We’ve gathered all the basics of B-category visas into one place

B-1/B-2 Visa Defined

B-category visitor visas are issued to people traveling, on a temporary basis, to the United States for either business or leisure. They are therefore characterized as temporary, non-immigrant visas. In fact, most temporary trips to the United States fall under the B category, excluding student-related travel. (Students looking to stay temporarily in the United States should seek out an F-1 visa.)

Those traveling to the United States for business reasons should apply for a B-1 visa, and anyone visiting as a tourist should submit an application for a B-2.

To help you get started, this article will provide an overview of the B-category visitor visa:

  1. Reasons for Travel
  2. Criteria for Eligibility
  3. Process of Applying for B-Category Visas
  4. Cost of Obtaining a B-1/B-2 Visa
  5. Some Final Thoughts

Reasons for Travel

This section will go over some of the more prevalent reasons for obtaining a B-1/B-2 visa.

Before continuing, it’s important to remember that this type of visa may only be used for temporary visits of up to 180 days. Anything beyond that timespan may not be covered. You can, however, apply for a green card as a B-category visa holder, and you are allowed to enter the United States more than once.

In short, the B-category visa may be used for temporary visits to the United States for either business or tourist purposes. The list below contains some specific reasons for getting a B-1/B-2 visa, but it’s always a good idea to first check with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) before starting the application process. You may apply for this type of visa if you are:

  • Seeking medical attention
  • Attending to matters pertaining to a relative’s estate
  • Engaging in legitimate business matters
  • Going on vacation
  • Visiting family
  • Taking part in contract negotiations
  • Going to a conference or convention, whether it be for educational, scientific, professional, or business reasons

Again, this is not an exhaustive list, so be sure to double check that the B-1/B-2 visa is right for your particular circumstances.

It’s important to remember that certain situations are not covered by a B-category visa. These include:

  • Living in the United States permanently
  • Employment that is long-term
  • Journalism, whether it be print, radio, or film
  • Research or study
  • Performance for a paying audience
  • Traveling to the United States as part of a ship or aircraft crew

If you think you’ll need assistance navigating the B-1/B-2 application process, reach out to RapidVisa today. We can help get you where you need to be.

Criteria for Eligibility

This section will cover most of the basic criteria for getting a B-1 or B-2 visa.

First, if you plan on visiting the United States for 90 days or less (for business or tourist reasons), you may want to see if you’re eligible for the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). To determine whether you’re eligible, you can check the VWP list, which currently contains 39 countries and territories, on the Department of Homeland Security’s website. If your home country is on that list, you may be able to travel to the United States without a visa.

Now, if you’re applying for a B-category visitor visa, there are certain criteria you’ll need to meet. For instance, you’ll need to show that:

  • You have enough money to travel to the United States
  • You plan on visiting for a limited timeframe
  • You do not have plans to stay beyond that timeframe
  • You aren’t going to abandon your home abroad
  • There aren’t any other reasons barring you from entering the country

You will also need to collect certain documents as part of the application process. These include:

  • Evidence that you are bound to your home outside the United States — this might include a job, property or family ties
  • Any documents pertaining to your last five trips to the United States — this may or may not apply to your situation
  • A passport that will remain valid for 6 months after your return date
  • Evidence of sufficient funds to cover travel, day-to-day expenses, and temporary living arrangements
  • A recently obtained digital photograph — be sure to follow the requirements listed on the U.S. Department of State’s website

If you satisfy the above-mentioned criteria and you can gather the necessary documents, you’re ready to start the application process.

Process of Applying for a B-Category Visa

In this section, we’ll provide a brief overview of the B-1/B-2 visa application process.

You’ll be able to obtain a B-category visa through an embassy or consulate in your home country. While it is possible to submit an application in another country, you may find that it takes longer to process.

You will eventually need to attend an interview, but before you do, you will need to fill out the DS160 form, also called the Online Non-Immigrant Application. Once you’ve completed the form, you can:

  • Print out the confirmation page
  • Pay any fees
  • Upload your digital photos
  • Schedule your interview

You will then need to attend the interview, which should be at the consulate or embassy. Be sure to bring with you the confirmation page of the Online Non-Immigrant Application and any fee receipts. Know that, while you are at the interview, the consular officer may take digital fingerprints. They may also inform you that your application will require more time to process.

Cost of Obtaining a B-1/B-2 Visa

To calculate the total cost of the application process, you’ll need to add any money spent on the required documents — including the digital photographs and evidence mentioned above — to the visa filing fee, which is currently $160.

IMPORTANT UPDATE (APRIL 2023):  The cost of B visas and other nonimmigrant visas will increase on May 30, 2023. The 15% increase changes the filing fee from $160 to $185 for all applications filed after the rule goes into effect. Learn more here.

If you need help creating a budget for your B-1 or B-2 visa application, reach out to RapidVisa today.

Some Final Thoughts

It’s important to note that if you plan on bringing anyone else with you — whether they be a spouse or a child — you will need to submit a separate B-2 visa application for each person accompanying you.

As briefly mentioned above, you can change your visa status while holding a B-category visa. Whether you’ve accepted a job offer in the United States or developed a serious relationship during your trip, you may need to find a more permanent solution. We at RapidVisa can help you do just that. Contact us today so we can get the ball rolling on your future.