B-1/B-2 Visitor Visa, Explained


Understanding the B1/B2 temporary travel visa


What is a B1/B2 visa?


The B-1/B-2 visa is a temporary, non-immigrant visa that allows 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. The B-1 visa covers business trips, while the B-2 visa covers tourism, such as vacation or visiting family.

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B-1/B-2 Visa Requirements


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/B2 visa include but are not limited to:

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

You cannot travel under this visa to engage any of the following, per the U.S. Department of State:

  • 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 B-1/B-2 visa does not grant permanent resident status — it is a temporary visa – but the holder can apply for a green card. The maximum amount of time issued for a B1/B2 visa is 180 days.

This visa allows for multiple entries into the United States.

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B-1/B-2 Visa Eligibility


To be eligible for a B-1 or B-2 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.

Documents needed to apply:

  • A passport valid for six months past the date of return
  • A recent digital photograph, which meets these 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 their home country, such as a job, property, or family

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 unless they have plans

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

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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.

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B1/B2 Visa - Visa Application Process


Applications can be processed by the United States Embassy or Consulate in your country. You can conduct an interview at an embassy or consulate in a third country but it will take longer to process the visa application.

An interview will need to be conducted before an application is fully accepted.

  • The Online Non-Immigrant Application, form DS-160, must be completed. File the form online and print the confirmation page as you will need it for your interview.
  • Upload your digital photo
  • Of course, there are fees to be paid.
  • Schedule and then attend an interview at an U.S. Consulate or Embassy in your home country. You will need to provide a receipt for all fees at your interview, as well as the confirmation page for DS-160.

As part of the process, Ink-free, digital fingerprint scans are taken. They will probably be taken during the interview, but not always. After an interview, the consular officer may determine that your application requires additional administrative processing and inform you of this.

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B1/B2 - FAQs


Who is eligible for a B-1/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 B-1/B-2 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/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 B-1/B-2 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 B-1/B-2 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 or B-2 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.