Visitor Visas (B Visas)
The B Visa category is designed for foreign citizens who wish to visit the US temporarily either for business or for pleasure. The two categories of B Visa are B-1 and
B-1 Visas are for foreign citizens who visit the US for business purposes. These reasons could include: consulting with business associates, attending conferences, or negotiating a contract.
The B-2 Visa is for those visiting the US for pleasure, tourism, or medical treatment. This includes visiting family members, sightseeing, activities of a social or service nature, and performing in athletic or musical events with no remuneration. If you are accompanying a family member who is receiving medical treatment, you will also need a B visa.
You may also travel to the US for both business and pleasure in which event you will be issued a B1/B2 visa.
*Please note that if you are traveling to the US to study or work in any capacity as a journalist, crew member, etc. you will need a different, appropriate visa. If you plan on taking more than 18 hours of class a week, even if they are not counting toward a degree you must obtain a student visa. In addition, if you are attending a lecture, conference, or classes which will count toward a degree, you will need a student visa.
In order to extend your stay in the US, B Visa holders must submit a Form I-539 Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status to the USCIS.
You may apply for a visitor visa at any US consulate or embassy, though it is recommended that you apply at the one with jurisdiction over your place of permanent residence because it may be harder to qualify for the visa outside of your country of permanent residence. The consular officer at the embassy or consulate will determine whether you qualify for the visa.
While there are no petitions to file with the USCIS to enter the US as a visitor, the burden of proof falls on you to show to your consular officer that your visit to the US is temporary in nature.
The presumption in the law is that every visitor visa applicant is intending to immigrate. Therefore, applicants for visitor visas must overcome this assumption by demonstrating that:
- The purpose of their trip is to enter the US for business, pleasure, or medical treatment;
- They plan to remain for a specific, limited period of time;
- They have funds to cover expenses in the United States;
- They have compelling social and economic ties abroad; and
- They have a residence outside the US as well as other binding ties that will insure their return abroad at the end of the visit.
In addition to all of the documentation requirements explained above, the following documentation is also required for persons seeking medical treatment in the US:
- Medical diagnosis from a local physician, explaining the nature of the ailment and the reason the applicant requires treatment in the United States.
- Letter from a physician or medical facility in the United States expressing a willingness to treat the specific ailment and detailing the projected length and cost of treatment (including doctors' fees, hospitalization fees, and all medical-related expenses).
- Statement of financial responsibility from the individuals or an organization that will pay for the patient's transportation, medical, and living expenses. The individuals guaranteeing payment of these expenses must provide proof of ability to do so, often in the form of bank or other statements of income/savings or certified copies of income tax returns.
Persons traveling to the US for medical treatment should have a statement from a doctor or institution concerning proposed medical treatment.
Visa Waiver Program
Visitors from qualified countries, who are visiting the United States for 90 days or fewer, either for pleasure or business, may be eligible to enter the US without a visa if they meet the Visa Waiver Program requirements. To learn more about the Visa Waiver Program please visit the US Department of State. You cannot petition to extend your stay in the US if you are admitted on the Visa Waiver Program. Currently 36 countries participate in this program:
· Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brunei, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France,
Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania,
Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, San Marino,
Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom