US Visitor Visas for Business and Pleasure
Visitor visas allow foreign nationals to travel to the US for business or pleasure — and sometimes both. Visitor visas include the B-1, the B-2 and the combination B-1/B-2.
Here we break down the difference so you know which visitor visa to apply for — if you need to apply at all!
B-1 Business Visitor Visas
B-1 visas are reserved for individuals who wish to travel for specific scientific, educational, professional or business purposes. This includes individuals attending conferences and business meetings, trade shows, lectures or speaking engagements, and business training.
B-2 Visas for Pleasure, Tourism & Medical Treatment
If the purpose of your travel is recreational, such as for a vacation or to visit friends or family, then a B-2 visa is appropriate. This category also includes anyone who will take a short course of study for recreational purposes, such as a cooking class.
This visa is also used for B-1 dependents, such as the spouse of a business visitor.
If You’re Traveling to the US for Both Business and Pleasure
Planning to visit the US for both business and pleasure? No worries. Visitors may be issued a joint B-1/B-2 visa.
Visa Waiver Program
Some travelers to the US are not required to obtain a visa before their visit. If you are from a country participating in the Visa Waiver Program and you intend to visit the US for less than 90 days, you are eligible for the program.
There are currently more than 30 countries participating in the program, including 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 and the United Kingdom.
Eligibility for B-1 and B-2 Visas
Applicants must show that they are entering the US for a specified purpose — either business or pleasure — and for a specified time, and that they have the financial resources to support their stay in the US. Also, because this is a nonimmigrant visa, applicants must show that they have residence outside of the US that they have no intention of abandoning.
Application Process for B-1 and B-2 Visas
Applicants for the B-1 and B-2 visas should apply at a US embassy or consulate abroad.
First, you should make an appointment for an interview with a US official. Waiting time can vary, so it is important to apply early! At your interview, you must submit your passport, a 2 x 2-inch photograph and a processing fee. You must also complete the Nonimmigrant Visa Electronic Application, Form DS-160, online. During the interview, the consulate officer will also take your fingerprints.
If you satisfy the criteria, your new B-1 or B-2 visa will be placed in your passport, and you are ready to travel to the US — whether it’s for business, pleasure or both!