B-1/B-2 Visitors

What is the Purpose of the B Visa Category?

The B nonimmigrant category covers visitors for business (B-1), visitors for pleasure (B-2), and people coming to the United States to seek medical treatment. Most people entering the United States arrive in this category. Stays in the United States in this category are meant to be brief. Typical reasons for using the B category is to tour the United States, visiting family and friends, obtaining health care, or conducting business on behalf of an overseas employer. The trips are temporary and not for employment or study.

Application Process

The B visa category requires an application to be filed with a U.S. Consulate. Visas are typically granted for up to 10 years and for an unlimited number of entries. More commonly, people entering on a visitor’s visa are given permission to stay in the United States for 90 days at a time.

To Qualify for a B Visa You Must Show:

  • You intend to enter the United States for a limited amount of time.
  • You intend to depart the United States at the expiration of your stay. You can do this by showing evidence that you have strong ties to your home country. Evidence includes home ownership, a letter written by your employer stating when they expect you back, letter from school showing when you are expected to return, and letters from people who know you, among other things.
  • You must show you have the financial means to travel to the United States for your intended purpose. Evidence of your round-trip ticket as well as financial arrangements that have been made for you should be presented at the U.S. Consulate.
  • If you cannot demonstrate evidence of financial solvency, you may be able to present a letter of invitation from a U.S. Citizen host. The U.S. Citizen host may provide evidence of his/her financial ability and submit form I-134 on your behalf to “sponsor” you to come to the United States.
Extending Your B Visa Status

Once you are admitted to the United States as a B-1 or B-1 visa holder, you may be able to apply for an extension of your stay. You may do so by filing a petition with USCIS, along with appropriate fees and evidence of the need for the extension. You should also submit a detailed explanation of what you plan to do if the extension is granted and when you plan to return to your home country.

To be eligible to extend your B visa stay, you must apply before your current status expires. In rare circumstances, you may be able to apply after your current status expires if you can provide strong reasons for the delay. Late applications are discretionary and it is not advisable to apply for an extension after your permission to stay in the United States has expired.

Changing Your B Visa Status to F-1, M-1, or Family-Based Change of Status While on B Visa Status

It is possible to change from from a B visa to an F-1 or M-1 Category. However, it is difficult to do this unless strict requirements are met. You must have a legitimate reason for the change of status. Filing for a change of status can raise questions about your original intention when you applied for your B visa. The change of status can be denied on the basis of preconceived intent. The application procedure will vary on the nonimmigrant category to which you seek to change to.

The most common question we get is regarding changing status from B status to F-1 or M-1 status.

You may be eligible for this change in status if:

  • You have not yet enrolled in classes. If you enroll in classes before your new status is approved, you will be ineligible to change your status from B to F or M. An extension of your B status will also be denied if you have enrolled in school in the United States.
  • Your current status has not expired.
  • You have not engaged in unauthorized employment.

The application process requires the filing of a petition along with a well organized evidence portfolio showing how you meet all the requirements.

If you are not eligible to change your status, you may apply for a visa at a consular post abroad. However, if you have overstayed your B visa, there may be penalties that attach when you leave the United States that can bar you from coming back with any visa.

If you entered the United States on a B visa you may be able to adjust your status to a Permanent Resident, or Green Card Holder, if you have a qualifying family relationship that makes that status immediately available to you.

Visa Waiver

Nationals of the following 36 countries do not need to obtain B visas for business or tourist visits to the United States. The countries currently in the Visa Waiver Program are:

AndorraHungaryNew Zealand
BelgiumItalySan Marino
Czech RepublicLatviaSlovakia
EstoniaLithuaniaSouth Korea
Greecethe NetherlandsUnited Kingdom
How Can an Immigration Attorney Help?

The B visa extension, change to other nonimmigrant category, or adjustment of status process can be more complicated than simply filling out an application and waiting for results. There are a number of procedural and material requirements for obtaining these immigration benefits, and navigating through the process can be very daunting and time-consuming. For this reason, it is advisable to obtain the advice and assistance of a qualified immigration law attorney to handle the matter.

Austin, Texas immigration attorney Daniella Lyttle of the Lyttle Law Firm has experience assisting individuals in all B visa issues, including extension of B visas, change from B visa to other nonimmigrant category, and adjustment of status cases. Ms. Lyttle is fluent in Spanish, Portuguese, and Italian, and can communicate directly with clients and their family members directly in these languages, as well as understand documents in these languages.

Furthermore, because immigration law is a federal, and not state, matter, the Lyttle Law Firm can assist you even if you are not a resident of Texas. If you need a competent immigration attorney to handle your B visa matter, contact the Lyttle Law Firm, and you will be able to speak to a qualified immigration attorney to get the advice and assistance you need. An Austin immigration lawyer experienced in all aspects of B visa petitions can make the process more manageable, as well as provide relevant context pertaining to how the application is proceeding and what you can reasonably expect in terms of both time frame and success in obtaining the desired immigration benefit.

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