B-1/B-2 Visitors & the Visa Waiver Program
B-1 visas are available for those wanting to temporarily stay in the United States to conduct business. Business visitors include foreign nationals that come to the United States to engage in commercial activities other than gainful employment. Permissible activities while in the United States pursuant to a B-1 visas include attending conferences, conducting business meetings, negotiating contracts, and consulting and meeting with clients.
B-2 visas are available for temporary visitors for pleasure. Activities permissible in the United States pursuant to a B-2 visa include tourism, social visits to friends or family, and participation in social conferences. A B-2 visa holder may also come to the United States for the purpose of medical treatment.
Applications for visitor visas generally require an interview at a United States embassy. The application process begins with a prospective visitor completing the State Department's online DS-160. Once a DS-160 is submitted and a non-immigrant visa fee paid, an interview can be scheduled. Applicants should be prepared to explain the purpose, length, and means of paying for his or her trip. Applicants may need to also provide documents showing ties to his or her home country.
The Visa Waiver Program (VWP) allows certain travelers to avoid the visa application process altogether. Currently 37 countries, including many European countries, Japan, Singapore, and South Korea participate in the visa waiver program. A visa waiver applicant must be a citizen or national of a visa waiver country. Each visa waiver traveler must have authorization from the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) prior to boarding a U.S. bound flight or sea vessel. Trips pursuant to the Visa Waiver Program are limited to 90 days.
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