FAQ B-1/B-2 Visa
Qualifying for the B-1/B-2 Visa sounds like a tough nut to crack, however, this is not always the case. Here you will find answers to the most frequently asked questions about this visa category.
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The B Visa is a temporary, non-immigrant Visa that allows the holder to travel to the United States for either business or tourism purposes. B Visa holders are allowed to stay in the U.S. for up to 6 months at a time. After that period, the individual has to either leave the U.S. or file for an extension. It is a great option if you need to travel to the U.S. to participate in an accelerator program, fundraise, hire new people, or attend a conference or training. If you want to work or earn a salary from a company based in the U.S., you must apply for a work Visa.
You can apply for the B Visa online, and schedule a consulate interview. Wait times for B Visa interviews vary from country to country. There are several steps to apply for this Visa. In order to apply for a B-1/B-2 Visa you must:
- Complete the Nonimmigrant Visa Electronic Application (DS-160) form,
- Pay the Visa application fee,
- Schedule your appointment,
- Visit the U.S. Embassy on the date and time of your Visa interview.
Applicants refused Visas under section 214 (b) may reapply for a Visa. When they do, they will have to show additional stronger evidence of their ties, or illustrate how the circumstances have changed since the time of the original application. You must prove that you meet the criteria to be given a Visa to enter the U.S.
It may help to answer the following questions before reapplying:
- Was my situation explained accurately?
- Did the consular officer overlook something?
- Can any additional information be presented to establish the residence, and strong ties to the home country or country of residence?
Yes. The maximum you can stay on a B-1/B-2 Visa is one year. From there, you can ask for an extension for up to six months. To get the extension, you will need to file Form I-539 to extend or change your status. It’s recommended that you apply to extend your status at least 45 days before your authorized stay expires.
You can apply for the B Visa online and schedule a consulate interview. Wait times for B Visa interviews vary from country to country. There are several steps to apply for a Visa.
- Complete the online Visa application. You will need to complete the online DS-160 Visa application, and print the application form confirmation page to bring to your interview.
Schedule an interview. Interviews are generally required for Visa applicants, with certain limited exceptions below. Consular officers have the option to require an interview of any Visa applicant.
Appointment Wait Time. Wait times for interview appointments vary by location, season, and Visa category, so you should apply for your Visa as soon as possible. You can check the estimated wait time for a nonimmigrant Visa interview appointment (at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate) here.
Gather required documentation. Gather and prepare the required documents. Additional documents may be requested to establish if you are qualified, including evidence of the purpose of your trip, your intent to depart the United States after your trip, and/or your ability to cover all expenses of the trip.
Extending your stay:
If you want to extend your stay in the United States, you must file a request with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) before your authorized stay expires. If you remain in the United States longer than authorized, you may be barred from returning and/or you may be removed (deported) from the United States.
To be eligible for a B-/B-2 Visa extension, you must demonstrate that the purpose behind the extension of the trip is temporary and that you have strong ties with your home country, with no intent to remain in the U.S. permanently.
A foreign national traveling to the United States to conduct temporary business needs a visitor Visa (B-1), unless qualifying for entry under the Visa Waiver Program. Examples of temporary business include:
- attending business meetings or consultations,
- negotiating contracts,
- traveling for a scientific, educational, professional or business convention, or a conference on specific dates,
- settling an estate,
- participating in short-term training.
B-1 Visa and B-2 Visa holders are not authorized to seek any form of employment within the United States. They are also unable to earn credit for any studies done in the country. However, they may have an employer petition for them to convert to H-1B or O-1 status, if they meet the requirements.
The O-1 Visa can be applied for at any time, lasts up to three years and has the possibility of limitless extensions. Qualified applicants are those who are at the top of their field, with either a major international award or meeting three of its criteria. Since the O-1 Visa has no maximum extensions and no annual cap, it is one of the most attractive Visas to apply for.
In terms of the H-1B Visa, applications can only be submitted annually (usually starting in April) and the Visa lasts up to three years, with possible extensions for a maximum of six years. Applicants with a bachelor’s degree have an annual cap of 65,000 (numbers of available visas) and those with a master’s degree or higher face a Masters exemption of 20,000. It’s important to note that while the O-1 Visa does not have an education requirement, the H-1B Visa does.