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A B visa is one of a category of visas issued by the United States government to foreign citizens seeking entry for a temporary period. The two types of B visa are the B-1 visa, issued to those seeking entry for business purposes, and the B-2 visa, issued to those seeking entry for tourism or other non-business purposes. In practice, the two visa categories are usually combined together and issued as a "B1/B2 visa" valid for a temporary visit for either business or pleasure, or a combination of the two. Visitors from some countries do not need to obtain a visa for these purposes (see United States visas).
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As with other non-immigrant U.S. visas, a B1/B2 visa has a validity period (from 1 to 10 years), allows for either one or multiple entries into the U.S, and elicits a period of stay (3–6 months) recorded by the Customs and Border Protection officer at the port of entry on the individual's form I-94.
Validity periods per country are listed in the U.S. Department of State Visa Reciprocity Tables and vary from 3 months for Iran, 1 year multientry for China, 3 years for Russia, and 5 years for Australia, to 10 years for Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Hong Kong, India, Israel, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Morocco, Singapore, South Africa and most European Countries.
Periods of stay for B-1 visas may be granted initially for a duration long enough to allow the visitor to conduct their business, up to a maximum of 6 months, and can be extended for another 6 months; B-1 visas usually granted for three months or less, while B-2 visas are generally granted for six months. Extensions are possible, provided the individual has not violated the conditions of their admission.
Under section 214(b) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, a foreigner must prove to the satisfaction of the Consular officer his or her intent to return to his home country after visiting the United States. The act specifically states:
|“||Every alien (other than a nonimmigrant described in subparagraph (L) or (V) of section 101(a)(15), and other than a nonimmigrant described in any provision of section 101(a)(15)(H)(i) except subclause (b1) of such section) shall be presumed to be an immigrant until he establishes to the satisfaction of the consular officer, at the time of application for a visa, and the immigration officers, at the time of application for admission, that he is entitled to a nonimmigrant status under section 101(a)(15)||”|
In practice, this means that consular officers have wide discretion to deny a visa application. Once refused, there is no judicial or other means to challenge a visa decision. The foreigner, however, is free to apply for a visa again, particularly if circumstances have changed that might show to the consular officer that the applicant overcomes the presumption of being an intending immigrant.
Business or pleasure cover a wide variety of possible reasons to visit the United States. Under the category of temporary visitor for business, it can be used to:
Under the category of temporary visitor for pleasure, a B2 visa can be used to:
The B2 visa can also be used by cohabiting (unmarried) partners of non-immigrant visa holders.
The Adjusted Visa Refusal Rate for fiscal year 2013 for B visas were:
|Antigua and Barbuda||18.1%|
|Central African Republic||46.4%|
|Federated States of Micronesia||100%|
|Great Britain and Northern Ireland||16.9%|
|Guinea - Bissau||43.6%|
|Papua New Guinea||3.1%|
|Sao Tome And Principe||22.2%|
|St. Kitts And Nevis||30.7%|
|St. Vincent And The Grenadines||22.5%|
|Trinidad And Tobago||20.6%|
|United Arab Emirates||8.0%|