Typically, when a person wished to enter the United States,regardless of whether their purpose is for business or pleasure, they must first obtain a visa. However, the process can be quite tedious for those looking to visit on a very short term basis, such as a tourist or business traveler who does not intend on staying in the U.S. for an extended period of time. To make the process of entering the country easier for such individuals, the Visa Waiver Program was established.
Citizens from participating countries may enter the U.S. without a visa (or having the requirement of a visa waived) if they are a tourist or business traveler. Instead, they are granted a non-immigrant visa, or travel visa, that is valid for 90 days or less.
For travelers coming from countries that do not participate in the Visa Waiver Program, B-1 and B-2 visas are available. B-1 visas are for travelers who have personal or commercial business purposes to attend to while in the U.S. B-2 visas, on the other hand, are for individuals who are entering the U.S. as a tourist and have no business to conduct while here. These visas have a maximum length of stay of 3 months.
Short Term Business Visits
B-1 visas are issued to temporary business travelers, including (but not limited to) those who are traveling to:
- Consult with business associates
- Negotiate a contract
- Sell real estate
- Oversee training
- Attend a business convention or conference
B-1 visas have a validity period and a length of stay period. The validity period is how long the visa is valid and can be used. Usually it is one month to a year, and within the specified time, you must conduct your travel. The length of stay period is how long you are allowed to stay in the U.S. once you have traveled here; usually for a period of no more than 6 months. Some B-1 visas may allow the holder to enter the U.S. multiple times within the validity period. B-1 visas may also be renewed, or extended, for up to an additional 6 months.