- Q: What is B Visa?
- Q: What is the Visa Waiver Program and does it apply to B visas?
- Q: Can I seek employment while in the United States on a B visa?
- Q: What requirements should I satisfy in order to be eligible for a B Visa?
- Q: How do I apply for a B-1/B-2 Visa?
- Q: I submitted all the required documents and yet I was denied a B visa. Why was my application not accepted?
- Q: I am a B-1/B-2 Visa holder. Can I register for academic program with my current visa?
- Q: How long am I allowed to remain in the U.S. with a B-1/B-2 Visa?
- Q: I have a valid visa, but my passport has reached its expiration date. should I apply for a new visa with a new passport?
- Q: I married and obtained a new passport in my married name, but my B-1/B-2 visa is in my old passport, which is in my maiden name. Must I apply for a new visa before I can travel to the U.S.?
A: B visa is one of the categories of temporary non-immigrant visas. It is issued to those that want to enter into the United States for business or for leisure purposes. There are two types of B visas, namely, B-1 and B-2. The former is issued to those that are seeking entry into the U.S. for business purposes, while the latter is issued to those that are seeking entry into the U.S. for leisure or tourism. However, these two types of visas are normally not issued differently. They are jointly issued as a B-1/B-2 visa. So, if you apply for one, you will also be issued with the other. In other words, if you are allowed entry into the U.S. for business purposes, you can also use your visa for tourism and vice versa.
The validity period of B visas differ from one country to another. Check the website of the U.S. Department of State Visa Reciprocity Table for the validity period allowed for your country. In general, the validity ranges from 1 to 10 years. The period of stay in the U.S. for a visit ranges from 3 to 6 months. A B visa can be used for multiple entries in so far as it has not expired.
If you are seeking entry into the U.S. for business reasons for the first time, you may be allowed to stay in the U.S. for a period of time long enough to enable you conduct your business. However, the maximum period of stay allowed per visit is 6 months. But you can also apply for another 6 month extension if you need more time to conduct your business. On the other hand, the B-2 visas are issued for a period of stay of 6 months. There is also the possibility of extending your period of stay if you have not violated any of the terms and conditions for its issuance.
If you are in the U.S. with a B-1 visa, you are allowed to negotiate business, discuss planned purchases or investment, solicit sales or investment, attend and participate fully in meetings, conduct business research, and interview and hire staff. However, there are some restrictions and limitations to what a B visa holder can do. You are not allowed to look for employment, run a business in the U.S., or to take part in sporting and entertainment events as a professional.
Just like other non-immigrant visas for temporary entry into the U.S., you can apply for a B visa at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate from any country. But it is advisable to apply from your country of origin or your country of permanent residence. It is much more likely for your application to be considered if you apply from a country where you are a citizen or a country of your permanent residence.
Note that people that come under the visa waiver scheme or citizens from certain countries are not required to apply for B visa if they want to enter U.S. for business or leisure purposes. But their period of stay is limited to three months or less.
For detailed information on the options available to you and for expert help on your immigration process, you should contact our office and speak with our experienced and professional lawyer.Q: What is the Visa Waiver Program and does it apply to B visas?
A: The Visa Waiver Program, abbreviated as VWP, is a program of the government of the U.S. which grants entry into the U.S. to citizens of some countries for business, tourism, or while in transit for duration of about 90 days. Citizens of those countries allowed to come to the U.S. under this scheme are not required to apply for a visa before they can enter the U.S. for the purposes stipulated above.
Thirty-eight countries are chosen by the U.S. government to be in this program. They are Australia, Belgium, Andorra, Denmark, Finland, Austria, France, Iceland, Ireland, Germany, Italy, Liechtenstein, Japan, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Monaco, Norway, New Zealand, Portugal, Singapore, San Marino, Spain, Slovenia, the UK, Sweden and Switzerland. Other are South Korea, Latvia, Chile, Brunei, Belgium, Czech Republic, Estonia, Taiwan, Lithuania, Malta, Slovakia, and Slovenia. The U.S. government has the right to remove any country from this program. Given this, before applying for entry into the U.S. under the VWP, you should make sure that your country eligibility for participation in the program has not been terminated.
To be allowed entry under visa waiver scheme, you must be a citizen of any of the countries mentioned above. If you are resident permanently in any of the above-mentioned countries, you are not qualified to enter into the U.S. for either business or leisure under this visa waiver scheme. You should apply for a B-1/B-2 visa if you are seeking for entry into the U.S. for business or leisure purposes.
Requirements for the visa waiver program: Before you are allowed entry into the U.S. under the VWP, you must meet certain requirements. You must have your individual machine-readable and biometric passport, which must contain your digitalized photograph. Your passport should also be valid at least 6 months beyond the date you are expected to leave the U.S. Recently, the U.S. government has reached an agreement with certain countries to remove this requirement. So, check if your country is involved in this agreement.
Before you leave for the U.S. under the VWP, you are required to complete the online form I-94W. It is advisable to do this at least 3 days or 72 hours in advance. However, completion of I-94W form does not guarantee you entry into the U.S. Your eligibility for entry into the U.S. is determined by the CBP officers at the port of entry. If you are entering the U.S. either by sea or air, you must have a valid return ticket and you must be travelling on a participating airline or commercial carrier.
For further information on this and other options available to you and for expert help on your immigration process, you should contact our office and speak with our experienced and professional lawyer.Q: Can I seek employment while in the United States on a B visa?
A: No, you are not allowed to work with either B-1 or B-2 visas. However, under certain situations, a holder of B-1 visa may be allowed to work legally in the U.S. In this regard, you will be issued with an employment authorized B-1 visa by the U.S. Embassy. The permission for employment applies specifically to circumstances where a company or a business needs a non-U.S. business to carry out a particular project for them for a limited period or where a business wants an employee of a foreign subsidiary, parent, or affiliate to carry out a specific project in the U.S. for a limited period of time.
There are requirements to be met before an employment authorized B-1 visa can be issued to a person. First, to be allowed to work in the U.S. with a B-1 visa, you must possess an H1-B visa also. This means that you can only undertake employment in a specific occupation, that is the work must fall under H1-B level. The employee coming to the U.S. to work under this arrangement must have a permanent employment with the business sending him or her. Employees under contract do not qualified for employment with B-1 in lieu of an H-1 visa. The employee should be paid by the foreign employer and not the U.S. employer that he or she would be working for the duration allowed. In other words, the worker may not be entitled to any remuneration from the U.S. business, except expenses made for the U.S. business in the course of the work. The employee must qualify for the work to be done. This means that he or she should have the required degree for the work to be done. Work experience here does not substitute for a degree.
B-1 in lieu of H-1 visa may require more supporting documents than an ordinary B-1 visa. The processing time for this visa depends on the country you apply from but, generally, it may take 1 to 2 weeks to be processed and issued to the applicants. Your application will be issued by the U.S. Embassy if you satisfy all the requirements as well as terms and conditions for issuance of B-1 in lieu of H-1B.
Note that holders of this visa may encounter some problems at the port of entry. However, this is very rare. This is because every visa issued by the U.S. Embassy in any country is subject to approval and recognition of an officer of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) at the port of entry.
For detailed information on the options available to you and for expert help on your immigration process, you should contact our office and speak with our experienced and professional lawyer.Q: What requirements should I satisfy in order to be eligible for a B Visa?
A: The requirements for the issuance of a B visa depend on the type you are applying for.
If you are applying for a B-1 visa, you should meet the following requirements. First, you have prove to the satisfaction of the U.S. immigration officer handling your application that your intention to enter into the U.S. is for a business purpose that does not include labor for hire or local employment. You must show that you will only stay in the U.S. for a specific time period and prove your intention to keep your residence outside of the United States and maintain other binding ties in your country of origin, which will serve as a proof that you will come back home at the expiration of your visa. You are also required to show evidence of sufficient funds to afford your accommodation, food, and other basic expenses in the U.S.
You are eligible to apply for a B-1 visa if you want to consult with a business associates, participate in a required medical clerkship without any remuneration, embark on independent research which does not benefit any U.S. institution, or participate in educational, professional scientific or business conventions, seminars, or conferences.
If you apply for a B-2 visa, you must demonstrate to the satisfaction of a consular officer that your aim of coming into the U.S. is for tourism, leisure, or medical treatment and that you plan to stay in the U.S. for a specific period of time, at the end of which you will come back to your home country. You are also required to demonstrate that you have sufficient funds to cover the cost of your travel and living expenses during your stay in the U.S. Applicants for a B-2 visa are also required to prove their intent to maintain a residence in their home country or country of permanent residence and also to keep to other binding ties in their native country which will ensure that they return home before or at the expiration of their stay in the U.S.
You are eligible to apply for the B-2 visa if you are coming to the U.S. for tourism, pleasure, leisure, or for a social visit to relatives or friends, incidental study, medical treatment, or to visit a partner if you are in a cohabitation relationship and you are not qualified for dependent status. You can also apply for the B-2 visa if you are a participant in a convention of social organizations.
For further information on this and on other options available to you and for expert help on your immigration process, you should contact our office and speak with our experienced and professional lawyer.Q: How do I apply for a B-1/B-2 Visa?
A: Before you apply for a B-1/B-2 visa, you should get all the necessary documents ready. If you are coming to the U.S. on invitation, the person or business or institution inviting you should send you an invitation letter which you must present to the consular officer on the interview day. You will be required to have the following documents in order to apply for a B visa: proof that you are eligible for B-1/B-2 visa, proof of sufficient fund to afford your travel bills and other expenses throughout your stay in the U.S., proof of your intent to come back to your native country before or on the expiration of your allowed period of stay, as well as the proof of residence in your local country (house mortgage, employment. and other ties can be used as proof here), a passport which should be at least 6 months valid beyond your intended period of stay, one 2x2 passport photograph, and Form DS 160 (available online), as well as Form DS-157 if it is applicable to your situation.
When you have all the documents ready, you should make all the necessary payments, which include the non-refundable non-immigrant visa application fee. Some citizens of certain countries may be required to pay an additional fee, called visa issuance reciprocity fee. When you have made the payments, the date for the interview (which is required) will be fixed. The consular officer interviewing you will ask for the documents mentioned above and the printed copy of your appointment letter and confirmation page of your DS-160. It is totally left for the consular officer to determine your eligibility for a B visa. There are situations where some applicants have submitted all the required documents and yet they are denied entry into the U.S. This is because the U.S. consular officer that handled their applications considered various factors including their professional, cultural, social situations, and others in order to judge whether or not to issue them a B-1/B-2 visa. Therefore, you may be denied entry based on other factors. If you are denied entry into the U.S. for any reason under the B visa category, there is no room for appeal. However, you can re-apply.
Note that U.S. embassies in some countries may require additional documents. So, it is advisable that you confirm from the U.S. Embassy in your country, or any country you are applying from, what documents are required from B visa applicants. Alternatively, you can check their website to find out their requirements for a B visa. The processing time for B visas vary from country to country, depending on certain circumstances, such as the number of applications to be handled during the period.
For detailed information on the options available to you and for expert help on your immigration process, you should contact our office and speak with our experienced and professional lawyer.Q: I submitted all the required documents and yet I was denied a B visa. Why was my application not accepted?
A: The decision to accept or refuse an application totally depends on the discretion of the consular officer handling your application. Submitting all the necessary documents and supporting documents is just one factor out of the many factors the consular officer considers when judging a candidate’s eligibility for a B-1/B-2 visa. There are other factors considered, as mentioned above. However, applicants for B visas, as well as applicants for other types of visas, are not denied visas indiscriminately by the consular officers. They are obliged by the law to issue a visa to any applicant that meets all the necessary requirements or that qualifies for it.
There are a number of reasons under which B-1/B-2 visas can be refused to an applicant. For example, an applicant that submitted false documents or that lied to a consular officer during the interview can be denied a visa. You can also be denied a visa if you have criminal records or if you have stayed in the U.S. illegally before. There are other reasons why your application for a B visa can be refused. If you are denied a visa for any reason, the consular officer will issue you a written note giving detailed reasons why the application is refused.
A good number of applicants for B-1/B-2 visas and other non-immigrant visas are refused visas because of their inability to convince the consular officer of their intent to return to their home country before or at their expiration of their visa. The denial is made under the Section 214(b) of the Immigration and Nationality Act. This section presumes that you are an intending immigrant and thus you have no plan to return to your home country at the expiration of your visa. Based on this section, consular officials refuse most non-immigrant B visas applications. They are not convinced that these applicants are not planning to look for employment illegally in the U.S. Given this, it is your responsibility to convince the consular officer that you will come back to your country at the end of your visit.
You can meet the requirements of this section and overcome its intending immigrant presumption by demonstrating to the consular officer that your overall situation will compel you to return to your home country at the end of your intended period of stay. Such circumstances include your social, economic, family, business, employment, and other types of ties. Given that these conditions are not the same for everybody or every applicant, the consular officials treat each applicant differently and according to his or her situation. Owing to this, there is no single factor that is sufficient to prove compelling ties.
B-1/B-2 visa applications can also be refused based on Section 221(g). Refusal of an application based on this section is also common. This section of the Immigration and Nationality Act allows consular officers to deny applications for B visas and any other type of visa that is not supported by all necessary required documents. Under this section, also, your application can be refused if the consular official requires further review of your application. A letter stating why the application is refused will be issued to you. The consular officer may require you to come back to the embassy with the missing documents. If further administrative processing is required, it will be mentioned in the letter that will be issued to you. Normally, it will be stated that the embassy will contact you when it has completed the required necessary administrative processing.
A: B-1/B-2 visas are basically issued to alien citizens who are seeking entry into the U.S. for business purposes and tourism or leisure purposes. If you are coming to the U.S. with a B-1/B-2 visa, you are not allowed to register for academic programs. However, under certain circumstances, if you are allowed entry into the U.S. basically for tourism reasons, you may be allowed to participate in a short course of study which should not be up to 18 hours per week. There should be no credit earned for the course. If the weekly duration for the course of study is 18 or more hours, you will not be allowed to pursue it with your current B visa. Such program of study will require a student visa.
In addition to the above, the course should also be recreational in nature. Secondly, short courses that will lead to an award of any certificate or that will earn you credit do not fall under this category. You will require a student visa in order to attend such program of study. In other words, the course of study you can attend if you are in the U.S. for leisure should be fun or casual study, like art classes, cooking, and yoga classes with less than 18 hours of classes per week. If you enter into the U.S. with a B-1/B-2 and you would like to study in the U.S., you are required to apply for students’ visa and meet the requirements for eligibility for such visa. As visas are not issued in the U.S., to apply for a student, you have to come back to your home country or country of permanent residence.
If you are looking to take short courses with your tourist visa as explained above, you have to ensure that the notation “STUDY INCIDENTAL TO VISIT – FORM 1-20 IS NOT REQUIRED” is put on your visa by the consular officer in your local country or country where you applied from. Holders of B-1/B-2 visas that want to take fun short courses should request for notation if the consular officer did not include it. But if no special notation is put in your visa, you can still visit the U.S. for tourism with your visa.
However, on the port of entry, you should let the immigration officials know that your purpose of entering the U.S. is for study and not for academic pursuit. If you say that you want to study, the officials will want to know why you did not apply for a student visa. Thus, you may have some delays at the port of entry or you may even be sent back immediately.
A: If you are issued a B-1/B-2 visa, you may be allowed to stay in the U.S. for a period of 3 to 6 months, depending on your country. The decision on how long you will stay in the United States is not made by the consular officer that issued you the visa; rather, it is the immigration official of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) of the Department of Homeland Security who will admit you into the U.S. at the port of entry that will determine how long you will stay. If the immigration official inspects your visa and other travelling documents and is satisfied with them, he will admit you into the country and then decides how long you are legally allowed to remain in the country. As it has been said above, you are allowed a reasonable time that will be enough for you to conduct a business if you are coming for business purposes, but the period of stay allowed is not above 6 months. There is also possibility of extension of stay if you apply for it and if you meet the requirements. Non-immigrants admitted into the U.S. for tourism are normally allowed up to six months to explore the U.S.
At the expiration of the allowed duration of stay, you are required to leave of the United States. If you take employment or fail to leave on time or violate any of the conditions under which you are admitted into the U.S., you may be arrested and deported to your home country. This may disqualify you from future entry permit into the country.
Note that the duration of your stay in the U.S., as determined and stipulated by an immigration official, is not the same with the validity of your visa and the number of entries you are allowed by the consular officer. So, you may have a 5 year B visa with multiple entries; but, that does not mean that you are allowed to stay for five years in the U.S. just in a visit. Your duration of stay in a visit remains as determined by the immigration officer at the port of entry and has nothing to do with your visa validity.
A: No. You are not required to apply for a new visa for your new passport in so far as the visa in your old passport is still valid. But when you are traveling, you should ensure that both passports are there with you. At the port of entry, where you will be admitted into the U.S., the immigration official that will admit you will first examine your traveling documents, including the old visa. If he is satisfied with them, he will stamp your new passport and place the notation VIOPP (visa in the other passport) on it.
There is the tendency for some people to remove the visa on their old passport and place it on their new passports. This is not acceptable. You will be refused admission by the immigration officer if you do so because that will invalidate your visa. It is the wish of the U.S. immigration to help visitors minimize travel expenses. This is why you are not required to apply for another visa if you have a valid visa in an expired passport, whether or not you are eligible to apply for a new visa.
On the other hand, if your visa is about to expire or has expired, you are required to apply for another one. You are not allowed to enter into the U.S. for tourism or business purposes with an expired B-1/B-2 visa; otherwise, you will not be admitted by the immigration official at the port of entry. Note that expired visas or a visa that is about to expire is not revalidated or renewed. You will apply for another one and start the process from the beginning. This means that you will be required to meet all the requirements for issuances of B-1/B-2 visa again.
The consular officer handling your application will make a judgment based on your new application and not on your old application. It is a completely new application, different from the previous one you have made. This means that your application may be accepted or refused, depending on whether or not you are able to satisfy the consular officer. Refer to the requirements of eligibility for B-1/B-2 and process of application explained above in order to know the right steps to take for your new application to be considered. Be aware that you must overcome the Section 214(b)’s intending immigrant presumption before a new visa will be issued to you.
A: No, you are not required to apply for a new visa. You may still be able to travel with the old passport. However, when you are traveling, you should ensure that you travel with both passports and other necessary documents, such as your marriage certificate, that prove you are truly married. If these documents, including your marriage certificate, are written in your local language, then you are required to have them translated by the appropriate authority. You may be denied admission into the U.S. if the immigration officer handling your documents is not satisfied that you are truly married.
However, in order to avoid any doubt or denial of admission at the port of entry into the U.S., it is advisable that you apply for a new visa with your new passport. As it is mentioned above, the U.S. visa of any category cannot be transferred from one passport to another. So, do not try to do that, otherwise you will be complicating your issues. The immigration officials at the port of entry will discover that and you will be denied entry into the U.S.
Applying with your new passport means that you are starting a new process. So, you have to ensure that you meet all the necessary requirements and that you have all the required documents. Having a valid visa in your old passport does not imply that you will be issued with a new visa, even though it enhances your chances of getting a new one. The consular officer must still be satisfied with your new application before a new visa will be offered to you.
Note that if your husband or wife is living permanently in the U.S. and you are going for a visit to meet him or her, you are not legally allowed to remain in the U.S. with him/her with your B-1/B-2 visa. You must leave the United States when the stipulated period of stay you are allowed by the immigration officer elapses. You may be able to live permanently with your husband only if you travel with the right visa. So, check what the right visa option is for you and apply for it in such cases.
The above is also applicable to parents whose children are living in the U.S. permanently. They may be able to visit their children with B-1/B-2 visas. But they are not allowed to live with them permanently. They are required to have their own immigrant or work visa before they are allowed to remain legally with their children in the U.S.