When is it suitable to apply for B-1/B-2 visa?
This category may be suitable if you are seeking to enter the United States for a limited duration, for purposes of business or tourism, and are not eligible under the Visa Waiver Program (“VWP”).
What is the Visa Waiver Program (“VWP”)?
The Visa Waiver Program (VWP) enables most citizens or nationals of participating countries to travel to the United States for tourism or business for stays of 90 days or less without first obtaining a visa, provided they meet the requirements.
Which countries participate in the VWP?
Can I enter on the VWP?
If you would like to enter the US for purposes of business or tourism for less than 90 days, you may be eligible to travel without a visa under the Visa Waiver Program (“VWP”). Eligibility can be assessed at the US Embassy London website and you can submit your application, for a nominal charge, at http://esta.cbp.dhs.gov. Davies Legal does not assist in completing the VWP form. You should not require a lawyer to complete this unless you have questions about criminal matters or other security based questions on the form.
What is the impact of the Visa Waiver Program Improvement Terrorist Travel Prevention Act of 2015 on VWP?
Travelers who are nationals of, or who have visited/been present in, certain countries on or after March 1, 2011, are not eligible to travel under the VWP.
The countries are: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, or Yemen.
There are certain exceptions including diplomatic reasons.
Do I qualify for a B-1/B-2 visa?
You must meet the following as a minimum:
- Seek entry to the US for purposes of tourism or business;
- For a maximum of 6 months;
- May not have immigrant intent (the intention to stay in the US beyond the period permitted by your visa);
- Must hold sufficient ties to the country from which you are applying; and
- Must be otherwise admissible (for example, you have no criminal, medical, overstay or other issues – in which case you may be eligible for a Waiver of Inadmissibility).
Can I study and/or work?
No. You may not accept employment or remuneration from a US source. You may not perform productive work even if it is unpaid.
Some study is permitted but it must not be full-time in nature and it is advisable that you consult a lawyer on whether you require a Student Visa.
Can I bring my family and can they study and/or work?
Your family may enter at the same time as you on any visa for which they are eligible or ESTA. They are subject to the rules of the visa on which they enter. If they enter under the VWP or on a B-1/B-2, they will not be permitted to work and will be subject to the same rules on study as you (above).
What can I do on a B-1/B-2 visa?
- You may, when entering under a B-1 (business visitor) visa, carry out certain restricted business activities, which are not considered for immigration purposes to amount to “gainful employment”. This does not mean that you may work provided it is not paid – generally you may not engage in any productive work – paid or otherwise;
- You must not receive any salary or other remuneration from a US source other than an expense allowance or other reimbursement for expenses incidental to your temporary stay (the latter will apply in specific circumstances);
- You may receive medical treatment – note that medical treatment is not free in the US and you would need to meet all costs;
- You may enrol in a short recreational course of study but it may not involve gain e.g. college credit.
For how long is B-1/B-2 generally approved?
This depends on whether you require a waiver and your country of origin. In the instance of a straight forward application submitted by a British citizen, the visa will generally be valid for 10 years. With a waiver anywhere from 1 – 5 years depending on whether you have previously been granted a waiver.
If my visa is valid for 10 years, can I enter for 10 years?
No. The period for which you can enter on any single occasion regularly differs to the duration for which the visa is approved.
Where do I file?
Filing takes place at your local embassy/consulate. Procedure can differ between countries but has the same general requirements.