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B-1/B-2 Visitor Visa, Explained

Understanding the B temporary travel visa

What Is a B1/B2 visa?

The B1 visa and B2 visa are temporary, non-immigrant visas that allow the holder to travel to the United States for either business or tourism purposes. Almost all reasons for temporary travel are covered by B visas except student travel, which is covered under F-1 visas.

What’s the difference between a B1 visa and a B2 visa?

The B-1 visa covers business trips, while the B-2 visa covers tourism, such as vacations or visiting family.

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B-1/B-2 Visa Cost

The government filing fee for a B visa is $160. Note this does not include the cost of gathering documents and evidence and acquiring passport photos.

Processing time

The average wait time for a B1/B2 visa interview appointment is currently two months. To check the wait time for your specific embassy or consulate, enter your city in this handy State Department tool under the section “Appointment Wait Time.” Note that if you are applying for an interview in a country other than your home country, wait times may be longer.

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The B1/B2 visa covers a variety of reasons for travel to the United States that includes both business and tourism/non-business purposes.

Reasons for travel under a B1 visa include:

  • Conducting business, such as negotiating a contract or attending business meetings
  • Attending a conference relevant to a profession, education, or current business endeavor
  • Settling an estate

Reasons for travel under a B2 visa include:

  • Engaging in tourist activities or take a vacation
  • Visiting family
  • Receiving medical treatment
  • Attending or taking part in events, such as concerts or classes, as long as there is no payment or credit given to the attendee
  • Taking a short recreational study course, such as a cooking class

You cannot travel under this visa to engage any of the following:

  • Study
  • Long-term employment by a U.S. firm
  • Paid performances, or any professional performance before a paying audience
  • Arrival as a crewmember on a ship or aircraft
  • Work as foreign press, in radio, film, print journalism, or other information media
  • Permanent residence in the United States

A B1 visa and B2 visa do not grant permanent resident status — they are temporary visas – but the holder can apply for a green card. The maximum amount of time issued for B visas is 180 days.

These visas allow for multiple entries into the United States.

Need help applying for your B1 visa or B2 visa? Check out Boundless + RapidVisa Services today!

B1/B2 Visa Eligibility

To be eligible for a B1 visa or B2 visa, the applicant must prove that the travel is temporary and they have the ability to self-fund all costs of the trip. Additionally, they must prove that they have no intent of remaining in the United States beyond their stay and abandoning a residence outside of the United States.

Note: The Visa Waiver Program allows nationals from certain countries to travel to the United States without a visa for business, tourism, or while in transit for up to 90 days. The program currently covers 38 countries and territories, including most countries in the European Union.

Canadian nationals also typically do not need a visa to enter the US for tourism purposes. Canadian nationals will need the appropriate visa if they have specific plans to study, work, or move permanently to the U.S.

Different entry requirements also apply to Canadian nationals, depending on whether they plan to work, study, invest, or immigrate. The maximum length of stay can vary, depending on circumstances, between 6 months and 1 year.

Required Documents

Documents needed to apply for a B1/B2 visa include:

  • A passport valid for six months past the date of return
  • A recent digital photograph that meets government requirements
  • Documentation of the past five previous trips to the United States, if applicable
  • Proof of funds to cover the entire cost of the trip, including travel, accommodation, and living expenses
  • Proof of binding ties to the applicant’s home country, such as a job, property, or family

B1/B2 Visa Application Process

Applications are processed by the United States Embassy or consulate in your country.

You will need to attend an interview before your visa is approved. You can attend an interview at an embassy or consulate in a third country but you will likely wait longer for a visa appointment.

  • First, you must complete the Online Non-Immigrant Application, Form DS-160. File the form online and print the confirmation page as you will need it for your interview.
  • Upload your digital photo
  • Attend the visa interview

As part of the process, ink-free, digital fingerprint scans are taken, typically at the interview. After the interview, the consular officer may request additional documents or information to make a decision about your case.


B1 visa vs B2 visa, which one is right for me?

B-1 visas are issued for short business trips, while B-2 visas are issued for tourism purpose, such as vacation or visiting family.

Who is eligible for a B-1 visa or B-2 visa?

If you’re looking to temporarily visit the U.S. for either holiday or work purposes, for example, attending a conference, touring a place or visiting relatives, then you can apply for a B-1/B-2 visa. You may need to show proof that you have ties to your home country, and that you plan on leaving the U.S..

How long can I stay in the U.S. on the B-1/B-2 visa?

When you enter the U.S., a customs officer will give you authorization to stay in the U.S. for up to six months. If you’d like to stay for longer, you may be able to apply to extend this for up to one year.

How do I extend my stay on the B1 visa or B2 visa?

If you are nearing the end of your permitted stay in the U.S., then you may wish to extend it, especially since there can be future consequences if you stay in the U.S. longer than you were allowed to.

If you’re on a B-1 visa or a B-2 visa, you can request to extend your stay up to one year. To do this, you will need to file Form I-539 to extend or change your status. It’s recommended that you apply to extend your status at least 45 days before your authorized stay expires, so make sure you’re thinking ahead.

Can I work in the U.S. on a B-1 / B-2 visa?

No. While you can enter the U.S. for business purposes, you cannot work or be employed by a U.S. employer. If you’re interested in working in the U.S. for a U.S. employer, you may be interested in other visa categories, such as the H-1B visa.

How can I renew my B1 visa or B2 visa?

If you would like to renew your B-1/B-2 visa, then you will need to go through the original process. Depending on the U.S. embassy or consulate where you apply, you may be able to complete your visa renewal without the need for an interview.

Should I apply for a B-1/B-2 visa or an ESTA?

If you are a citizen of one of the 38 countries that are part of the Visa Waiver Program, then you have the option of applying for an ESTA instead of a B1 visa or B2 visa.

Both allow you to enter the U.S. for the same reasons of tourism or business, but you can apply for the ESTA online. Entering the U.S. this way only permits you to stay for up to 90 days, however, so if you would like to stay in the U.S. for travel or business purposes for longer, the B-1/B-2 visitor visa may be an option for you.

Do Canadian citizens need a B-1/B-2 visa?

For casual business or tourism travel, most Canadian citizens don’t need a visa and will automatically be admitted on a B-1 visa or B-2 visa category.

Is the B-1/B-2 visa an immigrant or non-immigrant visa?

The B-1/B-2 visa is a non-immigrant visa, but if your circumstances change, for example, you marry a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, there are several paths from a visitor visa to a green card. Learn more to see how Boundless can help you avoid major headaches and make the process easier.