The United States of America is a beautiful and great Country to work in; it has an impressive infrastructure and beautiful nature. Many people prefer to choose the United States of America as their travel or business destination because of its attractive business environment.

There are available visas which only give you the right to enter the country for visiting purposes. Either for business or Tourism, these visas are USA B1/B2 visitor Visa or USA B1/B2 visa waiver program. The two Visas are similar, but there are distinct differences between USA B1/B2 Visitor Visa and the USA B1/B2 Visa Waiver Program.

Here, we will discuss what USA B1/B2 visitor visa and USA B1/B2 visa waiver program is, their differences, permission activities and all you need to know about the two visas.

What then is USA B1/B2 Visitor Visa and USA B1/B2 Visa Waiver program?

The USA B1/B2 visitor visa is for people traveling to the United States temporarily for business or for pleasure or medical treatment. Generally, the B-1 visa is for travelers consulting with business associates, attending scientific, educational, professional or business conventions/conferences, settling an estate or negotiating contracts. The B-2 visa is for travel that is recreational in nature, including tourism, visits with friends or relatives, medical treatment and activities of a fraternal, social or service nature. Often, the B-1 and B-2 visas are combined and issued as one visa: the B-1/B-2.

USA B1/B2 Visa Waiver program                   

The US Visa Waiver Program (VWP) allows people from certain designated countries to travel to the US temporarily for business or tourism without a visa. if a visitor is from one of the participating countries in the Visa Waiver Program, the B1or B2 visitor visa is not needed from such visitor to enter the United States of America. Instead, the visitor may enter in “visa waiver” status. Visa Waiver travelers must first register with the new DHS Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA).  ESTA Registration is done electronically at the  ESTA website . There are currently 38 countries participating in the Visa waiver program which are: Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brunei, Czech Republic, Chile, Denmark, Estonia,  France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal,  San Marino, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, San Marino, United Kingdom.

Note: visitors who are in the United States with the USA B1/B2 visa are prohibited from enrolling in a course of study at a U.S. Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP)-certified school.

If you are a B-1 or B-2 nonimmigrant and wish to study at a U.S. school, you must file a Form I-539, “Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status,” with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to change to either an F-1 or M-1 status and pay the required fee and include the required documents listed in the


The Differences between USA B1/B2 Visitor Visa and USA B1/B2 Visa Waiver Program

  1. The USA B1/B2 visitor visa is available to individuals who want to visit the USA for business or pleasure. And no restriction on the country of origin. While the USA B1/B2 visitor visa waiver program is available to individuals who want to visit the USA for Business or pleasure if the visitor is a citizen of one of 38 designated US visa waiver countries.
  2. The USA B1/B2 visitor visa holder can extend status for up to one (1) year and can request a change of status, if eligible. While the USA B1/B2 visitor visa waiver program holder cannot generally extend status or change status.
  3. The USA B1/B2 visitor visa holder is eligible to file for adjustment of status to become a legal permanent resident during the authorized period of stay. While the USA B1/B2 visitor visa waiver program holder is eligible to fill adjustment of status to become a legal permanent resident but only as a beneficiary of an immediate relative immigrant petition.
  4. Overstaying will result in the automatic revocation of the B1/B2 visa. A new visa will be required in order to re-enter the US. While overstaying of a USA B1/B2 visitor visa waiver program holder will result in the automatic forfeiture of the ability to use visa waiver. Individuals will need to apply for a B1/b2 visa in order to re-enter the US.
  5. USA B1/B2 visitor visa holders have a right to contest any action for removal “deportation”. While a visa waiver program holder waives the right to be able to contest any action for deportation when they enter the U.S.A. A visa waiver program entrant can be removed or deported without ever seeing an immigration judge.

USA B1/B2 Visa Qualifications

If you apply for USA B1/B2 visa, you must demonstrate to a consular officer that you qualify for a U.S. visa in accordance with the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). Section 214(b) of the INA presumes that every B-1/B-2 applicant is an intending immigrant. You must overcome this legal presumption by showing:

  • That the purpose of your trip to the U .S. is for a temporary visit, such as business, pleasure, or medical treatment
  • That you plan to remain in the U.S. for a specific, limited period of time
  • Evidence of funds to cover your expenses while in the United States
  • That you have a residence outside the U.S., as well as other binding social or economic ties, that will ensure your return abroad at the end of your visit personal or domestic employees and crew members working aboard vessels within the outer continental shelf may qualify for B1 visas under certain circumstances.

Permissible Activities under the US B1  Visa

The holder of a B1 visa or a travelling for business without a visa under the visa waiver program, may undertake any one of the following activities:

  • Attend business or professional conferences or conventions
  • Consult with business associates
  • Negotiate contracts
  • Purchase goods or materials
  • Appear as a witness in court trials
  • Undertake independent research

Travelers entering the U.S. under the B1 classification may not perform productive work or accept paid or unpaid employment. They cannot work while they are in the U.S. nor can they be paid by a source in the U.S. People intending to work in the U.S. need to go in for work visas like H-1, H-2, L-1 or other visas. The B1 visa category does not have a corresponding dependent visa category. Dependents accompanying B1 visa holders will have to qualify on their own basis for a B visa. There are limited instances when a B-1 visa can be used in lieu of an H-1B visa. This is applicable only when the beneficiary is entering the U.S. as an employee of a foreign entity to offer services in the U.S. This person has to be paid by the foreign employer and is allowed to receive only expense allowances or other reimbursement from a U.S. entity for expenses incurred during his/her temporary stay in the U.S.

Getting a B1 business visa involves careful preparation of an error free application. The application maybe approved immediately, but it could be a few days or weeks before the visa is received. The visa gives you permission to appear at a Port of Entry. A CBP official will determine the duration of your stay in the U.S. and the date will be stamped on your I-94 card which will be placed in your passport. You must leave the U.S. on or before that date.

Permissible Activities under the U.S B2

The holder of a B2 visa or a person travelling for pleasure without a visa under the visa waiver program, may undertake any one of the following activities

  • Visit friends/relatives
  • Undergo medical treatment
  • Participate in conventions, conferences or convocations of fraternal or social organizations

Persons on a B-2 visa are not allowed to study or work during their stay in the U.S. In certain cases, tourist visa holders can participate in courses which are recreational and not credit based. These courses should be for no longer than 18 hours per week. An example would be a tourist attending a dance workshop for two days while on a visit for purely tourism purposes; no credits are earned and the learning was for recreational purposes.

However, it is always advisable that the person checks with their consulate and the school if the visa could be used for such a study. Persons traveling to the U.S. to attend courses or conferences and seminars to earn credits towards a degree need student visas.

The B-2 visa category does not have a corresponding dependent visa category. Dependents accompanying B-2 visa holders will have to qualify on their own basis for a B visa. The B-2 visa can be used by dependents of certain other non-immigrant visa holders.

USA B1/B2 VISA Application Items

If you apply for a business/tourist visa, you must submit the following:

  • A Nonimmigrant Visa Electronic Application (DS-160) Form.
  • A passport valid for travel to the United States with validity dates at least six months beyond your intended period of stay in the United States (unless country-specific agreements provide exemptions). If more than one person is included in your passport, each person desiring a visa must submit an application.
  • (5cmx5cm) photograph
  • A receipt showing payment of your US$160 non-refundable nonimmigrant visa application processing fee paid in local currency. If a visa is issued, there may be an additional visa issuance reciprocity fee, depending on your nationality.
  • If you are an L-1 applicant on a blanket petition, you must pay a fraud prevention and detection fee.
  • The receipt number printed on your approved I-129 petition. Please note that Form I-797 is no longer required for the interview.

USA B1/B2 Visa Supporting Documents

Supporting documents are only one of many factors a consular officer will consider in your interview. Consular officers look at each application individually and consider professional, social, cultural and other factors during adjudication. Consular officers may look at your specific intentions, family situation, and your long-range plans and prospects within your country of residence. Each case is examined individually and is accorded every consideration under the law. You may consider bringing the following documents to your interview.

  • Current proof of income, tax payments, property or business ownership, or assets.
  • Your travel itinerary and/or other explanation about your planned trip.
  • A letter from your employer detailing your position, salary, how long you have been employed, any authorized vacation, and the business purpose, if any, of your U.S. trip.
  • Criminal/court records pertaining to any arrest or conviction anywhere, even if you completed your sentence or were later pardoned.

In addition to the documents listed above, the following documents maybe require:


  • Bring your latest school results,
  • Transcripts and degrees/diplomas.
  • Evidence of financial support such as monthly bank statements.
  • Fixed deposit slips, or other evidence.

Working adults:

  • An employment letter from your employer and pay slips from the most recent three months.

Businessmen and company directors:

  • Evidence of your position in the company and remuneration.

 Visiting a relative:

  • Photocopies of your relative’s proof of status (e.g. Green Card, naturalization certificate, valid visa, etc).

 For Applicants Seeking Medical Care

  • A medical diagnosis from a local physician explaining the nature of your ailment and the reason you require treatment in the United States.
  • A letter from a physician or medical facility in the United States expressing a willingness to treat this specific ailment and detailing the projected length and cost of treatment (including doctors’ fees, hospitalization fees, and all medical-related expenses).
  • If someone other than yourself is paying for your medical care in the U.S., a statement of financial responsibility from the individuals or organization paying for your transportation, medical and living expenses. The individuals guaranteeing payment of these expenses must provide proof of their ability to do so, often in the form of bank or other statements of income/savings or certified copies of income tax returns.

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