The B Visa Category

The vast number of visitors who come to the United States each year will arrive under the B visa category, either as a B-1 business visitor or a B-2 tourist.  It is commonly known as the “visitor” or “tourist” visa.  Generally, a  person in this visa category may stay in the U.S. for up to 180 days, and may do such things as touring, shopping, visiting family membors and friends, obtaining health care, attend business meetings or other business activities on behalf of a overseas employer, solicit business from American customers, and develop business contacts.

A person in the B visa category may not under any circumstance accept employment.  If a person is paid a salary from a U.S. employer or otherwise receives payment or fees for services rendered in the U.S., he or she is most likely in violation of the terms of the B visa.  

To qualify for the B visa, you must meet these general requirements:

  • You intend to stay in the U.S. for a limited time period
  • You will leave the U.S. when your period of stay expires, and have no intent to emigrate to the U.S.
  • While in the U.S., you will maintain a foreign residence
  • You have adequate financial means to travel, stay, and leave the U.S.
  • You will only engage in legitimate activites which are related to your visa

All of the above requirements must be established to the satisfaction of the Department of State with appropriate documentation.  In my experience, the number one reason for the denial of a B visa application is the failure to submit adequate supporting documents.

Note that if you are traveling as a family unit, each person in the family must individually qualify for the B visa, as there is no derivative status for B visa holders.  For the most part, this poses no practical problems because most visas for family members are processed and approved concurrently,  but in some situations a family member may be disqualified from receiving a visitor visa (for instance, he or she had overstayed the authorized duration of stay on a previous trip to the U.S.).

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