B-1/B-2 Visitor Visas – Business and Pleasure

Print PDF
Visitor Visas – Business and Pleasure


Generally, a citizen of a foreign country who wishes to enter the United States must first obtain a visa, either a nonimmigrant visa for temporary stay, or an immigrant visa for permanent residence. The “visitor” visa is a nonimmigrant visa for persons desiring to enter the United States temporarily for business (B-1) or for pleasure or medical treatment (B-2). As examples, if the purpose for your planned travel is to consult with business associates, travel for a scientific, educational, professional or business convention, or conference on specific dates, settle an estate, or negotiate a contract, then you would apply for a visitor’s visa. As additional examples, if the purpose of your planned travel is recreational in nature, including tourism, amusement, visits with friends or relatives, rest, medical treatment, and activities of a fraternal, social, or service nature, then you would apply for a visitor’s visa. The visa allows a foreign citizen, to travel to the United States port-of entry and request permission of the U.S. immigration inspector to enter the U.S.

Visa Waiver Program

Travelers coming to the U.S. for tourism or business for 90 days or less from qualified countries may be eligible to visit the U.S. without a visa if they meet the visa waiver program requirements. Currently, 27 countries participate in the Visa Waiver Program, as shown below:

Visa Waiver Program – Participating Countries








New Zealand






San Marino












United Kingdom


  • Chile
  • Czech Republic
  • Estonia
  • Greece
  • Hungary
  • Latvia
  • Lithuania
  • Malta
  • Poland
  • South Korean
  • Taiwan*

**To be eligible to travel under the VWP, British citizens must have the unrestricted right of permanent abode in England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, the Channel Islands, and the Isle of Man.

Qualifying for a Visa

Applicants for visitor visas must show that they qualify under provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act. Applicants must demonstrate that they are properly classifiable as visitors under U.S. law.

The presumption in the law is that every visitor visa applicant is an intending immigrant. Therefore, applicants for visitor visas must overcome this presumption by demonstrating that:

Where Do I Apply for a Visitor Visa?

Applicants for visitor visas should generally apply at the American Embassy or Consulate with jurisdiction over their place of permanent residence. Although visa applicants may apply at any U.S. consular office abroad, it may be more difficult to qualify for the visa outside the country of permanent residence.

Required Documentation

Each applicant for a visitor visa must submit these forms and documentation, and submit fees as explained below:

What are the Required Fees?

Additional Documentation

Applicants must demonstrate that they are properly classifiable as visitors under U.S. law by:

Documentation Needed – When Seeking to Travel for Medical Treatment

In addition to all of the documentation requirements explained above, the following documentation is also required, for persons seeking medical treatment in the U.S.:

Persons traveling to the U.S. for medical treatment should have a statement from a doctor or institution concerning proposed medical treatment.

Misrepresentation of a Material Facts, or Fraud

Attempting to obtain a visa by the willful misrepresentation of a material fact, or fraud, may result in the permanent refusal of a visa or denial of entry into the United States.

Visa Ineligibility/Waiver

The Nonimmigrant Visa Application, Form DS-156 list classes of persons who are ineligible under U.S. law to receive visas. In some instances an applicant who is ineligible, but who is otherwise properly classifiable as a visitor, may apply for a waiver of ineligibility and be issued a visa if the waiver is approved.

Additional Information

Visitors are not permitted to accept employment during their stay in the U.S. Unless previously canceled, a visa is valid until its expiration date. Therefore, if the traveler has a valid U.S. visitor visa in an expired passport, he or she may use it along with a new valid passport for travel and admission to the United States.

Visa Denials

If the consular officer should find it necessary to deny the issuance of a visitor visa, the applicant may apply again if there is new evidence to overcome the basis for the refusal.

Entering the U.S. – Port of Entry

Applicants should be aware that a visa does not guarantee entry into the United States. The visa allows a foreign citizen coming from abroad, to travel to the United States port-of entry and request permission to enter the U.S. The Department of Homeland Security’s, Bureau of Transportation Security has authority to permit or deny admission to the United States. Also, the period for which the bearer of a visitor visa is authorized to remain in the U.S. is determined by a U.S. immigration officer of the Bureau of Transportation Security, not the consular officer. At the port of entry (an international airport, seaport or land border crossing), a Bureau of Transportation Security, a U.S. immigration official must determine whether you can enter and how long you can stay here, on any particular visit. If you are allowed to enter, the U.S. immigration official authorizes the traveler’s admission to the U.S. At that time, Form I-94, Record of Arrival-Departure, which notes the length of stay permitted, is validated by the immigration official.

How Do I Extend My Stay?

Those visitors who wish to stay beyond the time indicated on their Form I-94 must file an extension with the Department of Homeland Security’s Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services. The decision to grant or deny a request for extension of stay is made solely by the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Back to Page