Differences Between B-1 and B-2 Visas: Which Is Right for You?

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Differences Between B-1 and B-2 Visas: Which Is Right for You?

The United States government allows foreigners to travel to the country either on temporary or permanent visas (green cards). The range of visas – which are categorized by letters – cover nearly the entire alphabet, and each visa category or subcategory has its unique requirements to qualify to get one. While in most cases, one is quickly able to determine what is the best or more suitable visa for them, in other cases, it may not be as easy. For example, a common question we get at Kriezelman Burton & Associates from clients who intend to visit the Chicago area is whether one should get a B1 or B2 visa.

Should I Apply for a B1 or B2 Visa?

The answer depends on what you intend to do when you come to the United States. 

It is best to understand the difference between the B1 and B2 visa as one being for business purposes (B1) and the other being for non-business purposes, including pleasure or tourism. One thing both have in common is they are both temporary visas, meaning they are only valid for the time stated on the visa. Once that time expires, you must leave the United States unless you get an extension or change your status to another valid immigration status.

Business Reasons a B1 Visa May Be Granted

If you are coming to the United States to engage in any of the following activities, then you are better off applying for a B1 visa:

  • Engaging in consultative meetings with business associates
  • Engaging in other business activities such as negotiating and entering contractual relations with US individuals or entities
  • Participating in short-term training 
  • Attending meetings related to your existing or future business endeavor
  • Attending a conference that is relevant to your current or future business, or one related to your profession, education, or area of prosperity interest
  • Tending to legal affairs of a deceased relative such as settling the relative’s estate 
  • Transiting through the U.S. to another country 

If you intend to engage in any of these activities, then the B1 visa is the right visa for you. If not, then a B2 visa will be the right one for you if you are to engage in any of the following activities:

  • Interested in coming to the US solely for vacationing or to seek medical treatment, and not for other reasons such as to work or to live in the US permanently
  • Plan to stay only for a limited, specific period, usually a few months and certainly not permanently. The plan or intention must be established at the time you apply for the visa, and one way of doing this is to show that you have a residence either in your native country or some other country outside the United States to which you intend to return upon expiration of the validity of your visa
  • Have the financial ability to pay for your visit to and departure from the United States.

If you are in the Chicago area or have an interest in applying for a B1 or B2 visa, we can help you. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.