Short-term visas

Tourism or business visits to the US

Short-term visas

If you want to visit the US as a non-immigrant for a temporary stay up to 1 year, you will most likely require a visitor visa. These visas are for people who want to enter the US for short-term business trips (category B1) or for tourism purposes (category B2).

Category B1

This type of visa is recommended for people visiting the US for business purposes. B1 visas can often get rejected if there is not enough proof that the applicant will return to their home country. This can include owning real estate, having a current employment or significant dependents (children or siblings for example) in your home country. Under no circumstances does this visa allow you to receive payments, however it does allow you to:

  • Attend specialized business-related meetings or conferences and take part in them fully
  • Join discussions and meetings with trading partners
  • Do research and inspections according to your type of business
  • Interview and hire staff

All other activities such as running a business, gainful employment (steady work and payment) or getting a payment by an organization within the US will call for a working visa and is not permitted by those holding business visas.

Category B2

Category B2 is usually recommended for tourists. This visa allows you to visit the US for a short period in order to travel around the country or to visit friends and family that may be staying in the US.

Just like the B1 visa, you’ll need proof of evidence that you are returning to your home country if you wish to be granted a B2 visa. This type of visa will let you engage in the following activities:

  • Tourism and related activities
  • Visiting friends or relatives
  • Undergoing medical care and surgery
  • Participation in social events such as exhibitions or sports competitions
  • Participation by amateurs in unpaid musical, sports or similar events
  • Joining a short recreational course of study, for example a five-day photography class while on vacation

Travel purposes not permitted on a visitor visa

There are some activities that can not be granted with a visitor visa:

  • Study
  • Employment
  • Paid performances
  • Arrival as a crewmember on a ship or aircraft
  • Working for the media (print, journalism, film)
  • Permanent residence in the US

If you enter the US on a visitor visa, your visa will be valid for up to 6 months but it can be renewed once more for another 6 months. This can only be done if you have a compelling reason to stay in the country.

More information about the different types of visas can be found on the US Department of State website . When applying for a visa, make sure you are doing so through an official government website, as there are many websites that scam you into paying for a visa without ever receiving one.

Further reading

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