Category B visas

Short-term visitors

Anyone who wishes to visit the US on holiday or business and doesn’t qualify for visa-free travel or who wishes to remain longer than 90 days must apply for a category B visa.

Category B visas

Visitors’ visas aren’t required by Canadian citizens and most foreign residents of Canada (landed immigrants) who enter the US as visitors, or by Mexican nationals with a US border crossing card. Visitors’ visas are the most commonly issued visas and are valid for visits for business or pleasure. B-1 visas are granted to visitors on business and B-2 visas to tourists, although combined B-1/B-2 visas are also issued.

Requirements 

First, the visa which most people will come across; the travel visa. The travel visa can be divided into 2 different categories.

  1. The B1 Visa  - recommended for people visiting the USA for business purposes. For example: athletes (both amateurs and professionals), domestic employees, nannies (These must be accompanying a foreign national employer)
  2. The B2 Visa  - recommended for travelling/sightseeing, visiting family/friends, or going to the USA for medical reasons.

Applying for a B1 or a B2 visa requires the following:

  • Consult your nearest  U.S. embassy for special instructions.
  • Fill in the Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application, Form DS-160 . Complete the form and print it. Keep the form and the DS-160 confirmation barcode page. Don’t forget to upload the photo. The DS-160, Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application form, is for temporary travel to the United States.
  • Schedule an interview (required for applicants aged between 14 and 79 years old)
  • Prepare for the interview by paying any fees and reviewing the instructions from the embassy (step 1).
  • Gather the four required documents, which are your passport (1). This has to be valid for 6 months before going to the USA. The confirmation page of form DS-160 (2) is needed. Application fee payment receipt (3) and a photo (4) are needed as well. An ESTA  might be needed for those with a B1 visa
  • Some other documents might be required as well, such as proof of your financial stability, the purpose of your trip and where you will live after your business trip or holiday. You have to show that you have no intention staying in America for a longer time, which would be illegal.  
  • Read the Legal Rights and Protections pamphlet  to learn about your rights in the United States and protection available to you.
  • Actually attend the visa interview! If you’re travelling for a medical reason, please make sure you have all your health records available as well.

B visas normally don’t give visitors the right to work in US companies, even if payment is made outside the country. This doesn’t, however, apply to business conducted as a visiting businessman, e.g. as a representative of an overseas company, when no payment is received from a US source. The holder of a B-1 visa may consult with business associates, lawyers or accountants, take part in business or professional conventions, and negotiate contracts and look for investment opportunities. A category B-1 visitor must have a permanent overseas residence.

In addition to completing form DS-160, supporting documentation may be required in the form of an invitation from the person you’re visiting or staying with in the US, if applicable. For a B-1 visa, you may require a letter from your employer verifying your continued employment, the reason for your trip, and your itinerary in the US. You may be required to ‘submit evidence substantiating the purpose of your trip and your intention to depart from America after a temporary visit’.

Examples of the evidence required are given on form DS-160. In the case of pleasure trips, this includes documents outlining your plans in the US and stating the reasons why you would return abroad after a short stay such as family ties, employment (a self-employed person may require a letter from his accountant or solicitor confirming that he is known to them and stating how long he has been in business), home ownership or similar binding obligations in your home country.

Conditions

Applications for B visas must be made through a US embassy or consulate and require an in-person interview for everyone between 13-79 years of age. At some consulates, you may receive the approved visa at the end of your interview, or you’re asked to supply a stamped self-addressed envelope so that the visa can be sent to you as soon as it is available. If you make an application for a visitor’s visa in a country other than your home country or country of residence (called an ‘out-of-district’ application), your application is subject to increased scrutiny, as it may be suspected that you’re ‘shopping around’ for an easier port of entry.

It’s possible to extend a B-2 visa for a maximum of six months at a time. An application to extend a B-1 business visa must be accompanied by a letter from your employer explaining why you need an extension. There’s no entitlement to an appeal if the extension isn’t granted. Technically you can leave the US after six months, return the following day and stay for a further six months, but you’re unlikely to get away with this many times. Although many people use a B visa to remain in the US for a year or two, most eventually get caught and are refused admission. As a result of previous abuse by holders of B visas, immigration officials may regard you as ‘suspect’ and make checks to ensure that you aren’t cheating the system.

Visitors’ visas aren’t required by Canadian citizens and most foreign residents of Canada (landed immigrants) who enter the US as visitors, or by Mexican nationals with a US border crossing card. Visitors’ visas are the most commonly issued visas and are valid for visits for business or pleasure. B-1 visas are granted to visitors on business and B-2 visas to tourists, although combined B-1/B-2 visas are also issued.

Requirements 

First, the visa which most people will come across; the travel visa. The travel visa can be divided into 2 different categories.

  1. The B1 Visa  - recommended for people visiting the USA for business purposes. For example: athletes (both amateurs and professionals), domestic employees, nannies (These must be accompanying a foreign national employer)
  2. The B2 Visa  - recommended for travelling/sightseeing, visiting family/friends, or going to the USA for medical reasons.

Applying for a B1 or a B2 visa requires the following:

  • Consult your nearest  U.S. embassy for special instructions.
  • Fill in the Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application, Form DS-160 . Complete the form and print it. Keep the form and the DS-160 confirmation barcode page. Don’t forget to upload the photo. The DS-160, Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application form, is for temporary travel to the United States.
  • Schedule an interview (required for applicants aged between 14 and 79 years old)
  • Prepare for the interview by paying any fees and reviewing the instructions from the embassy (step 1).
  • Gather the four required documents, which are your passport (1). This has to be valid for 6 months before going to the USA. The confirmation page of form DS-160 (2) is needed. Application fee payment receipt (3) and a photo (4) are needed as well. An ESTA  might be needed for those with a B1 visa
  • Some other documents might be required as well, such as proof of your financial stability, the purpose of your trip and where you will live after your business trip or holiday. You have to show that you have no intention staying in America for a longer time, which would be illegal.  
  • Read the Legal Rights and Protections pamphlet  to learn about your rights in the United States and protection available to you.
  • Actually attend the visa interview! If you’re travelling for a medical reason, please make sure you have all your health records available as well.

B visas normally don’t give visitors the right to work in US companies, even if payment is made outside the country. This doesn’t, however, apply to business conducted as a visiting businessman, e.g. as a representative of an overseas company, when no payment is received from a US source. The holder of a B-1 visa may consult with business associates, lawyers or accountants, take part in business or professional conventions, and negotiate contracts and look for investment opportunities. A category B-1 visitor must have a permanent overseas residence.

In addition to completing form DS-160, supporting documentation may be required in the form of an invitation from the person you’re visiting or staying with in the US, if applicable. For a B-1 visa, you may require a letter from your employer verifying your continued employment, the reason for your trip, and your itinerary in the US. You may be required to ‘submit evidence substantiating the purpose of your trip and your intention to depart from America after a temporary visit’.

Examples of the evidence required are given on form DS-160. In the case of pleasure trips, this includes documents outlining your plans in the US and stating the reasons why you would return abroad after a short stay such as family ties, employment (a self-employed person may require a letter from his accountant or solicitor confirming that he is known to them and stating how long he has been in business), home ownership or similar binding obligations in your home country.

Conditions

Applications for B visas must be made through a US embassy or consulate and require an in-person interview for everyone between 13-79 years of age. At some consulates, you may receive the approved visa at the end of your interview, or you’re asked to supply a stamped self-addressed envelope so that the visa can be sent to you as soon as it is available. If you make an application for a visitor’s visa in a country other than your home country or country of residence (called an ‘out-of-district’ application), your application is subject to increased scrutiny, as it may be suspected that you’re ‘shopping around’ for an easier port of entry.

It’s possible to extend a B-2 visa for a maximum of six months at a time. An application to extend a B-1 business visa must be accompanied by a letter from your employer explaining why you need an extension. There’s no entitlement to an appeal if the extension isn’t granted. Technically you can leave the US after six months, return the following day and stay for a further six months, but you’re unlikely to get away with this many times. Although many people use a B visa to remain in the US for a year or two, most eventually get caught and are refused admission. As a result of previous abuse by holders of B visas, immigration officials may regard you as ‘suspect’ and make checks to ensure that you aren’t cheating the system.

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