Any foreign citizen who desires to enter the United States of America has to get a business visa for USA. Holistically, there are two major types, immigrant visa for a permanent stay and non-immigrant visa for a temporary visit. The type of the visa that you require depends entirely upon the purpose of your visit. People wishing to travel to USA for visiting will have to apply for a non-immigrant visitor visa.
USA Visitor Visa Categories
There are majorly two types of visitors visas issued:
- Temporary Business Visitor Visa category B1
This type of Visa is issued if the intended visit is for business related purposes, such as:
- Dealing or negotiating business contracts and settlements of estates
- Participating in a convention or a conference having a scientific, educational, professional or business nature
- Attending a short duration training
- Discussion and consultation with business associates
Personal and Domestic Employees: The immigration law permits the employees to travel to the United States of America as business visitors if they are travelling along:
- An employer having a US nationality but resides permanently in another foreign country traveling to USA for a short visit
- An employer of foreign nationality having a nonimmigrant visa status of Q, P, O, M, L, J, I, H, F, E, B.
Period of Stay and Extension: The period of stay should not be longer than six months. Under certain circumstances, you can file for an extension of the stay. The extension will be up to an additional six months. Generally the total time that you can spend on B1 visa on a single trip is a maximum of 1 year. In case, you have to prolong the stay (without making an exit from the country) longer than the time mentioned on the Form I-94, you will have to submit another form called I-539 for an extension of visit. For more information in the extension of your stay, visit https://www.uscis.gov/visit-united-states/extend-your-stay
Eligibility Criteria: In order to get the business visa for USA (B1 visa), you have to provide sufficient proof for the following:
- You have a dwelling outside the United States and you have no desire of abandoning it and solid ties that will not ascertain that you will return back to your country of residence/abroad after the visit
- You can finance your visit and the entire trip quite well
- You will only stay there for a specific time frame
- You only wish to enter USA for a business trip that is completely legitimate
- You must remain honest to get the business visa for USA
Family Members: The family members of the holders of B1 Visa are not qualified to acquire a dependant visa. If your family (spouse, children, or other dependants) desire to accompany you to the United States, then they must separately file an application for B2 Visa.
- Temporary Tourism and Pleasure Visit category B2
This type of visa is issued for a planned recreational trip to USA. This visa is issued for following purposes:
- Spending vacations or holidays
- Treatment of medical problems
- Tourism and sightseeing
- Visiting family members, relatives and friends
- Participating in social events or fraternal gatherings, or charity and service organizations
You may even enroll in short courses for recreational which does not yield a degree like a joining a cooking, music swimming or sewing class lasting only a few days.
Sometimes, the B1/B2 visa is issued jointly and allows you to stay for either purpose for the valid duration of the visa and you do not have to get the business visa for USA again separately. If this is the case then you are allowed to enter the USA for either tourism or business related purposes until and unless there are special annotations on the visa.
Getting Business Visa for USA
If you wish to enter the United States for a business trip, then it is mandatory for you to submit a formal application to get business visa for USA. However, nationals of certain countries do not necessarily have to apply for a nonimmigrant visa if they are participating in the Visa Waiver Program which is described below. For detailed information on the application process for Business Visa for the United States, you may visit the following website https://travel.state.gov//content/travel/en.html.
Online Visa Application Process
In order to get business visa for USA, Form DS-160, an online nonimmigrant visa application form has to be filled on the state department website. Before you get down to fill the form, you must have the following:
- A digital photograph in an accurate format (If the format is not proper then some consulates allow you to bring a printed photograph at the time of the interview). A few Consulates or embassies do not require you to upload a digital picture when filling the online application form. In these situations, the photograph is taken at an offsite premises or application service centers. You may also have to provide your fingerprints.
- The name on the form should match the exact name on the passport.
- All the other details such as date of birth, date of issuance and expiration of the passport, passport number must be supplied.
- The applicants have to furnish required information about the family such as the name of their parents, their occupation, mailing and work addresses and the income as well.
- A valid address where the applicant will be staying in the US has to be provided.
- Names of other relatives in the US if there are any.
- The date of the most recent trip to the US must also be supplied.
Filling the application form will take less than an hour. Most of the fields in the form are mandatory. You may leave the optional field blank. Some fields will also give the option of “Does Not Apply”. You may select this option. If you truly wish to get the business visa for USA, then the form must be filled truthfully. The information must be entered into appropriate space. The questions are mostly self explanatory and additional information is also provided for your reference. The website allows you to save the form so that you may continue filling it later at your own pace. An application ID is provided at the start of the process and you may provide it later on for resuming the application. You can save the application permanently on your PC or laptop. If the application form remains idle for twenty minutes then the session will expire automatically and all the unsaved information will be lost. Most of the special characters are not recognized by the system. It is advisable that the application form is thoroughly reviewed before the final submission. As it will play a key role in the interview process and any incorrect information might not make you get the business visa for USA. The confirmation page after the submission has to be printed out and brought at the time of the interview.
Changing to B1 Status from another Nonimmigrant Visa:
If you are already in the United States, having a valid nonimmigrant visa, then you may change the current status to the status of a business visa for USA by filing Form I-539.
You are required to upload a digital photograph as part of the online application process. The background of the image must be plain. The subject must face the camera directly and the head must be at the center of the frame. The facial region must take up 50-69 % of the total space and the eyes should be at a height of 56 – 69% of the height of the photograph.
The digital photograph must meet the following requirements:
- The picture must be square
- The minimum acceptable dimensions of the picture are 600 x 600 pixels while the maximum allowable dimensions are 1200 x 1200 pixels
- Only colored photographs are allowed and should have 24 bits per pixel in sRGB color space
- The digital image must have JPEG format
- The file size must not be more the 240 KBs
- The image sometimes needs to be compressed. The compression ratio must not be more than 20:1.
- If you are scanning an existing photograph for uploading on the online form, then the picture should be of 21×21 inches. Te resolution of the scanned photograph must be 300 pixels per inch
You may read the complete requirements for the digital photograph for business visa for USA at the following website https://travel.state.gov/content/visas/en/general/photos.html#nonimmigrant.
Submitting a Visa Application Fee
The fees for the business visa for USA have to be submitted at any bank that has been authorized by the embassy. You will have to create an account on https://www.ustraveldocs.com/ to complete the process online. The visa fees is non-transferrable and nonrefundable. A visa fee collection slip is generated online after the creation of your profile. This slip must be taken to the respective bank for payment will have to mention your location when creating the online account. After you have paid the fees, you have to keep the receipt safely. The receipt is used for the scheduling of the interview and is valid for a year from the date of issuance. In some countries, applicants are also required to pay for business visa issuance fees if it is applicable. Visit the official website of the consulate to find out more about the fee payment structure.
Scheduling an Interview
After the payment of the fees, an interview has to be scheduled. The interviews must be scheduled at the consulates or embassies at the country where you reside. It is also possible to schedule an interview at a location away from your permanent country of residence but it is harder to qualify for the business visa for USA. The date of the interview is booked online at www.ustraveldocs.com/ or through the call center.
You will require the following documents when you are scheduling the interview:
- A valid passport
- The application fee receipt
- The confirmation page of Form DS-160
- An email address
You can even make changes to the scheduled appointments. You will have to cancel your previous appointment before booking an appointment on a new date. You are not charged for cancelling and rescheduling the appointment but you may only do so once.
To get the business visa for USA, the applicant must carry with them the following set of documents when going for the interview:
- All previous passports
- A valid current passport having an expiration date at least six months later than the intended period of stay
- A valid photograph
- Appointment letter of the Visa Interview
- Fee receipt of the visa application
- The confirmation page of the visa application form (DS- 160) which has been stamped at the Visa Application Center
Other Supporting Documents: Because the main purpose to demonstrate that the reason for the visit is related to the business, you must be able to convince the interviewing consular officer that your motives for travel are completely justified.
It is recommended that you bring the following documents for the interview for getting the business visa for USA:
- If you happen to be a business owner, then you are required to bring tax return documents bank statements
- An official letter from the employer that makes a request on the behalf of the employee for the business visa for USA for the employee stating the nature of the job and the reasons for the visit in USA and the duration of the visit
- Company ID
- If you are attending a trade exhibition, bring pertinent material like advertisement brochures, flyers, newspaper or press coverage and promotional items
- Documents that provide proof of the following:
- permanent residence (a leased dwelling, ownership documents of a house)
- birth and marriage certificates justifying that you have strong family ties to return to at the end
- a letter from the employer that you will continue your job back in the country of residence after the visit
- Documents that will provide sufficient evidence that either you can pay for your food, accommodation, tickets and rental cars on your own or there is someone else financing your visit.
- Financial and bank statements demonstrating the accessible cash, employment letter and pay slips will provide further aid in getting the business visa for USA
- Registration proofs if you are attending seminars or business conferences
At the Consulate
You may have to wait outside the consulate and show relevant documents to the security staff. Only the applicants are allowed to enter the consulate. There will be a full security check through metal detectors and then you will be given a token after which your fingerprints are taken for verification. Then you will have to wait for your turn. The interviewer will be behind a glass window and you may be given headphones with a microphone for communication. The main purpose of the interview is to verify that all the information provided in the application form is true you qualify for the visa. To get the business visa for USA, you must be confident and come prepared for the interview. If you qualify the interview, the consular officer will let you know there and then and will retain your passport to issue the visa. Your documents may be collected later on in person from a location specified earlier or may be delivered to the location mentioned by you while scheduling the interview through a courier service (the latter is true if it is applicable to your country of residence). If the visa is denied, you will be given your passport immediately.
Tips for the Interview
These tips will help you to get the business visa for USA:
- Showing a limited income in order to avoid income tax may impact negatively in getting the business visa for USA.
- Appropriate documents must be taken to the consulate related to taxation, educational background, official letters, and evidence in hardcopy to show that you have strong reasons to come back to your country.
- You must also be able to communicate the details appropriately. You should be able to tell convincingly all the details of your education, experiences and the purpose of the business visit and your relationship to the organization that is sending you for the visit to get the business visa for USA.
- You should be dressed in formal attire. Tie and suit ought to be worn.
- Maintaining proper eye contact with the consular officer is important.
- You shouldn’t clean your spectacles often, display signs of nervousness or unnecessary fidgeting.
- Company ID must be worn.
- It is not necessary that the interviewing officer asks you for documents so you might have to push the documents while giving answers to the questions.
- If other colleagues from you company have previously applied for a business visa, you may ask them the type of question you might be asked.
- You must always be fully prepared at the time of the interview if you want to the business visa for USA.
Visa Waiver Program
Citizens of certain countries, are allowed to travel to USA if their visit is less than 90 days without applying for a business visa for USA. There are presently 38 countries whose citizens can participate in this program. The exemption is only applicable if the people of these specific countries meet the following requirements:
- They have a valid machine readable passport with all the necessary passport requirements
- The visit in USA is less than 90 days which is inclusive of the stay in adjacent islands, Mexico and Canada and have no desire of living in the United States permanently
- The business and pleasure visit must not be undertaken as a member of media or when on federal and government business trip
- They are journeying on an approved commercial vessel or airplane and also have a return ticket to any other country or destination other than within USA or the adjacent countries and islands
- They have never violated any terms of prior admissions in the country like staying beyond the designated time period with an expired visa or committed crimes during the visit.
- The applicant does not have a criminal record
- If the applicant is arriving by land than they have to provide valid reasons for their stay and enough evidence to support their stay in the USA
- Travelers are also a readmission to USA after a short trip to Mexico, Canada and other nearby islands if the original time period has not surpassed
- The applicant have not visited countries like Sudan, Iran, Iraq or Syria or any other country that the Department of Homeland Security deems as terrorist supporting nations from 1st March, 2011 onwards unless they have been there for providing military services while being in the army or performing duties under the employment of the government of a country that is applicable to the visa waiver program.
If you are not eligible, you may apply for non immigrant visas, B1 or B2 visa. For more details, you may visit https://www.cbp.gov/travel/international-visitors/visa-waiver-program.