The B classification covers individuals coming to the United States for limited amounts of time. There are two types of B categories, which depend on the nature of the individual’s stay in the United States. The B-1 category covers individuals making short visits to the United States for certain kinds of business activities. The B-2 category covers those visiting the United States for personal activities including touring, visiting friends and relatives, as well as obtaining health services.
How Long Can I Stay?
The duration of stay in the United States for the B-1 (business visitors) and B-2 (visitors for pleasure) is typically six months. Longer periods may be granted on either of these visas, but only in unusual circumstances.
Extensions of Stay
In some cases, visitors may find that they need to remain in the United States for a longer period than their status allows. Generally these extensions are for no more than six months at a time.
B Classification Specifics
B-1 Category: Business Visitor.
Nature of the visit:
A business visitor means someone coming to the United States to transact some business in the country.
What is not allowed?
Under the B-1 category the visitor is not allowed to work in the United States. This includes salaried workers, as well as those who work on a service for hire basis such as independent contractors and freelance workers.
B-2 Category: Visitors For Pleasure.
Nature of the Visit:
In this category, the visitor may want to visit the United States to see friends or relatives, tour, attend conferences or conventions not related to business. This category also includes those coming to the United States to receive medical attention.
What is not allowed?
The visitor for pleasure may not engage in gainful employment or pursue academic studies.
Applying For B-1/B-2 Visa
- Both the B-1 and B-2 visas are applied for at a United States Consulate/Embassy abroad. (Note: Canadians are exempted from this rule.)
Use form DS-156;
- The visitor may need to also supply form DS-157 (if you are a male between the ages 16-45) that provides supplemental information;
- For the B-1 visa, the visitor requires a letter from the visitor’s employer outlining the visitor’s detailed reasons for entering the United States and assurance of the prospective visitors continued employment outside the United States;
- The prospective visitor should also have the following documentation for presentation at the consulate;
- Photographs (according to photograph requirements);
- Application and visa fees (including a fee for a machine readable visa).
Entering the United States at a U.S. Port Of Entry
Having a visa does not guarantee entry into the United States. The Immigration authorities at the border/airport have the authority to deny admission, as well as determine the period of time, which the bearer of a visitor visa is authorized to remain in the United States.
At the port where you enter the United States, an Immigration official must authorize the traveler’s admission to the U.S. At that time you will be issued a Form I-94, Record of Arrival-Departure, on which the length of stay permitted to the visa holder is listed. If you wish to stay beyond the time indicated on the Form I-94, you should apply for an extension with the USCIS, formerly INS. The decision to grant or deny a request for extension of stay is made solely by the USCIS.