What’s the Difference Between B1 and B2 visa

The United States offers more than 180 types of visas, so it can be difficult to understand which one applies to your trip. People who apply for the wrong visa can kiss their dream of visiting the US goodbye, since their application will surely get rejected. So, it is important to identify which visa is relevant to your trip.

In case your trip involves engaging in business activity, visiting relatives/friends or getting medical treatment, you will need a B category visa. B visas are non-immigrant, temporary visas that are broadly classified into the B1 and B2 types

Both B1 and B2 are the most commonly applied for visas. Here’s how they differ in terms of permitted activities.

B1 Visitor Visa

Also known as the Business Visitor Visa, the B1 visa is applicable for people who wish to enter the US on a temporary basis to conduct any business-related activities. Some activities that qualify as business purposes include:

  • To sign or negotiate contracts
  • To buy business supplies or parts
  • To take an exam that can only be written in the United States
  • To offer professional services
  • To take part in a business meeting, exposition, or convention
  • To settle an estate or manage assets
  • To conduct independent research
  • To participate in a non-professional sports event

In case any of these activities are expected to last beyond 6 months, you should apply for a visa that permits a longer stay. Alternatively, you can also file for visa extension with the USCIS. However, make sure you are able to prove that initially the trip was not intended to last more than 6 months. 

Any form of misrepresentation or attempt to commit fraud is not taken lightly and will lead to rejection of the visa extension. You may also face difficulties in obtaining a visa for future trips.

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B2 Visitor Visa

For people visiting the US to engage in leisure activities, meet loved ones or due to medical purposes, the B2 visa is applicable. Some activities that are permitted under a B2 visa are:

  • Visiting family or friends in the US
  • Taking part in recreational classes or retreats
  • Getting medical treatment
  • Visiting famous tourist attractions
  • Attending a college or family reunion 
  • Attending a wedding or any other ceremony

Difference between B1 and B2

As in the case of B1 visa, if you feel you may need to stay beyond the date for which the visa is issued, file for the extension before your current visa expires. If you fail to do so, your stay will be considered unauthorized and will lead to serious consequences. These include deportation and a ban on future entry (up to 3 years) into the US.

Most often, the B category visas are combined and issued as a B-1/B-2 visa. This allows travellers to visit any place in the US before, during or after their business project/activity.

Although the B1 and B2 visas vary in terms of the nature of the trip, the application process for both is the same. You need to fill the DS-160 form with the relevant information and pay the $160 fee online or as cash at a bank. You can then schedule the biometric and visa interview appointments.

The documents required for the interview will depend on whether your trip is for leisure, medical purposes, or business activities.

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Mani Karthik

About the Author

Mani Karthik

Ex “NRI” and Founder of the “Back to India” movement. I share my experience about immigrating to USA here.