International CalendarStaff DirectoryLocations & MapTimezonesContact Us

B Visa & Visa Waiver Program (VWP)

B Visa Information

B Visas

The B-visa category is used for persons who wish to enter the United States to engage in temporary tourism, business or professional activities related to their employment or business abroad. The main intent for this visa type is that it’s for business purposes B-visa visitors are not permitted to engage in employment of any kind while in the US. However, they are permitted to receive honoraria, speaker’s fees, travel reimbursements and other incidental payments for legitimate academic activities per INA §212 (q). B-visas are designated B-1 (business) or B-2 (tourism) and persons can remain in the US for up to 6 months.

Visa Waivers (WB or WT Status)

If a visitor is from one of the countries that participate in the Visa Waiver Program, then a B-1 or B-2 visa is not needed to enter the US. Instead, the visitor may enter in “visa waiver” status. Persons in visa waiver status cannot remain in the US for more than 90 days. A WB (Waiver Business) is used when the visit primarily has a business purpose. A WT (Waiver Tourist) is used for tourism purposes.

As with the B-visa, the WB and WT visitor cannot engage in employment of any kind while in the US. However, they are permitted to receive honoraria, speaker's fees, travel reimbursements and other incidental payments for legitimate academic activities, per INA §212 (q).

Persons intending to travel to the US under the Visa Waiver program must now receive authorization to use the program before they enter the US.  Visa Waiver travelers must first register with the new DHS Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA).  ESTA Registration is done electronically at the ESTA website.

Countries that Participate in the Visa Waiver Program 

Andorra

Hungary

New Zealand

Australia

Iceland

Norway

Austria

Ireland

Portugal

Belgium

Italy

San Marino

Brunei

Japan

Singapore

Czech Republic

Latvia

Slovakia

Denmark

Liechtenstein

Slovenia

Estonia

Lithuania

South Korea

Finland

Luxembourg

Spain

France

Malta

Sweden

Germany

Monaco

Switzerland

Greece

Netherlands

United Kingdom

 

Canadian Visitors & Permanent Residents of Canada 

Citizens of Canada traveling to the US for temporary business or pleasure/vacation do not require a visa. They enter the US in a status similar to WB/WT status. Permanent residents (aka landed immigrants) of Canada must have a nonimmigrant visa unless the permanent resident is a national of a country that participates in the Visa Waiver Program.

Mexican Visitors & Permanent Residents of Mexico

Citizens and permanent residents of Mexico, traveling to the US for business or pleasure/vacation, generally must have a nonimmigrant visa or Border Crossing Card (also known as a "Laser Visa"). The Border Crossing Card (BCC), Form DSP-150 is a biometric, machine readable card that is a combined visitor B1 & B2 Visa/BCC. 

Citizens of Bermuda

Citizens of the British Overseas Territories of Bermuda traveling to the US for temporary business or pleasure/vacation reasons, lasting no more than180 days, do not require a visa.

Reimbursements for B-1, B-2, WB & WT Visitors

Visitors in B-1, B-2, WB or WT status are allowed to receive reimbursements for travel and incidental expenses or per diems related to their academic or business activity. Note that the total amount of such payments cannot exceed what is “reasonable” as a business expense.

Honoraria for B-1, B-2, WB & WT Visitors

B-1, B-2, WT or WB visitors receiving honoraria may only be engaged in the academic activity for nine or fewer business days. In addition, the visitor may not have received honorarium payments from more than five academic institutions in the previous six months. This requirement is generally known as the “9-6-5 rule.”

For more information on payments, please refer to Payments to Visitors.

B Visa Uses

Business Travel to the United States – What Type of U.S. Visa Will You Need?
If you are planning business-related travel to the United States on a temporary basis, it’s important to have information about the type of nonimmigrant visa you will need for travel. The purpose of your intended travel and other facts regarding your plans will determine what type of visa is required under immigration law. This web document is a resource that will help you learn about the visa process in general, so that you will better understand the different steps involved.

Business Visitor Visa (B-1) - For business-specific purposes
The chart below is an overview of key groupings of temporary business related travel permitted on business visitor visas (Note: This is not comprehensive. For other travel permitted under a business visitor visa (B-1), reference 9 FAM 41.31)
 

Purpose of Your Travel About Your Temporary Visit
Athlete, professional

Receives no salary or income from a U.S.-based company/entity, other than prize money for participation in a tournament or sporting event. Try-outs for a professional team, but cannot remain in US playing on US team.

Athletes or team members who seek to enter the United States as members of a foreign based team in order to compete with another sports team shall be admitted provided:

  1. The foreign athlete and the foreign sports team have their principal place of business or activity in a foreign country;
  2. The income of the foreign based team and the salary of its players are principally accrued in a foreign country; and
  3. The foreign-based sports team is a member of an international sports league or the sporting activities involved have an international dimension.
Business venture, investor seeking investment Survey potential sites for a business and/or to lease premises in US. Cannot remain in US to manage business.
Conference, meeting, trade show or business event attendee Will receive no salary or income from a U.S based company/entity. For scientific, educational, professional or business purposes.
Exposition or trade show employees of foreign exhibitors at international fairs (excludes government representatives) Will receive no salary or income from a U.S based company/entity. Will plan, assemble, dismantle, maintain, or be employed in connection with exhibits at international fairs or expositions.
Lecturer or speaker No salary or income from a U.S. based company/entity, other than expenses incidental to the visit. If honorarium will be received, activities can last no longer than nine days at any single institution or organization; payment must be offered by an institution or organization described in INA 212(q); honorarium is for services conducted for the benefit of the institution or entity; and visa applicant will not have accepted such payment or expenses from more than five institutions or organizations over the last six months.
Researcher Independent research, no salary/income from a US based source, or benefit to US institution.
Sales/selling Exhibition/taking orders/negotiating and signing contracts for products, which must be produced outside the U.S.
Service engineer (Commercial, Industrial) Engineer(s) install, service or repair commercial or industrial equipment or machinery sold by a non-US company to a U.S. buyer, when specifically required by the purchase contract.
Installation cannot include construction work, except for supervision or training of US workers to perform construction.
Training Participating in a training program that is not designed primarily to provide employment. Will receive no payment or income from a U.S. based company/entity, other than an expense allowance or expense reimbursement related to traveler’s stay.

Next Steps - What You Must Do - If your purpose of planned travel and facts about your visit fits within the description above, the next step is to schedule a visa interview appointment and apply for a visa at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad, generally in your country of residence.

How to Apply for a Visa

  • Learn more about how to apply for a business visitor visa (B-1).
  • Check on visa wait times for an interview appointment.
  • Locate an embassy worldwide - Find out how to pay the visa application fee, make an interview appointment, and learn much more.

Important Note: When applying for a visa, you’ll need to meet all requirements for the visa for which you are applying. The consular officer at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you will apply for your visa will determine eligibility for a visa, including type of visa required, based on your application, interview, individual facts presented and on U.S. immigration law.

Business Visa Center (for U.S. Companies) - The Department of State Business Visa Center assists businesses located in the United States by providing information about the application process for business visitor visa (B-1) travel to the U.S.

Embassy Business Facilitation (for Companies abroad) - If you or your company are located overseas, U.S. Embassies and Consulates worldwide have programs to assist businesses. The U.S. Embassy or Consulate where the visa applicant will be applying is in the best position to provide information about any program they may have to assist businesses in their location. For more information, select Locate a U.S. Embassy.

Seeking Employment or Work in the U.S.?
If your purpose of planned travel and facts about your visit does not fit within the description above, you’ll probably need another type of visa. If you are seeking to come to the United States on a temporary basis to work, be employed, and/or be paid by a U.S.-based company as a skilled or unskilled worker, you will need a temporary worker type of visa. In these situations, the prospective employer must file with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) on behalf of the foreign prospective employee, a nonimmigrant visa petition accompanied by an approved labor certification.

Purpose of  Your Travel About Your Temporary Visit Type of Visa Key Steps - What You Must Do
Employment/work Payment, income, salary will be paid to you by U.S. based company or business entity. Temporary Worker Visa
(H,L,O, P, Q visas and more).
U.S. employer files petition with USCIS. After petition approval, visa application at US Embassy.
Internship Practical training through an internship with a U.S. based employer, whether paid or unpaid by that company. Temporary Worker trainee
(H-3) or Exchange Visitor (J) visa.
H- U.S. employer files petition with USCIS.
J – Applicant approval by J sponsor.
After approval, visa application at US Embassy.
Researcher Independent research, will receive U.S. payment, or benefit to US institution. Temporary Worker
(H-1B) Visa or Exchange Visitor (J) Visa.
H- U.S. employer files petition with USCIS along with an approved labor certification.
J – Applicant approval by J sponsor.
After approval, visa application at US Embassy.

To learn more about temporary workers in the United States, see the DHS, US Citizenship and Immigration Services USCIS Website and the Department of State, travel.state.gov website. See the Department of Labor information about hiring foreign workers and labor certification required with petitions for some types of temporary workers.

If you are seeking to come to the United States on a permanent basis to work, be employed, and/or be paid by a U.S.-based company as a skilled or unskilled worker, you will require an immigrant visa. To learn more, see the USCIS Website and the Department of State, travel.state.gov website.

This information was taken directly from http://travel.state.gov/pdf/BusinessVisa.pdf.

B Visa in Lieu of J-1 Visa

When Can A Visitor Visa Be Used Instead of an Exchange Visitor Visa?

In certain circumstances, some activities that are done on exchange visitor visas are also permitted on business (B-1) or tourist (B-2) visas. Short periods of study, or study which is recreational, and not vocational, and incidental to the trip, is permitted on a visitor visa. The determining factor is the traveler's primary purpose in coming to the U.S. Any kind of study that would earn credit or certification is not permitted on a visitor visa. As an example, if you are taking a vacation to the U.S., and during this vacation you would like to take a two-day cooking class for your enjoyment, and there is no credit earned, then this would be permitted on a visitor visa. A consular officer will determine the visa category you will need based on the purpose of your travel, and your supporting documentation.

This information was taken directly from the travel.state.gov website.

 

VWP Not for J-1's

Exchange Visitors Cannot Travel on the Visa Waiver Program

Citizens from a country participating in the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) who want to enter the U.S. temporarily as exchange visitors, must first obtain an exchange visitor visa. Exchange visitor program participants cannot travel on the VWP, nor can they travel on a visitor (B) visa. Those travelers coming on the VWP to participate in an exchange program may be denied admission to the U.S. by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), U.S. immigration inspector at the port of entry. For more information on VWP, see Visa Waiver Program.

This information was taken directly from the travel.state.gov website.