Business/Tourist Visa

FAQ

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Overview

The B-1/B-2 visitor visa is for people traveling to the United States temporarily for business (B-1) or for pleasure or medical treatment (B-2). Generally, the B-1 visa is for travelers consulting with business associates, attending scientific, educational, professional or business conventions/conferences, settling an estate or negotiating contracts. The B-2 visa is for travel that is recreational in nature, including tourism, visits with friends or relatives, medical treatment and activities of a fraternal, social or service nature. Often, the B-1 and B-2 visas are combined and issued as one visa: the B-1/B-2.

Qualifications

If you apply for a B-1/B-2 visa, you must demonstrate to a consular officer that you qualify for a U.S. visa in accordance with the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). Section 214(b) of the INA presumes that every B-1/B-2 applicant is an intending immigrant. You must overcome this legal presumption by showing:

  • That the purpose of your trip to the United States is for a temporary visit, such as business, pleasure, or medical treatment
  • That you plan to remain in the United States for a specific, limited period of time
  • Evidence of funds to cover your expenses while in the United States, such as bank book.
  • That you have a residence outside the United States, as well as other binding social or economic ties, that will ensure your return abroad at the end of your visit

Personal or domestic employees and crew members working aboard vessels within the Outer Continental Shelf may qualify for B-1 visas under certain circumstances.

Application Items

If you apply for a business/tourist visa, you must submit the following:

  • A Nonimmigrant Visa Electronic Application (DS-160) Form. Visit the DS-160 web page for more information about the DS-160.
  • A passport valid for travel to the United States with a validity date at least six months beyond your intended period of stay in the United States (unless country-specific agreements provide exemptions). If more than one person is included in your passport, each person desiring a visa must submit an application.
  • Your expired passports issued within the past 10 years
  • One color photograph 2"x2" (5cmx5cm) taken within the past 6 months against a white background (Please attach your photo upside down on the upper left corner of DS-160 confirmation page). This web page has information about the required photo format.*Starting November 1, 2016, applicants are not permitted to wear eyeglasses in photos.
  • An interview appointment letter confirming that you booked an appointment through this service.

Non-Japanese applicants must also include:

  • Photocopy (both sides) of the Japanese Alien Registration Card or “Zairyu” card

In addition to these items, please also bring whatever supporting documents you believe support the information provided to the consular officer. If a visa is issued, there may be an additional visa issuance reciprocity fee, depending on your nationality. The Department of State's website can help you find out if you must pay a visa issuance reciprocity fee and what the fee amount is.

How to Apply

Application procedures vary between consular posts. Click here for complete details.

Supporting Documents

Supporting documents are only one of many factors a consular officer will consider in your interview. Consular officers look at each application individually and consider professional, social, cultural and other factors during adjudication. Consular officers may look at your specific intentions, family situation, and your long-range plans and prospects within your country of residence. Each case is examined individually and is accorded every consideration under the law.

Caution: Do not present false documents. Fraud or misrepresentation can result in permanent visa ineligibility. If confidentiality is of concern, the applicant should bring the documents to the Embassy or Consulate in a sealed envelope. The Embassy or Consulate will not make this information available to anyone and will respect the confidentiality of the information.

You should bring the following documents to your interview. Original documents are always preferred over photocopies and you must bring these documents with you to the interview. English translations must be attached to all documents which are in a foreign language. Do not fax, email or mail any supporting documents to the Embassy or Consulate.

  • Current proof of income, tax payments, property or business ownership, or assets.
  • Your travel itinerary and/or other explanation about your planned trip.
  • A letter from your employer detailing your position, salary, how long you have been employed, any authorized vacation, and the business purpose, if any, of your U.S. trip.
  • Criminal/court records pertaining to any arrest or conviction anywhere, even if you completed your sentence or were later pardoned.

Additionally, based on your purpose of travel, you should consider bringing the following:

Students

Bring your latest school results, transcripts and degrees/diplomas. Also bring evidence of financial support such as monthly bank statements, fixed deposit slips, and proof of your current enrollment in a college or university.

Working adults

Bring an employment letter from your employer and pay slips from the most recent three months.

Business visitors and company directors

Bring evidence of your position in the company and remuneration.

Visiting a relative

Bring photocopies of your relative's proof of status (e.g. Green Card, naturalization certificate, valid visa, etc).

Previous visitors to the United States

If you were previously in the United States, any documents attesting to your immigration or visa status.

Supporting Documents for Applicants Seeking Medical Care

If you wish to travel to the U.S. for medical treatment, then you should be prepared to present the following documentation in addition to the documents listed above and those the consular officer may require:

  • A medical diagnosis from a local physician explaining the nature of your ailment and the reason you require treatment in the United States.
  • A letter from a physician or medical facility in the United States expressing a willingness to treat this specific ailment and detailing the projected length and cost of treatment (including doctors' fees, hospitalization fees, and all medical-related expenses).
  • A statement of financial responsibility from the individuals or organization paying for your transportation, medical and living expenses. The individuals guaranteeing payment of these expenses must provide proof of their ability to do so, often in the form of bank or other statements of income/savings or certified copies of income tax returns.

Supporting Documents for Applicants Seeking Visas to Attend Technical Conferences

If you are attending technical conferences, you must present the following documentation in addition to the documents listed above:

  • Complete CV or resume
  • Complete list of publications, if applicable
  • Letter of acceptance/invitation from the school

Other Business Activities

Business visas are appropriate for the following activities:

Business Venture. The B-1 visa is the appropriate visa classification for individuals travelling to the United States to survey potential sites for a business and/or to lease premises.

The holder of a B-1 visa may not remain in the United States to manage the business. If the individual is to remain in the United States, an L-1 (intra-company transferee) visa will be required. The L-1 (intra-company transferee) visa would enable the holder to travel to the United States for a temporary period to open up and operate a branch, subsidiary or affiliate office of the business there. To qualify, the new U.S. operation is required to file a petition on the employee's behalf with the nearest office of the Department of Homeland Security, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) in the United States.

Medical Elective. An elective clerkship which affords practical experience and instruction in the various disciplines of medicine under the supervision and direction of faculty physicians at a U.S. medical school's hospital may be undertaken on a B-1 visa. The clerkship must be an approved part of the individual's foreign school education with no remuneration from the hospital.

When applying for a visa, a letter from the U.S. medical school outlining the nature and duration of the stay and source of remuneration, if any, should accompany the application. If travelling visa free under the Visa Waiver Program, the letter from the school should be presented to the officer of the Immigration and Naturalization Service at the port of entry.

Students seeking training as physiotherapists, dentists, nurses or veterinarians require H-3 visas.

Researcher. Individuals engaged in independent research may be eligible for a B-1 visa provided there is no remuneration from a U.S. source and the results of the research will not benefit the American institution. Those who will receive payment from a U.S. source and/or the U.S. institution will benefit from the results of the research, will require an exchange visitor (J-1) or a temporary work visa.

Selling. Individuals travelling to the United States to participate in exhibitions, set up exhibition booths, display samples, sign contracts, and take orders for merchandise produced in and delivered from Japan, may be eligible for a B-1 visa. The holder of a B-1 visa may not actually sell or take orders for merchandise produced in the United States. If the proposed activities are not as described, a temporary work visa will be required.

Service Engineer. Engineers travelling to the United States to install, service, or repair commercial or industrial equipment or machinery sold by a company in Japan to a buyer in the United States under a purchase contract requiring that the Japanese company provide such services may apply for a B-1 visa. The individual must possess the specialized knowledge essential to perform the services, receive no remuneration from a U.S. source, and the company must not receive any payment for these services in addition to that specified in the original contract of sale. If the proposed activities are not as described, a temporary work visa will be required.

The B-1 visa does not cover building or construction work, even if the purchase contract requires that the company provide such services. In such cases, the employee must qualify for a temporary work visa.

The B-1 visa for business is also appropriate for engineers travelling to the United States to train U.S. personnel in the installation, service or repair of commercial or industrial equipment or machinery as specified above. The individuals concerned must continue to be paid by the Japanese company and the contract of sale must specifically require the seller to provide such services.

Speaker/Lecturer: Individuals travelling to the United States in connection with a speaking engagement may apply for a B-1 visa provided there is no remuneration from a U.S. source, other than expenses incidental to the visit. Speakers/lectures who will receive an honorarium in addition to incidental expenses may still be eligible for the B-1 visa provided they satisfy the conditions below.

  • Conference: Individuals participating in scientific, educational, professional, or business conventions, conferences or seminars may travel to the United States on B-1 visas. The B-1 visa is also the appropriate visa classification to present a paper at a conference, provided there is no remuneration from a U.S. source other than expenses incidental to the stay.
  • Those who will receive an honorarium in addition to incidental expenses will only be eligible for the B-1 visa provided they satisfy the following conditions:
    • The activities will last no longer than nine days at a single institution.
    • The institution is a nonprofit research organization or a governmental research organization, or an institution of higher education, or a related or affiliated nonprofit entity.
    • Such activities are conducted for the benefit of the institution or entity.
    • The delegate has not accepted payment or expenses from five such institutions during the previous six month period.
  • If the proposed activities are not as described, an exchange visitor (J-1) or a temporary work visa will be required. 

Telecommuters. Individuals temporarily resident in the United States who will be working from home as computer programmers for foreign based companies may be eligible for B-1 visas provided they satisfy the following conditions:

  • The individual is employed by a company outside of the United States.
  • No remuneration will be received from a U.S. source, other than expenses incidental to the stay.
  • The work is in an occupation requiring a bachelor's or higher degree in the specific specialty and the individual has that level of education.

If you believe that you may qualify for the B-1 visa, you should apply for a visa in order for your qualifications to be evaluated.

If accompanying a spouse who is the beneficiary of a work or student visa, the individual may apply for both the derivative and B-1 visa. When applying for admission into the United States, you should advise the USCIS at the port of entry of your dual intent, that is to say, you are accompanying your spouse, but also intend to continue working for your Japanese employer as a telecommuter.

Voluntary Work. Individuals participating in voluntary service programs which benefit a U.S. local community, who can establish that they are a member of, and have a commitment to, a particular recognized religious or nonprofit charitable organization, may be eligible for a B-1 visa if the work to be performed is traditionally done by volunteer charity workers. The individuals must not receive a salary or remuneration from a U.S. source, other than an allowance or other reimbursement for expenses incidental to their stay in the United States and they cannot engage in the selling of articles and/or the solicitation and acceptance of donations.

A voluntary service program is an organized project conducted by a recognized religious or nonprofit charitable organization to provide assistance to the poor or the needy, or to further a religious or charitable cause.

If the proposed activities are not as described, an exchange visitor (J-1) or a temporary work visa will be required.

Note: When applying for entry into the United States as a voluntary worker with a visa or under the Visa Waiver Program, you should furnish a letter from your U.S. sponsor which contains the following information:

  • Your name and date and place of birth
  • Your foreign permanent residence address
  • The name and address of your initial destination in the U.S.
  • The anticipated duration of your assignment

More Information

For more information about business and tourist visas, visit the Department of State's website.