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Visiting the USA - B Travel Visa : US Visas
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US Visas

Visiting the USA - B Travel Visa

Passport Visa Stamp The US visitor’s visa (B class) covers citizens of foreign countries who wish to travel to the United States for personal or limited business-related activities. This includes:
  • Vacation and tourism
  • Visiting friends and family
  • Attending conventions and conferences
  • Attending or participating in trade shows
  • Looking at potential colleges and universities
  • Looking for business venture or investment opportunities
  • Participating in unpaid art and entertainment events
  • Participating in short-term training
  • Receiving medical treatment
  • Participating in professional athletic events
There are two categories within the B class visa:
  • B-1 is for those individuals traveling to the US for limited business activity.
  • B-2 is for those coming to the US for pleasure, tourism, or to seek medical treatment.
The key elements of the B-class visa are
1) it is non-immigrant temporary visa and
2) individuals travelling under B class status are not allowed to work or receive any sort of income or compensation from a US-based source.

B-1 Visa, Business Visitors

Who is Covered

If you intention is to come to the US for short-term business purposes, you will need to apply for B-1 status. This includes activities such as:
  • Conferences, seminars, trade, shows, etc. for business, educational, scientific, or other professional purposes. This includes attendees and exhibitors.
  • Business ventures and investment opportunities—foreign nationals hoping to establish a business in the US can survey sites and/or lease premises. Individuals travelling under B-1 status will not be allowed to remain to manage business.
  • Independent research which is not for the benefit of a US institution.
  • Training Programs which are not primarily for employment purposes.
  • Sales—negotiation, taking orders, and signing contracts for products which will be produced outside of the US.
  • Commercial, Industrial, Engineering—Install, service, or repair non US-produced commercial or industrial equipment when specifically required by the purchase contract.
  • Professional athletes—members of a foreign-based team seeking entry for competition purposes. Earnings are limited to prize monies only.

Who is not Covered

The B-1 visa is not a work visa. At no time can anyone travelling under B-1 status receive a salary or compensation from a US-based company other than reimbursement of expenses specifically related to travel.

Representatives of foreign media—press, radio, film, etc.—who will be engaged in media activities whilst in the US will not be allowed entry using a B-1, but will need to obtain an I class media visa. Journalists and information media personnel are also exempt from traveling under the Visa Waiver Program (see below).

The B-1 also excludes construction workers. Individuals travelling on a B-1 may not perform construction work of any kind. They can however provide short-term supervision or training for US construction workers.

B-2 Visa, Pleasure, Tourism, and Medical Visitors

Individuals wishing to come to the US for pleasure or medical treatment reasons require the B-2 to gain entry. This includes activities like holiday and tourism, visiting friends and family, and receiving medical treatment. Individuals traveling under B-2 status are not allowed to work or receive wages or compensation from a US-based firm.

How to Apply

The application process varies slightly from country to country; for information specific to your country, you can seek information online or contact your local US Embassy.

Visa Waiver Program

The Visa Waiver Program allows foreign nationals of certain countries to travel to the US for personal reasons for 90 days or less without a visa. There are currently 25 countries participating in the Visa Waiver Program. To see if your country is included, visit:

Individuals traveling under the Visa Waiver Program are required to
1) have a passport with an expiry date at least six months after specified end of visit and
2) meet ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization) requirements.

Please note: US Immigration retains the right to turn away anyone seeking entry if they are not fully satisfied of truth of intent. This includes individuals traveling via the Visa Waiver Program. If in doubt, it is advisable to obtain a visa to eliminate any potential difficulties.

Other Important Information
  • If you plan to attend any short, recreational, or part-time study courses—such as art, cooking, yoga, scuba-diving, etc.—while in the US, you should let it be known at the time of application. This will allow Immigration to place a “study incidental to visit: I-20 not required” notation on your visa; which will help you avoid any potential problems.
  • Students and professional athletes coming to the US with the intention of finding a university or obtaining a position on a US-based professional team will not be allowed to remain if successful in their endeavor. The individual must return to their country of origin to obtain the correct visa that will allow them to return for work or study.
  • Anyone applying for a B class visa must show that they qualify under the US Immigration and Nationality Act. Immigration officials act from a presumption that every application is intent to migrate. Therefore, it is your responsibility to overcome that presumption. Key to this is: 1) the ability to prove you have a residence in your home country which you have no intention of abandoning, 2) you have no intention of seeking employment or trying to work during your stay, 3) you have sufficient funds to finance the whole of your stay, including additional funds for emergency.
  • For stays longer than traditional holiday or vacation travel requires, having a US sponsor is beneficial. This can be a friend or family member living in the US or, in the case of business travel, your company.


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Visiting the USA - B Travel Visa : US Visas