US B1/B2 Visitor Visa Requirements for Business and Tourism

This guidance relates to US B1/B2 visa application requirements and FAQs for business, tourists, and family visitors. And explains the online nonimmigrant visa application process on DS-160 Form for 5 and 10-year B1/B2 US visitor visa. Accordingly, covers the details of US B1/B2 Visitor Visa Requirements, how to apply for US B1/B2 Visitor Visa on DS-160 Application Form and Guidance Notes.

1. Requirements 2. How to Apply? 3. Guidance Notes

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1. Requirements

US B1/B2 Visitor Visa Requirements

The USA immigration law presumes that every visitor is an intending immigrant until the applicant demonstrates otherwise. Therefore, USA B1B2 visa requirements are to overcome the presumption by demonstrating that

  1. the purpose of the trip is only to enter the USA temporarily for business or pleasure. Accordingly, an applicant needs to identify and explain the purpose by furnishing an invitation letter, trip itinerary etc.
  2. the applicant plans to remain in the USA only for a specific limited period. Accordingly, the applicant needs to furnish evidence, which may establish the arrival and departure dates. For instance, attending a business meeting or a friend’s wedding on Sept 1, 2019. In the case of tourism, a specific trip-itinerary, along with a hotel and ticket booking for specific dates!
  3. evidence of maintenance funds to cover the travel and cost of living in the USA. Accordingly, the applicant needs to provide evidence of funds such as personal bank statement.
  4. the applicant has a residence outside the US as well as other binding ties that will ensure their departure from the USA at the end of the visit. This relates to a strong family, social and economic ties with the home country.

Getting a Visa to Visit the U.S. is a Long and Extensive Process for Most

The New York Times

US B1B2 Visitor Visa

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2. Procedure

How to apply for US B1/B2 Visitor Visa Application?

An applicant can apply at the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate in the country where they live. It is important to apply for a B1/B2 USA visitor visa well in advance of the travel departure date due to interview wait time and administrative processing time, which may at times take up to 3-6 months or even more. However, in most of the cases, 4-12 weeks is the minimum possible time to complete the entire process. Therefore, if an applicant intends to celebrate Christmas and winter holidays in the US. And the interview wait time for the relevant US embassy or consulate is 6 weeks days then perhaps it is expedient to add a min of 4-6 weeks for administrative processing. Accordingly, an applicant will be better off if they apply for USA B1/B2 visa in mid-Sept. Indeed, applying for US B1/B2 Visitor Visa usually requires the following steps:

  1. Fill the Online DS-160 Application Form
  2. Pay the US Visa Application Fee
  3. Schedule an Interview Appointment
  4. Gather the Supporting Documents
  5. Attend the US Visa Interview
  6. If applicable, Administrative Processing after US Visa Application Refusal

1. Application Form

Certainly, the first step in the B1/B2 USA visitor visa application process is to complete the online NIV application form DS-160.

2. Payment

Once an applicant completes and submits the DS-160 form then usually needs to pay the fee. There are different country-specific payment methods. Usually, the most widely used method is to pay the application fee in the designated bank. After payment of the application fee, an applicant needs to take print of the confirmation page, which an applicant needs to bring to the interview.

3. Schedule US B1/B2 Visa Interview Appointment

After making the payment, the applicant can make an appointment for an interview at the US Embassy or Consulate. Please note the wait time for an interview appointment varies. And there is no priority service. Therefore, it is expedient to make an early application. For instance, as on August 5, 2019, the B1/B2 USA visitor visa interview wait time for top ten most busy posts ranges from 2 days (for applicants in Buenos Aires, Argentina) to 76 days (for applicants in Bogotá, Columbia). Therefore, it is expedient that even before starting to fill a DS-160 form, an applicant should keep an eye on interview wait time.

US Visitor Visa Interview Wait Time June 2019

City/CountryWait Time (calendar days)
Shanghai, China4
Guangzhou, China15
Beijing, China28
São Paulo, Brazil18
Buenos Aires, Argentina2
Bogotá, Columbia76
Mumbai (Bombay), India52
Tel Aviv-Yafo, Israel38
New Delhi, India50
Manila, The Philippines32

4. Supporting Documents

For USA B1/B2 visa interview, an applicant needs to take the following mandatory supporting documents:

  1. A valid passport with at least six months beyond the period of stay in the USA
  2. Confirmation page of DS-160 Form
  3. Application fee US$160/- payment receipt
  4. A 2 x 2 inches (51 x 51 mm) photo – if an applicant is not able to upload the photo on DS-160 Form
  5. Some posts also require a curriculum vitae (CV), which is a brief account of a person’s education, qualifications, and previous occupations

However, apart from the previously mentioned mandatory documents, an applicant should take documents to explain:

  1. the purpose of the planned trip such as an invitation, trip itinerary etc.
  2. the intent of the applicant to return to the home country once the journey is complete. These documents relate to family, social and economic ties of an applicant to the country of residence. For instance, employment letter, tax certificate, marriage and children’s certificates, property documents, rental agreements, payment contracts, salary slips, business bank account statement etc.
  3. availability of maintenance funds to bear the trip expenses such as personal bank account statement for the last six months.

5. Interview

An applicant needs to reach the respective US embassy or consulate on time to attend the interview. Accordingly, during the application process, the US embassy or consulate takes an ink-free, digital fingerprint scan of the B1/B2 USA visitor visa applicant. And afterwards, on his/her turn a consular officer interviews the applicant. In most of the cases, the interview is quite straightforward. The consular officer may start with asking very simple questions such as:

  1. What is the reason or purpose of going to the USA?
  2. Why have you not applied for the B1/B2 USA visitor visa before?
  3. What you intend to do during your trip?
  4. Do you have family in the home country?
  5. What is your income and how much you will be spending on the trip?

Accordingly, in the light of replies of the applicant, the consular may extend the interview up-to 30-45 mins to probe further about the intent of the applicant. However, in most of the denial cases, the interview hardly goes beyond 5-10 mins. And the consular hands over a preprinted refusal letter usually with refusal under paragraph 214(b) of the Immigration and Nationality Act due to the failure of an applicant to establish entitlement to nonimmigrant status i.e. failure to establish strong ties to the home country. Put simply, this means that the applicant will not return to their home country!

What is the assurance of getting a visa after interview?

Certainly, after the interview, there are no assurances regarding the issuance of visas. Therefore, an applicant needs to wait for the decision before finalizing travel plans or the purchasing air tickets.

6. Administrative Processing

If the consular officer does not decide all the application in the interview. Some B1/B2 USA visitor visa applications require additional time after the visa interview. However, there are no standard processing times and varies on a case to case basis. Accordingly, an applicant should not make an enquiry about the B1/B2 USA visitor visa case status before 60 days.

US Visitor Visa b1b2

3. Guidance Notes

US B1/B2 Visitor Visa Application Guidance Notes

During the preceding three years, a total of 8.07m, 7.43m and 6.81m US B-type visas issued. And 3.18m, 3.01m and 3.17m applications refused. During the period there has been a marked decrease (approx. 1.26m) in the of B1/B2 visa issuance. The overall share of B-type visa in the total US nonimmigrant visas (NIV) issued in 2018 is approx. 75%. However, for the thirty-eight countries eligible under the visa waiver program (VWP), the ratio of USA B1/B2 visa in the total NIV is less than 25-40%. Accordingly, the ratio of USA B1/B2 visa, for countries not under the VWP, is usually more than 75%-90%, with a few exceptions such as the Philippines (54.89%), India (61.79%), Jamaica (63.48%) etc where the ratio is less than 75%.

US B-Type Visitor Visa Subclasses

The B-type USA visitor visa has five subclasses viz.

  1. B1 visa for business visitors
  2. B2 visa for recreation and medical visitors
  3. The B1/B2 combination visa for business and recreation
  4. B1/B2/BCC combination cards for business and recreation
  5. B1/B2/BCV combination cards (Lincoln Foil) for business and recreation

1. B1 Business Visitor Visa

The B1 subclass is for business visitors and, accordingly, a visitor on US B1 business visitor visa can:

  1. attend a business meeting and consult with associates
  2. attend a professional, scientific, business or educational convention or conference
  3. settle a real estate in the USA
  4. negotiate a trade, supply, or any other business contract
Can visitor do work on a B1 business visa in the USA?

No, a business visitor cannot do paid work on B1 visa. And also cannot study and take employment. Moreover, a visitor cannot also undertake paid performances or any professional performance before a paying audience.

Can a domestic employee apply for US B1 business visitor?

Yes, a qualified personal or domestic employee can apply for US B1 business visitor visa if domestic employee is accompanying an employer, who is a US citizen but either permanently live outside the USA or is stationed in a foreign country and is visiting or is assigned to the US temporarily. Moreover, a domestic employee of a foreign citizen who is in the USA on a B, E, F, H, I, J, L, M, O, P, or Q nonimmigrant visa (NIV) can also apply for US B1 business visitor visa.

How many applicants get US b1 business visitor visa?

Perhaps, the US consular offices and embassies nearly make 55K decisions relating to B1 business visit visa every year. Apparently, during the preceding three years, a total of 40K, 39.7K and 38.7K USA B1 business visitor visa issued. And also 14.9K, 15.2K and 14.9K applications refused.

2. B2 Tourist Visa

If the purpose of travel is recreational in nature, then an applicant needs to apply for USA B2 tourist visa. Recreational activities may include:

  • tourism and experiencing the sights and sounds of the USA
  • visiting friends or relatives
  • private medical treatment in the USA
  • fraternal or social activities
  • amateurs participating in musical, sports, and similar contests – without receiving any remunerations
How many applicants get US b2 tourist visa?

In FY 2018, the number of decisions relating to B2 visit visa has decreased from 99.9K (FY 2017) to 46K (FY 2018). During the preceding three years, a total of 43.5K, 42K and 32.4K USA B2 tourist visa issued.

3. B1/B2 Combination Visa

The B1/B2 USA visitor visa is a nonimmigrant visa (NIV). And it is a non-petition based visa for entering the USA temporarily for business (B1), recreation or medical treatment (B2), or a combination of these purposes (B1/B2). Please note, the USA B1/B2 visa enables an applicant to undertake all the eligible business and recreational activities. Moreover, the application form (DS-160) and fee (US$160) for B1 (business), B2 (recreational) and B1/B2 combination visa are the same. Therefore, most of the applicants deem expedient to apply for B1/B2 combination visa instead of B1 (for business) and B2 (for recreations).

Indeed, the US B1/B2 visitor visa is the most popular US nonimmigrant visa. Accordingly, the share of B1/B2 subclass has remained fairly consistent at 85% of all the B-type visa and cards issued during the preceding three years. Accordingly, the share of other subclasses of other B-type visit visas is quite nominal. Therefore, when we talk about USA visitor visa, we are referring to USA B1/B2 combination visa. In fact, the US consular offices and embassies nearly made 8.4m decisions relating to B1/B2 visa during FY 2018. During the preceding three years, a total of 6.88m, 6.27m and 5.7m USA B1/B2 visitor visa issued. And 2.69m, 2.56m and 2.73m applications refused.

Is it expedient for a business visitor to apply for a B1/B2 visa?

A businessperson going to the US for an official meeting may also like to experience the sights and sounds of the US. Therefore, in case of a business visit, there is no harm in applying for B1/B2 instead of B1 visa.

Should a recreational visitor apply for B1/B2 instead of B2 visa?

If an applicant is intending to visit the US for a recreational activity, then the correct choice is to apply for a US B2 tourist visa. There is no cogent reason to apply for a B1/B2 visit visa, if the purpose of visiting the USA is purely tourism or meeting family.

What is the validity of US B1/B2 Visitor Visa?

Usually, the validity period of the USA B1/B2 visa is 5-years. In some cases, the validity is also for 10-years. However, the US immigration authorities can cancel or revoke the visa during the validity period- if an applicant does not adhere to the conditions of the visa.

Do Canadian citizens need USA B1/B2 visa?

No Canadian citizens usually don’t require a US B1/B2 visa for travelling to the USA.

4. B1/B2/BCC combination cards

The B1/B2/border crossing cards are only for Mexican Citizens. During the preceding three years, a total of 1.06m, 1.03m and 0.96m USA B1/B2/BCC combination cards issued to Mexican citizens. And 407K, 373K and 404K applications refused. Likewise, B1/B2 and Border Crossing Cards (Lincoln Foil) are also only for Mexican Citizens. During the preceding three years, a total of 46K, 43K and 69K USA B1/B2/BCV cards (Lincoln Foil) issued to Mexican citizens. And 7.4K, 3.9K and 10.7K applications refused.

Reapplication after Refusal

Indeed, an applicant can reapply B1/B2 USA visitor visa after rejection without any restrictions i.e. an applicant can reapply as many times as they may deem appropriate. However, it is important that before reapplying an applicant should have appropriate evidence and reasons to overcome the basis for the B1/B2 USA visitor visa rejection. Moreover, there is no point in reapplying for more than 2-3 times if the result is a denial decision. It is better to discuss with an immigration specialist.

Can an applicant reapply B1/B2 visa within 6-months of refusal?

This is a general misconception. There is no time restriction before reapplying after rejection/denial. For instance, if an applicant gets a refusal on Aug 5, 2019, and then can immediately repeat the process i.e. complete the online application, pay the fee, and book the next available interview appointment! There are no legal or administrative bindings, and no one is stopping the applicant. However, the applicant should realistically evaluate the chances of success. There is no point in getting impatient and making an impetuous decision!

US Visa Waiver Program (VWP)

The visa waiver program (VWP) enables the nationals of thirty-eight participating countries to travel to the US for tourism or business for up to 90 days. However, travellers need to have a valid Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) approval.

What if my passport expires before the US visa validity date?

In case the passport expires before the validity period of the B1/B2 US visitor visa then an applicant can use the valid visa for travel and admission to the US with the new passport containing the same biographic data. It is important that the applicant should not remove the visa page from the precious passport but should carry both passports together.