What Is a B1, B2, or B1/B2 Visa?

What Is a B1, B2, or B1/B2 Visa?

People from all over the world travel to the United States for many reasons. The country offers a wide range of activities and opportunities: from theme parks and natural reserves, to modern, lively cities. However, depending on your nationality, there are certain requirements that must be met before traveling to the U.S. Several countries must apply for an American visitor visa.

Visas B1 and B2 are temporary nonimmigrant visas to travel to the United States. The visa B1 is for business and the visa B2 is for pleasure or medical treatment.

  • Business Visitor Visa (B1): you should apply for this visa if the purpose of your trip is to attend a business convention, a seminar, or if you are traveling to negotiate contracts, and meet with business associates. You can also apply for this visa if you’d like to buy or sell an estate. You must apply for this visa if you are accompanying your employer to the United States.
  • Tourism, Pleasure and Medical Treatment - Visitor Visa (B2): if the purpose of your trip is to visit friends or family, engage in tourism activities, medical treatment, or to participate as an amateur in a sports or musical event, then you should apply for the visitor visa B2.

Please consider that the U.S. Department of State and the Department of Homeland Security follow a strict process and are very selective when granting foreigners a visitor visa. When you apply for a visitor visa to the U.S., it is strongly advised to select the correct category. You should use the appropriate form. Some people have a combined B1/B2 visitor visa, if they need to travel for business and leisure purposes.

How do I know which American visa I have?

The B category visas were designed for those who travel for general business and tourism or leisure to the U.S. The visa class, or your category, is located in the upper right-hand portion of your visa.

On your American visitor visa you will find the following details:

  • Your full name
  • Your nationality
  • Your date of birth
  • The country where your visa was issued.
  • Expiration date: the last day you can use the visa to seek entry in the United States.
  • Annotation: it might include additional information about your visa, for example on a student visa the annotation will indicate a SEVIS number and the name of the university or college.
  • “M”: this letter means that you can seek entry into the U.S. on multiple occasions. If instead of an M, you see a number, the number indicates how many times you can enter the United States.
  • On the upper right corner you will find your visa type. B1 and B2 visas are regular visas, and you will see an “R” next to the B1 or B2.

In November 2016, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security launched the Electronic Visa Update System also referred to as EVUS. This is an automated online visa system that determines eligibility to travel to the United States of 10-year B1 and B2 visa holders.

EVUS is an obligatory migratory requirement for people with a 10-year B1 or B2 American visa who wish to travel to the United States. Travelers with a visitor visa should enroll 72 hours before departure. When completing the EVUS application form, the traveler provides the system with his or her visa details.

Currently, EVUS is only compulsory for Chinese nationals with a 10-year B1 or B2 visitor visa. However, it is predicted that many countries that require B-category visas to travel to the United States will soon be asked to enroll with EVUS.

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