What Are the B-1 and B-2 Visitor Visas?
In the majority of cases, it is necessary to obtain legal permission before entering the United States for any reason. The B-1 and B-2 visitor visas are temporary, nonimmigrant visa options for individuals who wish to enter the United States for business or recreation purposes. These visas are designed for a short-term stay in the United States and do not allow the visa holder to live or work in the country on a permanent basis.
The Visa Interview Process
All B-1 and B-2 visa applicants between the ages of 14 and 79 must attend an interview at the United States consulate in their country. This interview will be conducted with a consular officer, who will ask various questions regarding the purpose of the visit, whether the applicant has ever visited the United States before, and other pertinent information about the friends, relatives, or colleagues whom they will be meeting while in the country.
There are also situations in which a person may wish to switch from one nonimmigrant status to another while located inside the United States. In such situations, it is typically necessary to file Form I-539 and schedule an interview. At the change of status interview, the applicant may be asked questions to ensure that they did not enter the country on a visitor visa with the intent to pursue other immigration channels. Above all, the USCIS will want to ensure that the applicant’s intentions were not misrepresented on their original visa application.
Requirements & Eligibility
There are specific requirements and eligibility criteria that must be met in order to qualify for both the B-1 and B-2 visitor visas. To qualify for the B-1 business visa, a person must be able to prove that they are traveling to the United States to conduct business, which may include the following activities:
- Meeting with business associates or colleagues
- Attending a scientific conference or other professional convention
- Negotiating a contract
- Meeting to negotiate with prospective investors
- Attending board meetings
- Participating in a startup business education or acceleration program
To qualify for a B-2 visa, on the other hand, one must demonstrate that their travel is for recreation. The following reasons are sufficient to meet this requirement:
- Vacation or holiday
- Visiting family or friends
- Receiving medical treatment
- Participating in social events or unpaid, amateur competitions
- Engaging in a short-term course of study, such as a cooking class
Form DS-160 is required to apply for both the B-1 and B-2 visitor visas. This form, combined with the visa interview, will be used to determine whether a person is eligible to receive a visitor visa to the United States.
What Is the Fee for Applying for a B-1 or B-2 Visa?
The application for the most common nonimmigrant visas – B1 and B-2 visitor visas included – is at the time of this writing $160. This fee is non-refundable and cannot be transferred to another person.
How Long Can I Stay in the United States with a B-1 or B-2 Visa?
The B-1 and B-2 visitor visas are designed for short-term, temporary travel to the United States. While these visas may be valid for a period of up to ten years, they only allow for a maximum stay of 6 months in the country. It is important to note that each application is assessed on its own merit, and the USCIS may grant stays that are less than six months.
Is it Possible to Extend or Renew a B-Visa?
It is possible to extend this visa, but the extension is limited to a maximum of 6 months. The application for an extension (Form I-539 Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status) must be filed before the current authorized period of stay ends. The USCIS recommends that B-1 and B-2 visa holders apply 45 days before their stay expires. Similarly, it is also possible to renew B-category visas. Depending on the circumstances, an employee or visitor may qualify for renewal through the interview waiver process, which is faster and easier than the traditional renewal process.
How to Choose the Best Visitor Visa Attorney for Your Needs
The visitor visa attorney you select to represent your needs can influence your ability to secure a visa as well as the ease and efficiency of the application process. After identifying prospective attorneys, consider connecting with them via phone or Zoom to have an initial conversation. It can be helpful to keep the following considerations in mind during these initial conversations:
- What is the attorney’s record of success, as measured by their approval rating?
- Has the attorney worked with other startup founders to secure B-category visas?
- How does the attorney plan to mitigate risks that may be present in your case?
- Is the attorney friendly, transparent, and communicative?
- Does their fee structure align with your needs?
- What is their proposed timeline for your case?
At Alcorn Immigration Law, we work closely with startup founders to craft the strongest application possible according to the rules and regulations of United States immigration law. Through our tailored legal strategies and unparalleled dedication to success, we have helped facilitate business and recreational travel for hundreds of individuals across the globe. With offices in Mountain View, CA, and New York, NY, we have the experience and resources necessary to help you secure a B-1 or B-2 visitor visa. To connect with an experienced attorney today, consider contacting Alcorn Immigration Law at +1(855) 546-0015.
Alcorn Immigration Law provides immigration legal services to companies, employees, founders, and other talent seeking an employment-based green card. Most employment-based green cards require candidates to have an employer sponsor. However, a few allow candidates to self-petition without an employer sponsor.
Short-term visitors to the U.S. can obtain visas in their home countries to come for an initial period of up to six months. B-1 Visa for Visitors for Business holders may come temporarily to engage in business activities such as negotiations, board meetings, obtaining customer orders, and incorporating a new business.
B-2 Tourist Visa for Visitors for Pleasure holders can come for tourism, rest, relaxation, medical treatments, and other purposes.
The B-1 and B-2 visas are always issued together as a B-1/B-2 visa.
If you are already in the United States, you can apply to extend your B-1 or B-2 status, or you can apply to one of these statuses from another nonimmigrant status.
Alcorn Immigration Law supports immigration for innovation. Our team can help you find the best visa option based on your circumstances and goals. We believe immigration leads to innovation.