Visitor Visas

Goel & Anderson regularly counsels businesspeople, their clients, and their employers as to how best to meet their goals, what visas will be the most effective and when a visa can be waived.  We also regularly assist individuals in understanding the requirements for a visitor visa and assembling the appropriate documentation to obtain or extend visitor visas.

B-1 Visas for Business Visitors 

Business Visitor Visas (known as B-1 visas) are intended for individuals who will be conducting business in the United States for a limited period of time (fewer than 90 days).  B-1 visas allow a foreign national to come to the U.S. to do such things as: 

  • compete in amateur or professional athletics
  • seek or make investments
  • attend a conference, meeting, convention or trade show
  • work for foreign conference or trade show exhibitors
  • speak or lecture (when compensation is limited to expenses or an honorarium and if they have not received such payments from more than five U.S. institutions in the past six months)
  • conduct independent research that does not benefit any U.S. company
  • exhibit or take orders for products produced outside the U.S.
  • install, service or repair industrial or commercial equipment sold by a non-U.S. company to a U.S. company, when required by the purchase contract
  • settle an estate
  • negotiate a business deal
  • participate in certain training programs that are not designed to provide employment.

 Applicants for a B-1 visa must demonstrate that they:

  • want to enter the U.S. for a valid business reason
  • will stay for a limited time, not to exceed 90 days
  • can cover all their expenses during their visit
  • have compelling social and economic ties abroad (employment, a home, family, etc) ensuring their return to their home country.  

B-1 Visas for Domestic Employees 

Domestic or personal employees and nannies of foreign national employers may qualify for a B-1 visa if they accompany or join: 

  • a U.S. citizen employer who has a permanent home or is stationed in a foreign country, who is visiting or is assigned to the United States temporarily; or,
  • a foreign citizen employer in the United States holding B, E, F, H, I, J, L, M, O, P, or Q nonimmigrant visa status.

Upon arrival in the United States, the B-1 domestic employee can apply to USCIS for employment authorization that permits employment only by the qualifying employer in the U.S.  

B-2 Visas for Pleasure, Tourism or Medical Treatment 

B-2 Visas are granted to individuals traveling temporarily to the United States for non-business purposes on visits lasting fewer than 90 days.  These purposes would include tourism, visiting friends or family, amateur (unpaid) participation in musical or sports events or other types of contests, social service or medical treatment.  Goel & Anderson has helped many individuals and their family members travel to the U.S. on visitor visas.  There are certain requirements in the process.  Specifically, B-2 visitor visa applicants must document that they:

  • want to enter the U.S. for non-business reasons
  • will stay for a limited time, not to exceed 90 days
  • can cover all their expenses during their visit, by themselves or through a patron
  • have compelling social and economic ties abroad (employment, a home, family, etc) ensuring their return to their home country. 

If the reason for the visit is medical care, a visa applicant must also document the details of the medical condition and treatment plan in the form of: 

  • a medical diagnosis from a local physician, explaining the nature of the ailment and the reason the applicant requires treatment in the United States
  • a letter from a physician or medical facility confirming that the individual will be a patient, the proposed medical treatment, the anticipated length of treatment, and all projected medical expenses
  • financial records that demonstrate the individual’s ability to pay for transportation, medical, and living expenses while in the U.S. or proof that another individual or organization has committed to pay for those expenses.

Visa Waivers

The Visa Waiver Program (VWP) enables nationals of 36 participating countries to travel to the United States for tourism or business visits of 90 days or less without obtaining a visa. The 36 participating countries have been approved by the U.S. government after meeting security requirements and agreeing to share passenger, law enforcement, counter terrorism, border control and document security data with the U.S.To be eligible for VWP travel, travelers must also meet specific criteria. For example, VWP travelers must have machine readable or biometric passports valid for six months beyond their expected stay in the U.S., the purpose of their visit must be for business or tourism lasting no more than 90 days, they must be traveling on an approved air or sea carrier to the U.S. and they must not have been previously refused admission to the U.S. or violated the terms of previous U.S. entries.

There are currently 36 approved "Visa-Waiver" countries:

Andorra        Hungary New Zealand
Australia Iceland  Norway
Austria Ireland Portugal
Belgium Italy San Marino
Brunei           Japan Singapore
Czech Republic Latvia Slovakia
Denmark Liechtenstein Slovenia
Estonia          Lithuania South Korea
Finland Luxembourg Spain
France Malta Sweden
Germany Monaco Switzerland
Greece Netherlands United Kingdom
 

In addition to the 36 countries above, temporary visitors from Canada, Mexico and Bermuda can also travel to the U.S. without a visa in some cases under other provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act.  Because these three countries are not part of the VWP, the requirements for possession of machine-readable or biometric passports do not apply.

Goel & Anderson regularly counsels businesspeople, their clients, and their employers as to how best to meet their goals, what visas will be the most effective and when a visa can be waived.

Being “Out-of-Status” 

Whether you have a B-1 business visitor visa, or are a visitor traveling for pleasure or medical reasons on a B-2 visa, if your trip extends past the last day authorized by your I-94 card and you have failed to file an I-539 extension application with USCIS, then you have overstayed your approved visitor status.  This will result in the automatic voiding of your visa, and it could cause you to no longer qualify to return to the United States.  For this reason, it is very important to submit an extension application to USCIS before the I-94 card expires – even if you only expect to remain in the U.S. for just one day longer than the I-94 expiration date.