B-1/B-2 FACT SHEET: QUALIFYING FOR A VISITOR VISA
Generally, a citizen of a foreign country who wishes to enter the United States must first obtain a visa, either a nonimmigrant visa for temporary stays or an immigrant visa for permanent residence. The Visitor Visa is a nonimmigrant visa for persons desiring to enter the United States temporarily for business (B-1), or temporarily for pleasure or medical treatment (B-2). Persons planning to travel to the U.S. for a different purpose such as students, temporary workers, etc., must apply for a different visa in the appropriate category.
QUALIFYING FOR A VISA
Applicants for visitor visas must show that they qualify under provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). The presumption in the law is that every visa applicant is an intending immigrant. Therefore, applicants for visitor visas must overcome this presumption by demonstrating:
That the purpose of their trip is to enter the U.S. for business, pleasure, or medical treatment;
That they plan to remain for a specific, limited period; and
That they have a residence outside the U.S. as well as other binding ties which will insure their return abroad at the end of the visit.
APPLYING FOR A VISITOR VISA
Applicants for visitor visas should generally apply at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate with jurisdiction over their place of permanent residence. Although visa applicants may apply at other U.S. consular offices abroad, it may be more difficult to qualify for the visa outside the country of permanent residence.
Required Documentation and Evidence
Applicants must demonstrate that they are properly classifiable as visitors under U.S. law. Evidence that shows the purpose of the trip, intent to depart the United States, and arrangements made to cover the costs of the trip should be provided. It is impossible to specify the exact form the evidence should take since applicants’ circumstances vary greatly. But some general guidelines are as follows:
Persons traveling to the U.S. on business can present a letter from the U.S. business firm indicating the purpose of the trip, the bearer’s intended length of stay, and the firm’s intent to defray travel costs.
Persons traveling to the U.S. for pleasure may use letters from relatives or friends in the U.S. whom the applicant plans to visit, or confirmation of participation in a planned tour.
Persons traveling to the U.S. for medical treatment should have a statement from a doctor or institution concerning proposed medical treatment.
Those applicants who do not have sufficient funds to support themselves while in the U.S. must present convincing evidence that an interested person will provide support. Visitors are not permitted to accept employment during their stay in the U.S. Depending on individual circumstances, applicants may provide other evidence substantiating the purpose of the trip, and specifying the nature of binding obligations, such as family ties or employment, which would compel their return abroad after a short stay.
Attempting to obtain a visa by the willful misrepresentation of a material fact, or fraud, may result in the permanent refusal of a visa or denial of entry into the United States.
If the consular officer should find it necessary to deny the issuance of a visitor visa, the applicant may apply again if there is new evidence to overcome the basis for the refusal. In the absence of new evidence, consular officers are not obliged to re-examine such cases.
U.S. Port Of Entry
Applicants should be aware that a visa does not guarantee entry into the United States. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has authority to deny admission. Also, the period for which the bearer of a visitor visa is authorized to remain in the United States is determined by DHS, not the consular officer. At the port of entry, a DHS official must authorize the traveler’s admission to the U.S. At that time an electronic I-94, Record of Arrival/Departure, which notes the length of stay permitted, is entered into the online system at https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov/. Those visitors who wish to stay beyond the time indicated on their I-94 record must file an application to extend their status. The decision to grant or deny a request for extension of stay is made solely by DHS.
If you have questions regarding B1 visas or B2 visas, we are here to help. Contact Savitz Law today to schedule your immigration consult.