and Tourist Visas
By Masood R. Khan, Esq.
This column is not to be construed as legal advice.
Always consult an attorney for advice on your specific
Almost all of us have relatives who visit from overseas
often. That means that most of us are familiar with
the “visitor visa”, also known as the
B visa. There are two types of B visas: B-1 visas
for business visitors, and B-2 visas for visitors
The B-1 Business Visitor category is generally for
individuals who can show that they have no intention
of abandoning their residence abroad and that they
are visiting the US temporarily for business purposes.
Entry can be granted for up to a year, but usually
B-1 visas are approved for the period necessary
to conduct business and usually do not exceed 3
Under the B-1 visa, individuals must not be engaged
in employment in the US either for a US employer
or on an independent basis. Any work done in the
US must be performed on behalf of a foreign employer
and paid for by the foreign employer and should
also be related to international commerce or trade.
When applying for the B-1 visa, the foreign consulate
will consider certain factors when deciding whether
to issue a visa. This includes: 1) whether an American
worker could be hired to perform the work, 2) whether
the work is predominantly created in the US, and
3) whether the work is controlled mainly by a US,
and not a foreign company. If the answer to any
of these questions is "yes" then the B-1
visa will most likely be denied. Activities normally
associated with valid B-1 visa purposes may include:
· an employee of a foreign company coming
to the US for sales transactions and purchases and
to negotiate and service contracts · coming
to the US to conduct business or market research
· coming to the US to interview for a professional
position in order to gain experience to help in
finding a position in one's home country ·
business conferences, seminars, or conventions ·
an investor coming to set up an investment in the
US or to open a US office · personal or domestic
servants who can show they are not abandoning a
residence abroad, have worked for the employer for
a year and the employer is not residing in the US
permanently · professional athletes who are
coming to participate in a tournament, and not paid
by anyone in the US · a member of a board
of a US company coming to a board meeting ·
coming to the US to handle preliminary activities
in creating a business The B-2 Pleasure Visitors
Approximately 20 million non-immigrants are admitted
annually to the US and more than three-fourths of
those come as tourists. These individuals come on
the B-2 visa. B-2 visa includes tourists, visits
to relatives or friends, visits for health reasons,
involvement in conferences, participation in incidental
or short courses of study and participation in amateur
arts and entertainment events.
The success of obtaining a B-2 visa will depend
on the national origin of the applicant, the age
and marital status of the applicant, and the applicant's
ties to the US and his or her home country.
Tourists are normally given a six- month visa which
can be extended in some circumstances for more time.
In order to qualify for a tourist visa, an individual
must meet some general requirements necessary to
show non-immigrant intent. Non-immigrant intent
basically means that the tourist intends to eventually
return to his or her home country. The factors that
are examined by the consulate in determining nonimmigrant
intent may include:
· that the visitor is coming to the US for
a specific period of time · that the visitor
will not be engaging in work and will engage solely
in legitimate activities relating to pleasure ·
that the visitor will maintain a foreign residence
that he has no intention of abandoning during the
period of his or her stay in the US.
For a tourist to show nonimmigrant intent and demonstrate
compliance with the above factors, the embassy or
consulate will look at the prospective visitor’s
financial arrangements for the trip, specificity
of trip plans, ties to the alien's home country
and ties to the US.
More specifically, consular officers are instructed
to consider the following factors:
· if relatives or friends are sponsoring,
whether the ties between the alien and the supporter
are compelling enough to make the sponsorship reasonable;
· whether the visitor has specific and realistic
plans for the visit and not just vague and uncertain
plans for the entire period of the contemplated
visit; the period of time planned for the visit
is consistent with the purpose of the trip and the
prospective visitor has established that departure
from the US will take place when the visit is over;
· whether the prospective visitor can show
reasonably good and permanent employment, meaningful
business or financial connections, close family
ties, or social or cultural associations in the
home country which would indicate the desire to
return back to his or her home country when the
visit is over.
The application for a B-1 or B-2 visa is normally
made at a US consulate. An applicant will normally
apply at the closest consular post in their home
country. Usually, the application must be made in
person, though some consulates allow the application
to be made by mail, a travel agent, or drop box.
An application for a B-1 business visitor visa is
often accompanied by a detailed letter explaining
the reasons for the trip, the itinerary for the
trip and, if the trip is on behalf of a foreign
company, and the fact that the company is paying
all of the expenses to be incurred during the trip.
The application should also be accompanied by extensive
supporting documentation showing the activities
that will take place during the trip, travel documentation
and information on the B-1 visitor's employer.
To show arrangement for the trip to the US, the
alien can show confirmed hotel reservations, car
rentals, internal travel arrangements such as domestic
flights or tourist packages, and/or a letter of
invitation from a US source.
In order to show that the alien has firm ties to
his or her native country, steady employment, substantial
business or property interests abroad and close
family ties should be shown. Ownership of property
or a lease agreement for property in the native
country will prove useful for such a showing. These
items are extremely important factors, especially
if the alien has close ties with the US or has close
family members here. The scrutiny in this category
is particularly high for persons from "high-risk"
countries. These are persons from countries with
high rate of visa refusal and a low rate of compliance.
These same individuals also usually happen to be
single, young and well educated.
Shortly after September 11, the U.S. State Department
began requiring that all male nonimmigrant visa
applicants between the ages of 16 and 45 from Muslim
counties be subject to increased security checks
and they are now subject to an additional 20-day
waiting period during which the State Department
checks their names against an FBI database.
Usually, successful applicants for a B-1 or B-2
visa will be given a multiple entry visa stamp that
stays valid for ten years. The stamp will often
say “B-1/B-2,” indicating the person
can use the visa to enter to conduct activities
falling under either classification. The multiple
entry, multiyear visa does not mean that a person
can stay in the US for as long as the visa is valid.
Rather, the US has a “two tier” system
to entering. The visa is the first tier and allows
you to seek admission at a US point of entry. The
INS inspector at the point of entry will be the
second tier, the white I-94 card authorizing the
visitor to stay in the US for a specified period
of time (normally less than six months). Thus, the
10-year visa would allow a person to seek admission
multiple times over the 10 years. But an inspector
wi ll determine the length of time authorized for
(Masood Khan is an attorney with Khan & Associates.
He is a graduate of UCLA and the UC Davis School
of Law, and a member of the State Bar of California.
He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
or phone at 818 994-0347)