B1 Visa & B2 Visa
B1 and B2 visas are for visitors to the U.S. who are entering for a temporary business, tourism (pleasure) or medical-treatment purpose.
Allowable Activities on a B1 or B2 Visa
People who enter the U.S. on a B1 or B2 visa may do so only for the following reasons:
- tourism, vacationing and visiting friends and family
- seeking medical treatment
- participating in scientific, educational, professional, religious or business conventions
- engaging in commercial transactions not involving gainful employment, such as consulting with clients or business associates
Evidence Required for a B1 or B2 Visa
When applying for a B1 or B2 visa, you must provide evidence proving your reason for coming to the U.S., your intention to leave after accomplishing the purpose of your trip and your ability to pay for your trip.
Such evidence can include invitations (e.g., wedding, graduation), tickets to events, programs, itineraries, letters from friends and family, medical records and letters from your employer. You can demonstrate your intent to leave the U.S. by proving permanent residence, employment, or family or business ties in your home country. Bank statements, credit cards, traveler’s checks, cash and pre-paid travel arrangements and hotel accommodations can be used to show your ability to pay for your trip.
For any visa application, you should review the procedures for the consulate through wish you are seeking the visa because procedures vary. Visit www.usembassy.gov for more information.
Visa Waiver Program
The U.S. began the Visa Waiver Program in 1986 to allow nationals of certain countries to travel to the U.S. for tourism or business for 90 days or fewer without obtaining a visa. However, the visitor gives up certain rights in exchange, such as the right to change or extend immigration status, seek administrative or judicial review if denied entry into the U.S. (with limited exceptions for asylum seekers) and contest a removal order.
An exception to the no-extension rule is that spouses, parents and minor children of U.S. citizens may be able to process applications for permanent residence in the U.S. without having to leave the country, despite having entered through the waiver program. More information can be found at www.cbp.gov.
No Visa Necessary for Canadian Visitors
Canadian passport holders may enter the U.S. as a visitor without a visa. However, that status may be extended or changed. Canadian visitors also have the right to contest deportation from the U.S. and can become permanent residents without having to leave the U.S.
Last update: Sept. 24, 2008