- The most common nonimmigrant visa is the B visa, of which there are two types: B-1 visas for business visitors and B-2 visas for pleasure visitors. The application for the visa is made at a United States consulate. When applying, the applicant must demonstrate financial arrangements for the trip, specificity of trip plans, ties to the applicant’s home country and ties to the U.S.In most cases, successful applicants for the visa will be given a multiple entry visa stamp saying “B-1/B-2” that is valid for 10 years. However, this does not mean that a person can stay in the U.S. for as long as the visa is valid. The U.S. has a two-part system for entering. The visa is the first part, allowing the alien to seek admission at a U.S. point of entry. The second part is the white I-94 card issued by the inspector at the point of entry, authorizing the visitor to stay in the U.S. for a specified period of time. Thus, the 10-year visa would allow a person to seek admission multiple times over the 10 years, but an inspector will determine the length of time authorized for each visit.B-1 Business Visitors
- The B-1 Business Visitor category is available to persons who can demonstrate that they have no intention of abandoning their residence abroad and they are visiting the U.S. temporarily for business. Most B-1 admissions are approved for just the period necessary to conduct business, and individuals are normally permitted to stay no longer than three months.Business visitors are limited in the activities in which they are permitted to engage. B-1 visa holders must not be engaged in productive employment in the U.S. either for a U.S. employer or on an independent basis. Any work done in the U.S. must be performed on behalf of a foreign employer and paid for by the foreign employer. The work should also be related to international commerce or trade.B-2 Pleasure Visitors
- The B-2 pleasure visa covers tourists, visits to relatives or friends, visits for health reasons, participation in incidental or short courses of study, and participation in amateur arts and entertainment events. In order to qualify for a B-2 visa, an individual must meet a few broad requirements necessary to show nonimmigrant intent including: The alien is coming to the U.S. for a specific period of time; The alien will not be engaging in work; and The alien has no intention of abandoning his or her residence abroad during the period of stay in the U.S.
The Visa Waiver Program
Started as a pilot program in 1986 and made permanent in 2000, the visa waiver program (VWP) allows citizens of designated countries to enter the United States as business or tourist visitors for up to 90 days without requiring them to obtain a visa. Millions of people use the program each year.
Currently, 27 countries participate in the program: Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brunei, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Monaco, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. The applicant for entry under the VWP must be a citizen of the participating country, not merely a permanent resident. In the case of the United Kingdom, the person must be a British citizen, not a British overseas citizen or citizen of a Commonwealth nation.
Under the program, the participation of designated countries must be reviewed every five years. To continue participation, the rejection rate of applications for B-1/B-2 visas for that country cannot be over three percent. In addition, the country must allow U.S. citizens to visit under the same terms as the U.S. allows that country’s citizens to enter the U.S. on the VWP. When the program was made permanent in 2000, a provision was included that allowed for the immediate termination of a country in the event of an emergency such as war or economic collapse.
The applicant for entry must have a machine-readable passport, if the passport was issued prior to October 26, 2005. Passports issued or extended between October 26, 2005, and October 25, 2006, must contain a digital photograph printed on the data page or an integrated chip with information from the data page. Passports issued on or after October 26, 2006, must be electronic passports, containing the integrated chip.
Additionally, applicants must show that they have the financial resources to support themselves during their stay in the U.S. Those who arrive by boat or plane must have a return ticket. Upon arrival, applicants complete an I-94W form. On this form, applicants indicate that they waive the right to a hearing in the event they are ordered deported and that they understand they cannot apply for an extension or change of status in the U.S. Therefore, if the purpose of a person’s visit to the U.S. is to investigate possible employment or education, he or she should obtain a traditional B-1/B-2 visa.