Have Questions?
close slider
Have Questions?
close slider

Call Us


US B-1 and B-2 Visitor Visas

The US B-1 and B-2 Visitor Visa system allows entry for business and pleasure to the US. We provide guides on the requirements for US B-1 for business and B-2 Visitor pleasure Visas, and on the US Visitor Visa Waiver Pilot Program, which allows citizens of certain 'visa waiver' countries to enter the US by applying for a visa online using the ESTA system.

B-1 business visitor visa and B-2 visitor for pleasure visa

Business travelers may enter the United States using a B-1 'Visitor for Business' Visa. Typically these visas are issued as joint B-1 business visit visa and B-2 ‘Visitor for Pleasure' (i.e. Tourist) visa. This practice means that, if you have an old B-1/B-2 visa originally issued for a tourist trip, it may be valid for a planned business trip.

If you are a national of a Country that comes under the B-1/B-2 visa-waiver scheme for visits to the US for ninety days or less you should probably apply online using ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization). This avoids the necessity of applying for a B-1/B-2 visit visa at the US Embassy in person.

B-1 Business Visitor Eligible activities

While in the US as a business visitor, an individual may:

  • Conduct Negotiations
  • Solicit Sales or Investment
  • Discuss planned investment or purchases.
  • Make investments or purchases
  • Attend Meetings, and participate in them fully
  • interview and hire staff.
  • Conduct research

B-1 Business Visitor Ineligible activities

The following activities require a working visa, and may not be carried out by business visitors:

  • Running a business.
  • "Gainful employment".
  • Payment by an organization within the US.
  • Participating as a professional in entertainment or sporting events.

Obviously there is a considerable 'gray area' in between what definitely is allowed and what definitely isn't. It is advisable to err on the side of caution when bringing overseas persons into the USA on business visitor visas. However, in certain strictly limited cases, paid employment may be possible using a US H-1B visa.

Length of stay

Those entering on visitor visas will generally be granted 6 months admission on entry, though the maximum allowable stay is 1 year. It may be possible to obtain a six-month extension to the visit visa as long as the candidate will be maintaining visitor status, and there are good reasons to do so. It is sometimes possible to change status to another longer - term visa whilst in the US as a visitor, as long as the candidate advised the relevant US Embassy or Consulate of this possibility beforehand, or there was no pre-conceived intent to do so.


US Visitor Visas should generally be applied for in a country of which the candidate is a Citizen or permanent resident. Applications made in other countries often run a high risk of being turned down. The most common reason for refusal of B1/B2 visas is the applicant showing insufficient evidence of social, family or economic ties to his/her country of residence that would ensure that s/he would return there following the visit to the USA.

If the necessary conditions are satisfied then the applicant can apply for a visa. If you would like to find out if you qualify, you may fill out our US visa assessment form.

The B-1/B-2 Visit Visa Waiver Pilot Program:

The B-1/B-2 Visa Waiver Pilot Program allows citizens of certain countries to visit the US for up to 90 days without a Visitor Visa. To check if your country is on the list, and for full details, please see our US B-1 and B-2 Visitor Visa Waiver Pilot Program section.

The B-1 in lieu of an H-1B

In certain, limited circumstances the US Consulate may grant a B-1 Business Visitor Visa for work which would normally require and H-1B Work Visa. This provision can be useful when a non-US company wants to send someone to undertake a specific and limited project for a US-based client, or where an employee from a US subsidiary or affiliate company is needed for a short period.

B-1 visas are significantly easier and quicker to obtain for these purposes than the heavily oversubscribed H-1B visa.

The US B-1 and B-2 Visitor Visa Waiver Pilot Program

As long as you are travelling on a participating airline (i.e. most scheduled airlines from participating countries), and hold a return or onward ticket to a country other than Canada, Citizens in the country list below do not need a visa for visits to the US of up to 90 days: Please note that you still need to apply online under ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorisation).

Unfortunately there are new restrictions on the visa waiver pilot program. Travelers in the following categories are no longer eligible to travel or be admitted to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP):

  • If you are a National of a visa waiver pilot program Country (VWP) countries and have visited Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, or Yemen on or after March 1, 2011 you will in most cases have to apply for a B-1/B-2 visa at the nearby US Embassy or Consulate. There are exceptions to this rule for example if you have travelled for diplomatic or military purposes working for a VWP country).
  • In addition if you are a national of a visa waiver country and are also a national of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, or Yemen you will also need to apply for a visit visa at the relevant US Embassy or Consulate,

List of B-1/B-2 Visa Waiver Countries:

Andorra Australia Austria Latvia Leichtenstein
Belgium Brunei Chile Luxembourg Malta
Czech Republic Denmark Estonia Netherlands New Zealand
Finland France Germany Portugal San Marino
Greece Hungary Iceland Slovakia Slovenia
Ireland Italy Japan Spain Sweden
Switzerland South Korea Lithuania Taiwan United Kingdom
Singapore Norway Monaco

Those present in the US under the visa waiver scheme are subject to similar conditions as those on the usual B1/B2 visa scheme, except that it is limited to ninety days and it is not usually possible to extend the visa while in the US or change to another visa.