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What's the difference between a B-1 and B-2 visitor visa?

According to the United States Department of State (DOS), most foreign nationals seeking to visit the U.S. for some type of temporary business purpose or as a tourist for pleasure have to first acquire a visa to do so.

The B-1 visitor visa entitles non-immigrants to come here and engage in certain business activities including settling an estate, consulting with a business associate or negotiating a conflict. The B-1 business visa can also be requested by professionals who want to attend educational, business, scientific, or professional workshops or conferences as part of their vacation plans.

By contrast, the B-2 type of visitor visa is intended to be used solely by those coming here for pleasure as tourists on vacation. The DOS notes that it's acceptable for individuals to apply for this visa when they have intentions of visiting either family or friends in the U.S. Those coming here temporarily to have a medical procedure performed can apply for this visa also.

Individuals who intend to visit the country temporarily to attend an event put on by a social organization such as a service or fraternal one can also apply for the B-2 visa. So too can amateur athletes or musicians participating in non-compensated contests or events. Any individual auditing a class or workshop can apply for the B-2 visa to come here as well.

Neither the B-1 nor B-2 visitor visas can be applied for and used by individuals seeking to take part in credit-earning academic studies or looking for work with regular pay. These visas also cannot be used by artists who later perform or offer their works for pay. No one working for a media organization can apply for this visa, nor can anyone who intends to arrive here as a worker on a ship or aircraft.

These two visas are intended exclusively for non-immigrants and are not ideal for those intending to remain in the country on a more permanent basis.

If you're hoping to gain a better understanding of what type of visa may be most ideal for your situation, then a Norcross US immigration law attorney can provide guidance.

Source: U.S. Department of State, "Visitor Visa," accessed Feb. 16, 2018

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