Anyone looking to visit the United States will typically need to acquire an entry visa to be allowed in the country. In 2014, nearly 75 million people from around the world visited the United States, most of whom did so on a short-term basis.
The most common short-term visas are known as the “B” visitor visas. The B visitor visas are the most appropriate visas for short visits to the country and are broken down into two categories, the B-1 visitor visa (for business) and the B-2 visitor visa (for medical treatment or pleasure). The B visas serve as a means for individuals to make temporary visits for business, pleasure, or medical treatment. Individuals seeking to enter the United States for temporary work or studying are not eligible to apply for B visas.
Who Needs a Visa?
Citizens of countries that participate in the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) are able to visit the United States without prior permission. The VWP program provides a list of eligible countries on the United States State Department website. Those who enter the country on the visa waiver program are not entitled to remain in the United States for more than 90 days. VWP participants will also find it difficult to alter their immigration status while they are in the United States. On the other hand, individuals who obtain B-2 visitor visas are typically given permission to stay in the United States for up to six months. B visa visitors are also able to request an extension to remain in the country for an additional six months.
Obtaining a B Visa
In most cases, applying for a B-1 or B-2 visa is a relatively straightforward process, but getting approved for a visa can often be difficult. Your application will be reviewed by the United States Embassy in your country of residence. To maximize your chances of approval, it is crucial that you meet the following criteria:
- You must demonstrate your visit to the United States is temporary;
- You must show that you have a permanent residence outside the United States. These ties to your country of residence are meant to insure that you will return; and,
- You must prove that the purpose of your trip to the United States is for leisure, business, or medical care.
It is critical that you are able to demonstrate convincing proof that you adequately meet these requirements.
B-1 vs B-2 Visa
So what exactly is leisure, business, or medical care? Someone who enters the country for a temporary work project, to buy products, or to attend meetings would be considered business visitors and would be eligible for a B-1 visa. There are more modes of “business” but these are the most common. It should also be noted that you are not allowed to be paid by a United States company during your stay.
Alternatively an individual who enters the country to travel, take in entertainment, visit family, and other modes of relaxation would qualify the person for a B-2 visa.
Finally, to be eligible for a B-2 visa for medical persons, the individual must show that he or she is entering the United States to receive medical treatment (that they will pay for) and that the treatment is not available in their home country.
What Happens When You Get Your Visa?
Once you receive your visa and enter the United States you will be given a required departure date, typically ranging from thirty days to six months from the date of entry. This information can be found on your I-94 arrival-departure record. It is important to be sure that you do not remain in the United States past the date shown on your I-94.
It should be noted that obtaining a B-1 or B-2 visa from a U.S. Embassy does not guarantee entry into the United States. United States Customs and Border Patrol officials have the final authority to accept or deny entry into the United States. This may happen for several reasons, but in most cases, it is because the officer believes the individual will not return to their country of residence.
If your friend or family member wants to enter the United States for any period of time, it is in their best interests to contact an immigration attorney. Call or stop the Law of Office of Raphael M. Scheetz today. Attorney Scheetz will be able to evaluate your situation and develop a course of action that will maximize the chances of success.