B-1 and B-2 Visas in Austin
Anyone who wants to come to the United States for tourism or business needs a valid visitor visa – and in some cases, a B-1 or B-2 visa is the right choice. But who qualifies for a B-1 or B-2 visa, how do you get one, and how much does it cost? This guide explains.
B-1 and B-2 Visas
Both B-1 and B-2 visas are nonimmigrant visas that enable you to come to the United States for a short period of time. However, each visa is different – and what you’re allowed to do while you’re in the United States depends on the type of visa you have.
B-1 Visa Overview
B-1 visas are intended for people who need to conduct business in the United States. You need this type of visa if you’re coming to the U.S. to:
- Consult with your business associates
- Attend a convention or conference related to science, education, your profession or your business
- Settle an estate
- Negotiate contracts
Who’s Eligible for a B-1 Visa?
Only people who can demonstrate that they’re coming to the United States to conduct business are eligible for B-1 visas. If you’re eligible to apply for one of these temporary, nonimmigrant visas, you must also demonstrate to USCIS that you only intend to remain for a very specific (and very limited) period of time, that you have enough money to cover your own expenses for your stay in the U.S., and that you have a residence outside the U.S. that you don’t intend to abandon. You also have to be otherwise admissible to the United States.
How Long Can You Stay in the United States on a B-1 Visa?
You’re allowed an initial period of stay of up to six months on a B-1 visa. However, you may be able to extend your stay by an additional six months. Usually, the maximum total amount of time anyone is allowed to remain in B-1 status is one year.
Can Your Family Come to the U.S. With You When You’re on a B-1 Visa?
Your family members aren’t eligible to come with you when you have a B-1 visa. However, they may accompany you by applying separately for B-2 visas.
B-2 Visa Overview
B-2 visas are for people who want to come to the United States for a short period of time as tourists or vacationers, or to:
- Receive medical treatment
- Participate in a social event hosted by a service organization or a fraternal or social organization
- Participate as an unpaid amateur in an event revolving around music, sports or something similar
- Enroll in a short recreational course (like a cooking class) that doesn’t earn credit toward a degree
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How to Apply for a B-1 or B-2 Visa
Many people choose to work with an attorney to apply for a B-1 visa and to apply for B-2 visas for their family members. Because a visa enables you to enter the United States lawfully, you’ll need one if you intend to work or visit.
Your attorney will complete a nonimmigrant visa application for you, as well as print it out so you have the copies you need for the rest of the application process.
What Documents Are Required for a U.S. B-1 Visa?
When you apply for a B-1 or B-2 visa, you’ll have to show the consular officer who interviews you that you’re eligible for the visa – and that you intend to stay in the United States only for a short period of time. Documents that prove your trip is only a temporary visit, as well as evidence that you have the money to cover your own expenses during your trip, are required. You’ll also have to show that you have a permanent residence outside the United States that you have no intention of abandoning, so evidence of binding social or economic ties you have in your home country is also required.
In order to apply, you need a passport valid for travel to the U.S., and it must have a validity date for at least six months beyond your intended period of stay here.
You’ll also want to provide original copies (though bring photocopies) of:
- Proof of your income, tax payments, properties you own, or assets
- Your travel itinerary for your trip
- A letter from your employer that explains your position, salary, how long you’ve worked for the company, whether you’ve taken any authorized vacations, and the business purpose of your trip
- Any criminal or court records you have, even if they’re only for arrests, and even if you completed your sentence or were pardoned by your government
- Documents that show your previous visits to the United States, as well as any documents that show your immigration status or visa status
If you’re seeking medical care in the United States, you’ll also want to bring:
- A medical diagnosis from your physician that details your ailment and the reason you need medical treatment in the United States
- A letter from a U.S. physician or medical facility that expresses a willingness to treat you, and that includes a projected length of the treatment as well as the cost of the treatment
- A statement of financial responsibility for any organization that’s paying for your transportation, living expenses and medical expenses
Do You Need to Attend an Interview for a B-1 or B-2 Visa?
Most visa applicants have to attend an interview with a consular official. However, applicants under the age of 13, as well as those age 80 and older, are usually not required to participate in an interview. Most people age 14 through 79 are required to go through an interview.
You’ll schedule your interview at the U.S. Embassy or U.S. Consulate nearest to your home (within your home country). Every embassy and consulate has its own wait times for appointments.
How Much Does a B-1 or B-2 Visa Cost?
Though these fees are subject to change, it currently costs $160 to apply for a B-1 visa and $160 to apply for a B-2 visa. The fee is the same regardless of your intended length of stay. You can get the most current fee information from your immigration attorney or by visiting the U.S. State Department’s website here.
Why Should You Work With an Immigration Attorney to Get a B-1 or B-2 Visa?
Many people choose to work with an immigration attorney to get a B-1 or B-2 visa because the paperwork involved can be time-consuming and complex. Your attorney will need documentation from you to complete your visa application, including bank statements and other information – but you won’t have to fill out or file the forms. Your attorney will do all that for you.
Do You Need to Talk to an Austin Immigration Attorney About a B-1 or B-2 Visa?
If you’re interested in getting a B-1 visa and B-2 visas for your family members, we may be able to help you. Call our office to schedule your free consultation right now. We can answer your questions and get you pointed in the right direction.