U.S. IMIGRATION: B-1/B-2 Visitor Visas

The B-1 is a Visitor for Business Purposes and a B-2 is a Visitor for Tourism.

Visas are normally issued by the U.S. Consulate as B-1/B-2 in combination and then the holder designates which entry is being made at the U.S. point of entry, although the Consular Officer will inquire into the basis upon which the applicant desires visa issuance, and must qualify for the visa according to the factors pertaining to that visa type. Citizens of many countries are exempt from having to obtain a Visitor Visa and can instead use the Visa Waiver Program under ESTA.

Visa issuance is discretionary with the Consular Officer, and there is no appeal to a denial. Perhaps the most important characteristic about the B visa is its duration. When an individual applies at an U.S. consulate in their home country for a B visa it is granted for from one month to ten years, depending upon the policy of the U.S. Consulate in the country of issuance.

The length of the visa does not govern the amount of time the visa holder may stay in the United States, but merely the length of time they have to enter the United States. When the visa holder is inspected at the U.S. port of Normally, a stay in the United States for a period of up to six months is granted upon entry. If a visitor wants to stay beyond the initial period of time allotted, an application for an extension may be filed, requesting up to an additional six months. While it is usually possible to obtain permission to stay beyond the first six months stay, it is not always granted, and care must be taken when submitting the application for extension to insure that the requisite documentation is provided.

B Visa applicants must apply at the U.S. consulate in their home country and present the following documentation:

(1) A passport issued by their home country's governmen, which is valid for at least six (6) months;

(2) Supporting documentation showing that the tourist has ties to their home country and will return after their stay in the United States.;

(3) Two passport-sized photographs, one of which will be imprinted on the visa in the passport;

(4) Form OF-156 and OF-157 for males between the ages
of 16 and 45;

(5) Evidence that they are likely to return to their home country at the end of their authorized stay;

(6) The applicable visa fees.

The U.S. Department of State has listed four requirements that an applicant must satisfy in
order to obtain a B visa:

1. A visitor must demonstrate to the satisfaction of the consular Officer that he or she is entering the United States for a temporary period of time. The visitor plans to leave when the visa expires and does not intend to stay in the U.S. permanently. The visitor must have a round-trip ticket as proof of intent to depart upon the expiration of stay, and that he or she has sufficient financial resources for the trip. A letter from the employer describing the nature of the trip is recommended for B-1 entries.

2. Proof that the visitor has a residence outside the U.S. that he does not intend on abandoning, shown via deeds to real estate or an apartment lease. These help to persuade the consular officer that the visitor has strong ties to his home country and is likely to return after the trip to the Unites States.

3. Proof that the visitor has sufficient financial resources to take the trip to the United States, which may be proved by such documents as bank statements, as well as proof of employment to which the visitor intends to return. In some instances, an Affidavit of Support may be required, submitted by the person in the United States whom the visitor is coming to visit.

4. Proof that the visitor will participate in activities consistent with the B visa. For tourists, this has an important meaning: the B-2 visa holder cannot work during his or her stay. B-1's can enter into limited employment activities on behalf of a foreign employer. Appropriate activities for both B-1 and B-2's include vacationing, visiting friends/family, and even coming to the U.S. to seek medical attention. Employment is strictly prohibited for B-2's and only limited employment is allowed for B-1's. B-1's may not work for a U.S. employer or be paid in the United States.

According to the Foreign Affairs Manual, in determining whether visa applicants are entitled
to a temporary visitor status, consular officers must assess whether the applicants:

1. Have a residence in a foreign country that they
do not intend to abandon;

2. Intend to enter the United States for a period of
specifically limited duration; and,

3. Seek admission for the sole purpose of engaging
in legitimate activities relating to business or pleasure.

In making these assessments, the consular officer may wish to consider whether the applicants generally meet the criteria and determine if the applicant has adequate funds to avoid unlawful employment. If the financial arrangements made by the applicant depend on assurances that relatives or friends in the United States will provide all or part of the applicant's support, there must be forceful and compelling ties between the applicant and the sponsor which would lend credibility to the sponsor's undertaking.


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