B1/B2 Visa - Types of USA Visitor Visas, Requirements and Policy (2024)

In this article

Besides a great country to work in, the US is also a very popular country to visit. It has historical landmarks, impressive infrastructure, and beautiful nature. Additionally, the US presents an attractive environment to do business in. Many people have the US as their travel or business destination and because of that, there are also visas available which only give you the right to enter the US for visiting purposes.

What Are the US Visitor Visas?

The US visitor visasallow its holder to go to the US short-term visits for a maximum of six months.Because there are two main purposes that visitors can go to the US, there are also two types of visitor visas into the B category:

  • B1 visa is the visa which allows you to enter the US with the purpose of doing business with a company within the US.
  • B2 visa is the visa which allows you to enter the US with the purpose of tourism, pleasure, or visit to friends and family.

Important: From May 30, 2023, the cost of a B1/B2 visa application increased to $185 from the previous price of $160.

B1 vs B2 Visa

The main difference between a B1 and a B2 visa is that a B1 visa is issued for business reasons and the B2 permit is for tourism purposes to the US. Both of these visas are issued for a period of six months with the possibility of an extension to a year.

Here is a side by side comparison of the activities allowed under a B1 and a B2 visa:

B1 visaB2 visa
Negotiation and contract signing.Go to a family or school reunion.
Take part in business meetings, conventions and exhibits.Go to a family or friend event, i.e., wedding, graduation ceremony, engagements, etc.
Organize independent research.Go to recreational resorts.
Buy business-related materials and supplies.Receive medical treatment.
Finish an exam conducted only in the US.Take part in cultural events (concerts, sports events, etc) that you will not get paid for.
Give business consultations.Tour different cities in the US.

US Visitor Visa Checker

Besides each individual visa, there is also a combination of both B1 and B2 visas; however, that is more rarely sought out.

The benefit of the US visitor visas is that there is no cap on the number issued in a year, and those who abide by the rules can get it as many times as they want as long as they fulfill the criteria.

What are the Limitations of the B1/B2 Visas for USA?

With a B1/B2visa, you are allowed to visit and travel the US, but you are strictly forbidden from doing these activities:

  • Become a full or part-time student.
  • Perform and get paid for it.
  • Work in press or journalism.
  • Engage in any form of employment.
  • Enter as a crewmember on an aircraft or ship.
  • Seek permanent residence in the US.

How to Apply for the Visitor Visas?

The application for visitor visas is quite straightforward and goes through much of the similar process as other US nonimmigrant visas. This means that you apply at a US Embassy or Consulate in your home country.

For those who need a visa to visit the US, the following steps need to be followed:

Fill in Form DS-160

Form DS-160, Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application is a standard form required for a US visitor visa. It has various sections depending on the type of US visa that you are applying for. You must find the section for the visitor visas (either B1 visa or B2 visa) and fill the necessary spaces. It will ask about your personal information, background, and purpose of visit to the US. At the end, you will get a confirmation page and code which you need to retain for later.

You can fill the DS-160 form online through the Consular Electronic Application Center.

Pay the US visitor visa application fee

The application fee for the US visitor visas is $185. Besides this fee, you might have to pay visa issuance fees which are determined based on the relationship of your country with the US.

Schedule your visitor visa interview

All visa applicants between 14 and 79 years old are required to attend a US visitor visa interview with an official from the US Embassy they are applying in. To learn more about how to schedule a US visa interview, visit the following article.

Compile your document file for the B1/B2 visas

When you go to the US Embassy, you need to support your case as to why the US Embassy has to give you a visa.To apply for a US visitor visa, you need to compile a document file which contains the

  • Standard required documents for every US visa and
  • the specific document requirements for the B1 visa
  • or the required documents for the B2 visa.

Attend your interview

With your document file and depending on the type of visitor visa you are seeking, attend your interview. During the interview, the official will mostly concentrate on your intent to return to your home country. Many people try to go into the US with visitor visas and find employment illegally, so you must prove that you will return.

How Long do the USA Visitor Visas take to Process?

The processing time for the B1/B2 visa can vary from a few weeks to a few months. If you have a specific date that you need to be in the US in, it is best to apply as early as possible so that you can allow enough time for the visa to be processed.

Do I Need to Obtain Health Insurance as a Visitor in the United States?

No. Purchasing health insurance is not a requirement of the US authorities to issue a visa. However, considering the high costs of the American healthcare system you are strongly advised to get health insurance before traveling to the United States.

For instance, the treatment of a broken leg or broken arm will cost you $2,500, while staying at a US hospital for one night may cost over $10,000, on average.

Here you can find more information about travel insurance plans for visitors in the United States:

  • Travel Insurance for visitors to the USA
  • Travel Insurance for visiting parents in the USA
  • Pregnant Women Travel Insurance

How Long Are the US Visitor Visas Valid?

US Visitor visas are given for a period 1 month up to 10 years. The maximum stay on a visitor visa is six months, but bear in mind that you are not allowed to work during that time, so you must prove you can afford to stay for that period of time.

B1/B2 Visa Extension

If you want a B1/B2 visa extension, you must provide a valid reason as to why you need to stay and submit documents supporting your case. Additionally, during the time that you are in the US with a visitor visa, you can try to change your status to a longer-term visa. However, if your purpose is this, then you need to inform the officials at the Embassy during your interview. If you do not inform them, then you need to prove that you did not intend to change your status at the beginning of your trip and the opportunity came later on.

Can I Get a Green Card With the Visitor Visas?

Since the visitor visas are temporary and require you to prove that you will return to your home country, it is difficult to get permanent residence. You can do so only if you are able to change your status to a longer-term visa which allows dual intent (applying for a Green Card), marrying in the US, or applying to join your family.

Can I Bring my Dependents With a B1/B2 Visa?

The B1/B2 Visas do not have dependents visas, so if you want to travel with your family, they must also get the appropriate visitor visas.

Did you find this page helpful?

Yes No

B1/B2 Visa - Types of USA Visitor Visas, Requirements and Policy (2024)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Saturnina Altenwerth DVM

Last Updated:

Views: 5793

Rating: 4.3 / 5 (44 voted)

Reviews: 91% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Saturnina Altenwerth DVM

Birthday: 1992-08-21

Address: Apt. 237 662 Haag Mills, East Verenaport, MO 57071-5493

Phone: +331850833384

Job: District Real-Estate Architect

Hobby: Skateboarding, Taxidermy, Air sports, Painting, Knife making, Letterboxing, Inline skating

Introduction: My name is Saturnina Altenwerth DVM, I am a witty, perfect, combative, beautiful, determined, fancy, determined person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.