The B visa category applies to citizens of foreign countries who wish to visit the United States for a temporary period. There are two types of B visas: B-1 (for business) and B-2 (for pleasure or medical treatment). A B-1 visa would be issued for an individual desiring to enter the U.S. to consult with business associates; attend a scientific, educational, professional or business convention or conference; settle an estate; or negotiate a contract. A B-2 visa would be issued for an individual wishing to enter the U.S. for touring, amusement, visits with friends or relatives, rest, medical treatment, and activities of a social or service nature.
Foreign travelers who are citizens from certain eligible countries may also be able to visit the U.S. without a visa for tourism or business for 90 days or less on the Visa Waiver Program.
A business visitor (B-1) will be granted a period of entry sufficient to conduct his or her business. Generally, these visits are approved for less than three months. A non-business visitor (B-2) will automatically be granted a six-month period of entry. Only in unusual circumstances will a B-2 visa holder be granted a period of entry that is shorter or longer than six months. It should be noted that it is possible to obtain a period of admission of one year on initial entry to the U.S. Additionally, extensions of up to six months may be granted.
In order to obtain a B visa, you need only apply with the U.S. consulate; an application to the Immigration Service is not required.
It is useful, in order to assure entry at the border, for the B-1 visa holder to carry a letter from his or her company, similar to the letter supporting the visa application that affirms:
The individual applying for the tourist visa should carry a letter of invitation, together with such other pieces of documentation as hotel reservations or evidence of other travel arrangements. The B-1 and B-2 visa holder should also bring with him or her:
It should be noted that an alien entering the U.S. with a B visa must not engage in gainful employment (labor for hire) in the U.S. Additionally, the undertaking of an academic study program is not permitted (with a few limited exceptions).
There are five basic requirements for issuance of a B visa, as specified by The State Department:
No assurances regarding the issuance of visas can be given in advance. Therefore, final travel plans or the purchase of non-refundable tickets should not be made until a visa has been issued. Unless previously canceled, a visa is valid until its expiration date. Therefore, if the traveler has a valid U.S. visa in an expired passport, do not remove the visa page from the expired passport. You may use it along with a new valid passport for travel and admission to the United States. Visitors are not permitted to accept employment during their stay in the U.S.
There is no derivative status for B visas, which is why family members must qualify independently for a B visa.
Nationals of several countries do not need to obtain B visas for business or tourist visits to the United States for a period of up to 90 days, as long as certain conditions are met. Here is the list of countries whose nationals are eligible for the Visa Waiver program, according to the Department of State website. Currently, 36 countries participate in the Visa Waiver Program.