B-1 and B-2 Visitor Visas

Foreign individuals who want to conduct short-term business in the U.S. generally apply for B-1 visas. B-2 visas apply to more social events.

Last updated on May 14th, 2019

Making a short trip to the United States doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, compared to other visa applications, applying for B-1 and B-2 visitor visas can be quite short, simple, and cheap.

This article will cover the basics of B-1 and B-2 visitor visas, including who is eligible, the advantages and disadvantages of these and other visas, and other information that will help you determine if these visas are right for you.

What is a B-1 Visitor Visa?

The B-1 visitor visa is for temporary business visitors. Generally, anyone conducting short-term business in the United States will apply for a B-1 visa.

Some of the commercial or professional activities that might require a B-1 visitor visa include things like meeting with business associates, attending conferences related to your field, and negotiating contracts.

If you feel that you need a B-1 temporary business visitor visa, but your reason for traveling is not listed directly on the USCIS website, you may still be eligible.

If you are unsure whether or not the B-1 temporary visa is for you, contact an attorney for advice.

Additionally, if you plan to bring your family along, they must instead apply for the B-2 visa described below.

Period of Stay

Generally, B-1 visas last for the duration of your business in the United states, up to a maximum of six months. This period may also be extended with an I-539 form.


If you think that a B-1 visa is right for you, remember to check to make sure you are eligible. According to the USCIS, the criteria for eligibility require that you:

  • Enter the United States for legitimate business.
  • Plan to stay in the U.S. for a specific and limited period of time.
  • Have the funds to afford your trip and stay in the U.S.
  • Have a permanent residence outside of the U.S. that you don’t plan to abandon, as well as other binding ties to ensure that you will return home at the end of your trip.
  • Are otherwise admissible to the United States.

What is a B-2 Visitor Visa?

The B-2 visitor visa is for temporary tourism and pleasure visits.

The types of visits to the United States that would qualify for a B-2 visitor visa include activities like vacations, visits to friends and family, medical treatment, sightseeing, and social events like weddings.


The eligibility requirements for the B-2 temporary visa are essentially the same as the B-1 visa, except that the reason for your visit to the United States will be for pleasure instead of business.

Is this the Right Visa for Me?


There are several advantages to applying for B-1 and B-2 visitor visas.

Because these visas allow you to travel to the U.S. for specific and limited amounts of time, the application process is easier and faster than some other types of visas. Usually, travel times range from 30 to 180 days. In addition, the fees related to this type of visa are much lower than the other types.


Although there are several advantages to applying for a temporary visitor visa, there are also some disadvantages. B-1 and B-2 visitor visas have specific limits on the types of activities you can engage in while you visit the United States.

Before you apply, make sure your temporary visa will actually meet your professional and personal needs while visiting the United States.

Remember also that these visas only last for limited periods of time. Temporary visitor visas are good for periods of up to 6 months. This may be an advantage for tourists and people conducting international business, but it will also limit your ability to extend your trip.

How to Apply for B-1 and B-2 Visitor Visas

In order to apply for a temporary visitor visa, you will need to complete the following steps:

  • Fill out the electronic application (Form DS-160)
  • Pay the required fee
  • Schedule and attend an interview if you are between the ages of 14 and 79 at your U.S. Embassy or Consulate

Remember, if you plan to bring family they will also need to complete this process separately. If you are applying for a B-1 temporary business visa, your family members will likely apply for the B-2 tourist temporary visa.

Other Visas

A temporary visa is not always right for your needs. You may not use a B-1 or B-2 temporary visa for the following:

  • Study
  • Employment
  • Paid performances (performing before a paying audience)
  • Arrival as a crew member on a ship or aircraft
  • Work as foreign press
  • Permanent Residence in the United States

Many of these circumstances will require either an employment-based, longer term visa or a different type of visitor visa.


B-1 and B-2 visitor visas are a great way to plan a trip to the United States for limited periods of time. A B-1 visa is for temporary business travel, while a B-2 visa is for temporary tourist and pleasure visits.

In general, both of these visas are easier to get than other types, however, they also last for shorter durations.

If you have any questions about your eligibility or how to apply, remember that an attorney can help you with the process. 

Further, if you overstay your visa, or want to remain in the U.S. after your visa expires, you should contact an immigration attorney asap. Speaking with an attorney can help make the whole process a lot easier.

Was this post helpful?

Need an attorney?

Our articles provide general information about all of our practice areas. If you're looking for legal counsel specific to your situation, you'll need to talk to a lawyer.

Share This