“B” visas allow foreign visitors to visit the United States for a short trip. The USCIS issues two types of B-visas. B-1 visa is for people visiting on business, and a B-2 visa is for tourists. B-visas are the most common type of visas that USCIS issues.
A B-visa only grants you the ability to be in the United States for a specified and short period of time. It does not give you the legal ability to work or to attend school here. (Other visas are for those purposes.
If you want or need a B-1 or B-2 visa – for yourself or for a relative – I can help. You can contact me, Boston immigration attorney Giselle M. Rodriguez, to discuss your case, or read on to find out more about the B-1 and B-2 visas.
Two quick notes:
1: We can meet in-person, on Zoom, or by phone.
2: My legal fees DO include the translations of relevant documents.
How long does a B-1 or B-2 visa take to process?
B-visas tend to be the fastest visas you can get, though there are some outlier cases: Many applicants will receive their B-visas within a few weeks, but some consulates may take up to 1-2 years to process them.
If you come from one of the 39 countries designated for the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) you don’t even need a B-visa. It that case you may enter the United States and remain for 90 days as long as you have a valid Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) approval prior to your visit, and if you meet all applicable requirements.
Even if you are from a Visa Waiver Program country you might still wish to apply for a B-visa, because you’ll have more time in the United States if you do.
How long can you stay in the US with a B1 or B2 visa?
Either type of B-visa gives you 6 months in the United State. These visas can sometimes be used for multiple short stays, and they are valid for up to 10 years from the date of issue, so you have a wide window in which to use the visa. Just the same, it only allows you a total of 6 months in the United States before the visa expires.
Can a B1 or B2 visa be changed to a work or school visa?
You may have planned every detail of your trip, but had a change of plans after you got here. Perhaps you visited the Boston area on vacation, checked out one of our many famous universities, and decided to apply. Or perhaps you struck up a conversation with a tech entrepreneur in a coffee shop and eventually got a job offer. Perhaps you just fell in love with the place or with a person here.
How would that affect your legal status in the US?
That is the time to speak with a qualified immigration attorney, one who can help you file a change of status. It is generally not expensive. In any case, you will need the help, because one of the requirements for adjustment of status is proving that you did not enter the United States under false pretenses. In other words, you could be in trouble if you misrepresented your reasons for visiting here.
For students, one way to avoid that is to state that you’re here to tour schools when you apply for your B-visa at the consulate. That is an acceptable reason to apply for a B-2 visa, and it is a common reason. As long as you disclose why you are coming to the United States your status should be OK, though it is better to have an attorney involved from the start.
In the example of the sudden job offer, you will definitely need an attorney. In theory you can file an adjustment of status without an attorney. But steps require both you and your employer, and those may be confusing or difficult. An attorney will save you time and trouble (and possibly your legal status).
If you came with the intention of interviewing for jobs, you will need a B-1 visa. Again, you will need to declare that at the consulate. Job interviews aren’t forbidden on a B-1 visa, but USCIS needs to be informed that that is what you plan to do here.
Does a B1 or B2 visa provide a path to a green card?
Not directly. If you meet your future spouse here, that person may be able to petition for an adjustment of status. I-130 petitions are extremely complex. In that case, of course, the first thing you’ll want to do is contact a qualified immigration attorney.