visit to the United States
It should be noted that this is a general breakdown of the application and interview process and each individual consulate or embassy may have a different procedure for how they will deal with the application and interview process. Thus, it is recommended that an applicant review the appropriate guidelines and procedures for their consulate or embassy as needed.
Additionally, while it is possible to interview for the visa in a consulate outside of the country of residence in which the applicant lives, it may be more difficult to obtain a visitor visa from that country thus it is recommended to consult with a professional before making the decision to do so.
This article is a general overview over the B visa and the process for obtaining it and should not be viewed as being a comprehensive outline and is not substitute for professional advice. If you are contemplating applying for a B Visa or if you have questions concerning the visa, the interview, or what you can or cannot do while on the B visa, you can set up a consultation with any of our Reddy & Neumann, P.C. attorneys.