Visitor VisasVisitor visas have a B1/B2 designation. The B1 designation refers to a business visitor.

The reason an individual would seek a B1 visa would be to enter the United States for purposes of training, conferences, and meetings.

The B1 visa requires that the individual who is here in the United States on business must continue to be paid by an overseas company. The individual cannot undertake any meaningful employment in the United States even if they continue to be paid by their overseas employer.

The B2 component of the B visa is a visitor for pleasure. That is your typical vacation. Individuals coming for vacation must obtain a B2 visa. B2 visa requires that there be no abandonment of foreign residence. It will not be wise to say: “I just sold my house in Mexico to finance my trip to Disney world.” This would indicate at least two things. They may not be able to support themselves in the United States. Retention of foreign residency is required in a number of visa categories, not just visitor visas.

The consulate officers will ask to see evidence that an individual who seeks a visa is not going to abandon his or her residence.

Documentation Desired for Visitor Visas

  • Deeds from homes or leases that extend beyond the visitation period.
  • Bank account statement showing that they are living substantial assets behind.
  • Letters from employers indicating that the individual is on their annual vacation and is expected back to work on a specific date and their job will be held open for them during the duration of stay.
  • Automobile titles.
  • Birth certificates of family members who are staying behind.
  • Information about family staying at the country of origin.
  • Return ticket.
  • Cash and credit available to spend in the United States.

Visitor visas (business visitor and tourist) are non-immigrant visas. In other words, the traveler must show that they will not stay, work, and live in the United States. Their intent is clear. They will return to their country and will not violate any United States law. Visitors are subject to all the conditions of admissibility as any other entering person who is not a United States citizen.

A tourist visa is not a guarantee of entry to the United States. Rather, the visa only allows the holder to come to a port of entry and ask for admission. The customs officer holds the power to decline admission or allow the visitor in. It is the same officer who decides the length of stay.

It is important to note that the United States has a very strong tourist industry; thus, the United States consulates and embassies abroad must balance the United States security interest and, at the same time, ensure there is a healthy flow of tourism.

Visitor visas are immediately available upon approval, and therefore they are not subject to the visa bulletin waiting requirements.

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    Hector E. Quiroga
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