Florida is a hub for both tourists and business travelers. In 2017, there were approximately 118.5 million tourists in Florida. Millions of those tourists were from out of the country. Whether here for business or pleasure, a significant portion of those tourists came to the country with B visas.
A B visa is a temporary, non-immigrant visa. There are two different types of this visa. Depending on your type, you could come into the country to visit family or friends, receive medical treatment, or conduct business.
The Florida Immigration Law Counsel has helped many foreign individuals make their way into the U.S. We can advise you on the process and determine whether or not the B visa is right for you.
Who is Eligible for a B-1 Visa?
There are two unique sets of eligibility requirements. First, there’s the B-1 visa. This visa is for individuals who:
- Live outside of the country and have no plans of permanently leaving their home
- Will only be in the U.S. for a set period of time
- Plan on leaving the U.S. after that period
- Are coming to the country for business reasons, such as attending a meeting, taking an order, or negotiating a deal
- Have the financial means to support themselves during their stay
Individuals with a B-1 cannot earn any money from a U.S. business. Instead, their income must remain from their foreign employer.
There must be evidence that you meet all of the visa requirements. For instance, you may need to show your return travel tickets. You might also need to provide bank statements and other documentation.
The Length of Your Visa
Typically, a B-1 visa is only valid for six months. But this can change depending on the goal of your visit. Someone who is visiting the U.S. for a convention might be done with their activities in one month. In that situation, the visa would only be good for one month.
Family of a B-1 Visa Holder
If you have family members and want to travel with them, you need to file another visa application. However, they cannot receive a B-1 visa unless they also have business in the U.S. You need to file a B-2 for each family member who will be accompanying you.
Who is Eligible for a B-2 Visa?
The B-2 visa is for tourists who wish to visit the United States. With the visa, they can vacation, visit friends or family, receive medical care, attend a social event, play in a concert or sporting event (if there is no payment involved), or take short educational courses. The visa holder cannot work or receive educational credits while in the country. If you want to be able to do either, you can apply for a different type of visa.
Unlike some other visas, the B2 has no cap. Therefore, applicants who meet the criteria and fill out the forms properly can receive the visa. There are no lengthy wait times.
How the Process Works
If you’re seeking a B visa, you can submit an online application. But you need to be cautious. A single mistake can ruin your chance at a visa. After completing your application, you will receive a DS-160 number and a confirmation page. You must schedule an interview, print the page, and bring it with you to an interview at the U.S consulate or embassy in your country.
During your interview, the office will ask you questions about your visit. They determine whether or not you are allowed to enter the U.S. on the visa.
After you arrive, you can only stay for your established time period. But you may be able to seek an extension. The maximum stay with an extension is one year. Often, the immigration office will only approve extensions for unexpected or otherwise convincing reasons. For example, a delay in your medical treatment could merit an extension. You should be sure to file well before your visa expires.
B Visas and Green Cards
B-1 and B-2 visas are not dual intent visas. Therefore, they can’t be used to obtain a green card. No matter what happens during your stay, you cannot seek a permanent immigration status. Doing so could make you ineligible for future visas.
However, there are other ways to obtain green cards. For instance, you could obtain a dual intent visa. The H-1B, E, and L-1 visas are all dual intent. If you obtain such a visa, you could apply for a green card. As with many other immigration processes, this one requires a wait. It could take months or years for you to receive permanent status.
If you intend on applying for a green card, you should speak with an immigration attorney before applying for a B visa. There may be a more appropriate visa available. By getting the right visa you can save yourself from a headache. You may also be able to save yourself time and money on visa fees.
What Should You Know About B Visas?
B-1 and B-2 visas tend to be easier to obtain than other types of visas. For this reason, many foreign individuals use this visa to enter the U.S. But don’t rush to apply for this type of visa. If you want to visit for reasons other than business or travel, a B visa is not the right choice.
In fact, it could cause you some trouble. There are consequences for violating your visa terms. You could be fined or banned from returning to the country. The ban could last for ten years or longer.
Before you enter the U.S., you should be well aware of your rights as a visa holder. This can prevent you from breaking the rules and being unable to return to the country.
You should also realize that not all travelers need visas. There are some individuals who can apply for the Visa Waiver Program. Your eligibility depends on whether or not your home country is a participant in the program. If you are eligible, you can visit or stay in the U.S. for business or pleasure reasons for a maximum of 90 days.
Learn More with a Florida Immigration Attorney
Here at the Florida Immigration Law Counsel, we can tell you everything you need to know about visas. If you plan on applying for a B visa, we can simplify the process. Contact our office today and learn more.