B Category Nonimmigrant Visa Process.
1. General Requirements
The B nonimmigrant visa category covers alien visitors for business (B-1) and pleasure (B-2).Sec 101(a)(15)(B) of the Act, 8 U.S.C.A. Sec 1101(a)(15)(B). By far the vast majority of aliens who enter the United States each year do so as nonimmigrant visitors in the B visa category. Generally, stays in the United States in this category are brief, and involve such activities as touring, visiting family members, obtaining health care, or conducting business on behalf of an overseas employer. The trips are temporary and cannot involve employment in the United States or the undertaking of an academic study program.
2. Duration of Stay
While most stays in the U.S. in the B visa category are short, it is possible under current B rules to obtain a period of admission of one year on initial entry to this country. In addition, extensions of stay can be granted for no more than six months at a time.
A business visitor (B-1) will be granted only a period of entry necessary to conduct his or her business. Most such visits are approved for less than three months, and only in unusual circumstances would a stay of more than six months be granted. Tourists in the B-2 category are automatically given a period of entry of six months, even if the visitor intends to remain only for a shorter period. A longer period than six months can be granted, but only under unusual circumstances, while a border agent can give less than six months only “for good cause,” and only when approved by a higher-level official.
Admissions under visa waiver programs: Aliens admitted to the United States as part of the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) or the Guam Visa Waiver Program have different rules applicable to them regarding duration of stay and extension of stay.
3. Application Process
Unlike many other nonimmigrant categories, the B visa category requires application only to the U.S. consulate; no special permission needs to be obtained from the Immigration Service in the U.S. before a visa is issued. The visa application process is straightforward and for many foreign nationals, particularly from Europe, the visa can be issued for a period of validity upto 10 years and for an unlimited number of enteries. To addition, a visa waiver program has been put into effect for visitors from 27 countries.
4. Special Conditions
The key condition of the B category is that the alien cannot engage in gain-full employment (labor for hire) in the U.S. The crucial factor is: Will the alien be paid a salary from a U.S. employer or otherwise engage in activity here that results in payment to the alien of a fee for services rendered? Gray areas on this point can become a problem for some business visitors in the B-1 category.
5. Family Members
Unlike most other nonimmigrant categories, no derivative status is provided to family members of principal B nonimmigrants. As a result, family members must independently qualify for B status. For example, a spouse of a B-1 business visitor may be able to qualify for B-2 status if accompanying or following to join the B-1 spouse. The B-2 category has been utilized for family members of nonimmigrants in other categories who do not themselves qualify for derivative status provided all standards for B-2 classification are satisfied.
6. Visa Waiver Program
Nationals (i.e., citizens) of 27 countries do not need to obtain B visas for business or tourist visits to the United States of 90 days or less, provided certain conditions are met. The countries are Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brunei, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom (note that, under a different rule), visas are not required for Canadian citizens, some Canadian permanent residents. The advantages of avoiding the visa-issuance process are many, including savings in time and the convenience of travelling on short notice. The limitations placed on persons who participate in the visa waiver program (VWP) should be carefully noted, however, because some of the limitations may make its use inappropriate for a particular national.