Immigration Law – B-1 And B-2 Visitors

People wishing to come to the United States simply for a brief visit generally will get either a B-1 visa (for business travel) or B-2 visa (for tourism or social visits). A visitor on such a visa can come in for up to six months - and then receive an extension of up to six months - although the length of stay can be linked to the purpose and expected length of the trip. In other words, some people are granted shorter stays, while others are given extensions for longer stays. To get an extension, a visitor must file a Form I-539. You must bear in mind that a B visa is not the last requirement for a visitor to get into the U.S. Visitors also must satisfy the requirements of the border patrol, who provide an I-94 at the time of entry.

An application for a B visa begins with a submission to the American consulate in the home country. This is done with a Form D-160. The potential visitor will need to provide, at very least:

  • A birth certificate
  • Marriage certificate and/or divorce decrees, if applicable
  • Passport
  • Bank statements
  • Educational documents
  • Documents showing ownership of property
  • Specific information about the visitor's trip (including the travel itinerary and names of the people who will be traveling with the visitor)
  • Employment verification
  • Existence of close family relationships in the visitor's home country.
  • Evidence that the visitor can support children and a spouse, if applicable, while the visitor is in the U.S. if the visitor is the primary breadwinner.
  • Any additional documents demonstrating a person's links to their home country.
  • Proper photographs

Many people find this to be a cumbersome process. You must bear in mind, however, that before the U.S. issues a B visa, it wants to do everything it can to ensure that person actually will return to their home country when the visa expires. The U.S. figures that the more ties a person has to their home country, the more likely they are to return.

Residents of some countries - mostly in Europe, but specifically not in Russia - don't need a B visa and can visit the U.S. for up to 90 days without one.

The current fee for a B visa is $160.