The B visa category grants entry into the U.S. for business and tourism purposes. This visa category includes two types of visitor visas that foreign nationals may qualify for based on their reason for visiting the U.S. The B-1 visa is designed for business travel. Foreign nationals can also get another visa called B-2, which permits entry into the country for tourism. Combined B-1/B-2 business and tourism visas are also available for both purposes.
What is a B-1 Temporary Business Visa?
The B-1 is a temporary visa that allows business visitors to travel to the U.S. for business travel, which may include:
- Settling estates
- Negotiating contracts
- Consulting with business associates
- Traveling for educational, scientific, professional or business conventions, or conferences
- Short-term training
- Transiting through the U.S. with a B-1 visa
Who is Eligible for a B-1 visa?
Individuals must meet certain criteria to be eligible for a B-1 visa. They are required to show that the primary purpose of their travel to the U.S. is for a legitimate business purpose. Applicants are only permitted to remain in the U.S. for a specified and limited period of time. Proof of sufficient funds is necessary to cover an individual's stay in the U.S. Foreign nationals need to retain a residence outside the U.S. that they do not intend to abandon when they arrive in the country.
Along with meeting the requirements above, individuals must otherwise be admissible to the U.S.
What is the B Visa Application Process?
Foreign nationals must follow several steps to apply for a B visitor visa. Note that the order of the steps and specific requirements may vary by U.S. Embassy or Consulate. Individuals should visit the website of their nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for specific instructions on how to apply.
Foreign nationals can complete their visa applications online. The electronic visa application includes Form DS-160, Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application and submission of a photo for identification. Individuals must also print the application form confirmation page and bring it to their interview, if applicable.
Please be sure to check with your designated Consular Post, as it may not require you to bring physical photos.
Are B Visa Interviews Required?
Interviews are generally required for B visa applicants. With limited exceptions, interviews are required for individuals between the ages of 14 and 79. Some exemptions are made for renewals. Individuals who are under the age of 14 or over age 79 do not typically need to attend an interview for a B visa.
Individuals who are required to schedule a B visa interview should ideally make an appointment at their nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate in the country where they live. Appointments may be scheduled at another U.S. Embassy or Consulate, but applicants will likely face more difficulties if they are applying for a visa outside of the country where they live.
During the interview, the consular officer will determine if the applicant meets the requirements necessary to receive a visitor visa. Digital fingerprint scans are typically acquired during the application interview, but some requirements may vary by location. After a visa interview, the consular officer may decide that the individual's application needs additional administrative processing.
Part of the visa application process involves a background check against various government databases. If there is a match between the applicant's name and information in the databases, such as criminal record, a U.S. immigration violation, prior to travel to unfriendly countries (Yemen, Syria, etc.), then there may a secondary level of investigation before the visa is issued. This period is referred to as administrative processing.
Are There Exemptions for the B Visa?
Not everyone needs to have a B visa to enter the U.S. for tourism and business visits. Citizens of Bermuda and Canada are not required to obtain a B-1 or B-2 visa. However, they may need to obtain a visa for certain work or visit purposes. Additionally, Bermuda citizens may stay for a maximum of 180 days in the U.S. with a B visa.
Other Key Information to Know
Individuals should note that they are not permitted to accept work or employment offers in the U.S. with a B-1/B-2 visa.
Visa issuance is not guaranteed. Individuals should not make final travel arrangements or purchase plane tickets until they have received a visa.
Even if a passport has expired, a U.S. visa will still be valid through its expiration date unless it is revoked or canceled. Individuals who have a valid visa in an expired passport should not remove the visa from the passport. The valid visa can be used for admission into the U.S., even if it is placed in an expired passport, provided the applicant obtains a new valid passport prior to travel.
For additional information about the B1 visa, please download Envoy's guide titled "An Introduction to the B Visa."
Originally published 2 December 2021
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.