We receive regular contact from individuals wanting to visit the United States. Whether it’s visiting family, vacation sites, or attending important business meetings, individuals and foreign employees should be careful when applying for a visitor visa and when entering the United States.
Below is a list of the typical options for individuals who want to enter the U.S. as visitors, as well as companies who want their foreign employees to visit the U.S. for legitimate business reasons.
B-1 Business Visitor
This visa is for individuals who need to visit the United States temporarily for a business purpose and have no intention of abandoning their residence abroad. The B visa is generally used by individuals who are coming to the U.S. for the following reasons: 1) to attend business meetings or conferences; 2) to engage in contract negotiations or new business venture discussions; 3) to perform work pursuant to an existing service contract whereby the visiting foreign employee must be on U.S. soil to complete service to the product sold by the foreign company; and 4) occasionally for short-term training programs. It is not meant to be a work visa and should not be used that way by U.S. companies.
B-2 Visitor for Pleasure
This is a visitor visa for pleasure that is typically used for visiting friends, family or places in the U.S. However, it can also be used for other purposes, such as obtain U.S. medical treatment, short term visits by participants in amateur arts, entertainment, sports or similar events with no remuneration, and other reasons that does not involve gainful employment.
The Visa Waiver Program/ESTA permits nationals from designated countries to apply for admission to the United States for 90 days or less as non-immigrant visitors for business or pleasure without first obtaining a nonimmigrant visa. Please note there are various restrictions to getting an ESTA based on prior travel to certain countries, status violations and past criminal violations.