Visitor Visas Allowing Foreign Nationals to Legally Enter the U.S.
Given the different types of visas that a person can apply for, it can be difficult to ascertain which visa is most appropriate for your situation. Non-immigrant visas allow individuals to be in the United States for a limited period of time and for a specific purpose. The most common types of visitor visas include a B-1 Temporary Business Visitor Visa and a B-2 Temporary Tourist Visa. It is important to determine the documentation required for each type of visa to make the process as efficient as possible. Visitors from certain countries do not need to obtain a visa for these purposes.
The Visa Waiver Program
Citizens or nationals of specific countries designated by the Visa Waiver Program do not need to obtain a visa for business or tourism stays of 90 days or less.
If you are traveling to the U.S. for a specific period of time to engage in business activities, attend a convention or conference, settle an estate or negotiate a contract, or purchase supplies or materials, you may apply for a B-1 business visitor visa. If you are traveling to the U.S. to simply visit for pleasure, see family or friends, seek medical help, or participate in a sports or music performance as an amateur, you may apply for a B-2 visitor visa.
Individuals cannot seek employment or work in any capacity while in the United States on a visitor visa. The validity of a B-1 or B-2 visa depends on the country the foreign national is from. The validity period ranges from one to 10 years and allows for either single or multiple entries into the United States. The length of time that an individual can stay in the country on a B-1 visa is generally three months or less, while B-2 visas are typically granted for a six-month period. These time limits can vary and are granted at the discretion of the immigration officer.
Individuals can seek extensions for their visas as long as they have not violated any conditions of their admission. One example of violating a condition of admission would be working for pay while on this type of visa.
The documents that are required to apply for a B-1 or B-2 visa include a confirmation page of the DS-160 Form, a valid passport, and a color photograph that is in compliance with United States Citizenship Immigration Services (USCIS) standards. Additionally, it is suggested that an individual bring any documents that may support his or her B-1 or B-2 application. For example, if an individual is attending a business meeting, it may be useful to have an invitation with details about that meeting.
If an applicant has been arrested or has a criminal conviction, has a medical ineligibility, has previously been denied entry into the U.S., or has been deported, that individual may need to present additional documentation in support of his or her application.
Spouses and children of B-1 visa holders are not eligible for dependent visas and must seek their own B-2 visas.
The spouse and children of B-1 visa holders are not eligible to obtain a dependent visa. This means B visa holders cannot bring their family members to the United States with them. Instead, each dependent who will be coming must apply separately for a B-2 visa and must fulfill the requirements for that visa.