Traveling to the US for business or pleasure: Get a B1 or B2 visa
What is the B visa?
B visas are non-immigrant visas available for residents and citizens of foreign countries who would like
to go for a short and temporary stay in the United States for business or pleasure activities. The issuance
of the B visa does not require approval of a petition by the Citizenship and Immigration Services of the
United States. Typically, a person who seeks a B visa simply needs the approval of a consular officer at a
US Embassy. There are two kinds of B visas: the B1 visa and the B2 visa. Generally, the B1 visa is for
business travelers and the B2 visa is for tourists or those who come to the US to engage in activities of
What’s unique about B visas?
B visas may be issued for multiple entries into the United States and will be valid for ten years. This
means you only need one visa and you can go for numerous short stays in the United States for ten
How difficult is it to obtain a B visa?
B visas are difficult to obtain as consular officers scrutinize applications to ensure that applicants have
no intention to immigrate to the United States. To immigrate means to stay permanently whether
legally or illegally, to work and to establish residence in the United States. Consular officers typically
probe whether B visa applicants have sufficient ties to their country of origin to ensure that they will
return to their country after their visit to the US.
The consular officer will ask probing questions to determine whether applicants for B visas intend to
work while visiting the United States. Working in the US while on a B visa is strictly prohibited. So,
consular officers will determine whether applicants have sufficient financial ability to visit and stay in the
United States without needing to work.
What must be the purpose of an applicant who wishes to travel on a B visa?
The B visa encourages international travel by foreign nationals to the United States to facilitate cultural,
social, economic and commercial ties. A B1 visa is for business while a B2 visa is generally for pleasure;
that is, for visiting relatives and friends, for visiting tourist attractions and participating in social events
in the United States. However, the B2 visa can also be issued for persons seeking medical services in the
How is the purpose of “engaging in business” different from “employment”?
Engaging in business includes activities such as procuring business contacts, suppliers, or buyers in the
United States. It also includes negotiating of contract terms to buy or sell goods or to provide services
that will be performed outside the United States and which will be paid outside the United States.
Engaging in business also means consulting with business associates or engaging in litigation to further
business interests or business rights. Engaging in business also includes participating in scientific,
education, professional or business conventions or conferences, seminars or research activities.
In contrast, employment usually means engaging in semi-skilled or unskilled labor or paid employment
in the United States. It means providing professional or hands-on work that will be remunerated in the
United States. If a professional service does not involve hands-on work, then these may be considered
under “business” activities.
What do I need to prove when I apply for a B visa?
You will need to convince the consular officer that:
- You have a valid purpose for visiting the US.
- The business or pleasure activities you intend to engage in are legal.
- Your intended stay in the United States is for a limited and specific duration.
- You have established residency in a foreign country.
- You have no desire to abandon your country of residence because you have strong ties to your
country of residence.
- You have sufficient funds to finance the expenses of your visit.
What documents do I need to bring with me to prove the purpose of my visit?
For business purposes, when applying for a B1 visa:
- You can bring a copy of the incorporation papers of your business or company.
- You can bring bank statements that prove that your business is a going concern.
- You can bring letters or contracts from business associates or clients in the United States.
- You can bring brochures or business prospectuses that show that your business is legitimate and
that you are trading goods that are not contraband.
- You can bring copies of contracts or invoices that you want to pursue in the United States.
- If you are litigating, you must bring court documents asking for your appearance in a US court.
For pleasure purposes, when applying for a B2 visa:
- If you are visiting friends and relatives, you can bring letters expressing their invitation for you to
come and visit. You must also bring proof of status of your relatives. If they are citizens or legal
permanent residents in the United States, you must provide their green card number or Alien
Certificate of Registration or a copy of their certificate of naturalization.
- If you are attending a family event such as a wedding, bring the wedding invitation.
- If you will go sightseeing or on a tour, have an itinerary ready. Most attractions such as theme
parks require booking information and tickets to show that you have indeed paid for them and
that you intend to go to those tourist attractions.
- You may bring airline tickets or airline reservation advice.
- If you are attending a seminar or conference, bring the brochures that explain what the seminar
is all about and if you have paid for the conference or seminar, bring the receipt evidencing
- If you are going for medical treatment, you must bring a doctor’s certificate of a diagnosis, you
must bring documentation for your ailment and documentation for the recommended
treatment. You must also prove that the hospital or clinic in the United States provides the
treatment you seek and that you have sufficient funding to undergo that treatment.
What documents do I need to establish my identity and my ties to my country of residence?
You will be required to bring your passport. Your passport must be valid for six months beyond the end
of your proposed stay in the United States. If you have travelled to other countries before and you have
visa stamps from other countries you visited, this will show that you travel for your work or for your
pleasure, but you return to your country of residence.
If you are a first-time traveler to the United States, then you must prove that you are not only who you
say you are, you must also prove that you intend to stay temporarily in the United States and that you
have a need to return to your country of residence.
You can present:
- A title deed to your house or the lease to your house.
- A title deed to your place of business or the lease to your place of business.
- If you own a car you must show your official receipt and certificate of registration.
- You can bring a copy of your driver’s license, school ID, employment ID or professional license or
- You can bring copies of your bank statement to show that you have sufficient funds.
- You can bring tax payment forms or returns or receipts for any personal income taxes or
business taxes you have paid.
- If you have family in your country of residence, bring pictures and documents that show your
relationship to prove that you do not intend to abandon them.
- Proof that you are a law abiding citizen such as a certificate from the police or from the courts
or the prosecution service in your country that shows that you have no pending criminal cases
or warrants of arrests outstanding against you.
What are the steps to take to apply for a B1 or B2 visa?
Applying for any visa to go to the United States involves the following steps:
1. Pay for the visa fee.
a. Print out the confirmation of the payment of the visa fee.
b. Print out a copy of the receipt with the receipt number clearly visible.
c. Retain a copy of this for your records.
2. Fill out the DS-160 form.
a. Print out a copy of the confirmation that your DS-160 form was received.
b. You will be provided a bar code for the form you submitted.
3. Apply for an appointment for interview at the embassy.
a. Go online and choose a date for your interview.
b. Schedule an appointment.
c. Provide your passport number, receipt number for the visa fee, and the bar code for the
DS-160 form you submitted.
4. Appear for your interview at the embassy.
a. Bring all the documents you need.
b. Bring your passport.
The most difficult thing about applying for a B1 or B2 visa is knowing how to document the purpose of
your stay and the length of your stay. If you need help in procuring documentation for your stay, you
can talk to your lawyers at Lluis Law. If you need help preparing for your interview, the lawyers at Lluis
Law can help you prepare for your interview. Call Lluis Law today.