A visitor's visa is available to individuals who seek to enter the US for no more than an initial 6 months. The visitor's visa allows a person to request admission to the United States, and although admittance is generally given for 6 months, a visitor's stay can be limited to any period of time that the US Customs and Border Protection deems reasonable.
Generally, a person seeking to enter the US for business or personal reasons is eligible for a B-1/B-2 visa if:
- he/she has no intention of staying in the United States beyond the alloted period of time
- he/she can show that they have adequate finances to fulfill the purposes of their visit
- he/she is not entering the US to work
- he/she evidences permanent ties to their homeland or country of last residence (INA Section 221(g); INA Section 214(b))
There are limited scenarios for visitors entering for business purposes. Examples include:
- entering the US to participate in professional conferences, religious conferences, trade shows, etc
- entering the US to participate in academic conferences or scholarly symposia
- entering the US to carry out commercial transactions, however not involving any productive or "gainful employment"
- entering the US to participate in professional athletic competitions
- entering the US to set up new companies or other business organizations (22 CFR Section 41.31)
Visitors or tourists can declare many different reasons for wanting to enter the United States and are subject to examination as to whether their intent to visit is truly temporary. Visitors are not allowed to work or to study in the US.
Individuals present in the United States as a B-1 or B-2 are eligible for change of status to another nonimmigrant status such as L-1, H-1, TN, E-3, O-1, P-1 or R-1.