B-1/B-2 Visa Category

Business and Tourist Visitor (B-1 and B-2) Visas 

Most nonimmigrants who enter the United States (US) each year do so with a B-1/B-2 visa. B-1 visas cover travelers seeking to enter the US for business purposes and the B-2 visa category covers aliens seeking entrance to the US for pleasure. In both instances, the alien's intended stay in the US must be temporary and of limited duration with a maximum initial admission of one year. Unlike many other visas, the process for obtaining a B-1 or a B-2 visa involves only an application at the US consulate abroad and, once in the US, an application can be filed to extend the visa.

Criteria for B-1/B-2 Visas

B-1/B-2 visas are governed by § 101(a)(15)(B) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA):

An alien (other than one coming for the purpose of study or of performing skilled or unskilled labor or as a representative of foreign press, radio, film, or other foreign information media coming to engage in such vocation) (i) having a residence in a foreign country which he or she has no intention of abandoning and (ii) who is visiting the United States temporarily for business or temporarily for pleasure.

The United States Department of State has specified five criteria for qualification in the B-1/B-2 category:

  1. The applicant intends to enter the US for a limited duration.
  2. The applicant intends to leave the US at the end of his or her stay.
  3. The applicant must maintain a foreign residence which he or she has no intention of abandoning.
  4. The applicant has financial resources to cover the entirety of his/her trip to the US.
  5. The applicant will engage in legitimate activities related to business or pleasure.

One of the key factors in determining whether a B-1/B-2 visa is appropriate is that the nonimmigrant alien cannot engage in gainful employment in the US. This means that the nonimmigrant alien cannot be paid a salary from a US employer nor otherwise engage in activities in the US that would result in payment to the alien.

Extension of the B-1/B-2 Visa

Once in the US, a B-1/B-2 visa holder can apply for an extension of a visa with a maximum extension of up to one year. In order to extend the B-1/B-2 visa, the Form I-539 Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status is completed and filed either electronically or at the appropriate United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) facility. Supporting documentation should be included with the I-539 petition to explain the reason for the extension and the means of financial support while the visa holder remains in the US.

Visa Waiver Program

In addition, the US utilizes a Visa Waiver Program for certain countries, which allows citizens of these specified countries to enter the US without a visa. Berger Law can help you determine whether you are entitled to use the Visa Waiver Program or whether you may need to consider applying for a B-1/B-2 visa.

Please contact the Law Office of Samuel C. Berger today to discuss your B-1/B-2 visa. Our attorneys have years of experience filing B-1/B-2 extensions and we can clearly explain the process and answer any questions you may have.