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What Is B1 and B2 Visa For USA?

What are the differences between them? And how are both different from ESTA?
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Business and tourism travelers to the US have traditionally had two options when it comes to their visa: B1 and B2. Today, there’s also a third option for many travelers, called ESTA. But what are the features of B1/B2? What are the differences between them? And how are both different from ESTA?

In this article, we will cover:

  1. What are B1/B2 visas? And who needs them?
  2. What are the parameters of a B1/B2 visa?
  3. What are the differences between B1 and B2?
  4. Which types of travel are not permitted on a B1/B2 visa?
  5. How can travelers obtain a B1/B2 visa?
  6. Commonly asked questions about B1/B2 visas
  7. Who doesn’t need a B1/B2 visa?
  8. What is the difference between B1/B2 and ESTA? Which is better for your travel needs?

1. What are B1 and B2 visas? And who needs them?

The B1 and B2 visas are commonly known as “visitor visas,” and are used for business and tourism, respectively. B1/B2 can also be thought of as “traditional Embassy visas” – a.k.a. “sticker visas” or “stamp visas.” That means that in order to apply for B1/B2, the applicant must undergo the full, traditional visa application process, including in-person interviews and document submissions at a US Embassy or Consulate. Not all travelers need B1/B2; see Section 7, below, for information about visa alternatives.

2. What are the parameters of a B1/B2 visa?

The validity and stay length of B1/B2 visas vary, depending both on the country where the visa is issued and the discretion of US travel authorities. B1/B2 visas can remain valid for 1 month to 10 years. Stay lengths can extend to up to 6 months at maximum. Similarly, the number of exits/entries may vary; travelers granted B1/B2 visas will typically be allowed 1, 2, 3, or multiple entries, depending on the circumstances.

3. What are the differences between B1 and B2?

The difference between the B1 and B2 visas is the purpose of travel: B1 visas are granted to business travelers, and B2 visas are granted to tourists. It is also possible to obtain a combination visa for both purposes, called B1/B2.

Please note that many travelers today are able to visit the United States without going through the process of applying for a B1/B2 visa. For more information, please see Section 7 below, “Who doesn’t need a B1/B2 visa?”

4. What types of travel are not permitted on a B1/B2 visa?

Activities not permitted using a B1/B2 visa include:

  • Employment for a US company or other organization
  • Education
  • Permanent residence
  • Having a baby (“birth tourism”)

5. How can travelers obtain a B1/B2 visa?

Travelers wishing to obtain a B1/B2 visa must undertake the traditional application process for an Embassy visa. This includes traveling to the nearest Embassy for interviews and the submission of paperwork. Generally, travelers must prove that:

  1. They intend to stay in the US for a limited time
  2. They will return to their home country after their visit
  3. Their plans in the US involve tourism, business, or both, and do not include the activities mentioned in Section 4, above

6. Commonly asked questions about B1/B2 visas

Do I need a letter of invitation to get a B1/B2 visa?

A letter of invitation is not necessary, and cannot guarantee visa approval even if provided.

How long can I stay in the US on a B1/B2 visa?

Visa validity times and stay lengths vary by country. See Section 2 above, “What are the parameters of a B1/B2 visa?”

7. Who doesn’t need a B1/B2 visa?

These days, many visitors traveling to the US for business or tourism don’t need a B1/B2 visa. Tourists and business travelers whose countries of citizenship participation in the US Visa Waiver Program, and who plan to stay in the US for 90 days or less, may be eligible for the US Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA). ESTA travelers may bypass the Embassy visa process altogether, having received a pre-approved, US-government-issued electronic visa in a streamlined internet application process.

You may be eligible for ESTA if:

  • You plan to travel to the US for purposes of tourism or business
  • Your stay in the US will not exceed 90 total days
  • You carry a valid passport from one of the following countries:
AndorraHungaryNorway
AustraliaIcelandPoland
AustriaIrelandPortugal
BelgiumItalySan Marino
BruneiJapanSingapore
ChileLatviaSlovakia
Czech RepublicLiechtensteinSlovenia
DenmarkLithuaniaSouth Korea
EstoniaLuxembourgSpain
FinlandMaltaSweden
FranceMonacoSwitzerland
GermanyNetherlandsTaiwan
GreeceNew Zealand United Kingdom

8. What is the difference between B1/B2 and ESTA? Which is better for your travel needs?

The biggest difference between ESTA and a B1/B2 visa is the application process. Applying for B1/B2, with its trips to the Embassy and longer waiting period, is more costly and time-consuming than applying for ESTA, which can be accomplished from home. While travelers typically enjoy longer validity times and stay lengths on B1/B2 than on ESTA, those times do vary, and may not be necessary for travelers taking short trips for business or pleasure. Generally, tourists and business travelers from eligible countries whose travel in the US will not exceed 90 days are better served by ESTA than by B1/B2.

Looking to obtain ESTA for your upcoming trip? Evisa Express can help you. Our streamlined application process can be completed anywhere with an internet connection. Once the application is started, our team of electronic visa experts is on hand 24/7 to field questions and concerns. Application approval times are typically 72 hours or less. Evisa Express: You take care of your trip; we take care of your visa.

 
What Is B1 B2 Visa For Usa
What Is B1 B2 Visa For Usa