B-1/B-2 Visa – Business or Pleasure Visitors
Visitor Visas Overview
B-1 and B-2 visas are used for foreign visitors invited by U-M to engage in temporary business, pleasure, tourism, or vacation activities in one of the following categories:
Or, if the foreign visitor is from an eligible country, he or she may be able to visit the U.S. without a visa, through the:
B-1 Business Category
B-1 visitors must demonstrate that:
The B-1 visa category may be used by individuals who plan short visits to one or several campuses in the U.S. However, it is not intended for individuals accepting any type of formal academic appointment for a term or longer.
NOTE: If a department has any intent to offer gainful employment to an individual, contact the U-M International Center at ICfacultystaff@umich.edu or 734.764.9310 to determine the appropriate visa status for the duration of the visit.
Standard uses for academic business include:
Examples of appropriate uses for B-1 Business Category for visits to the University of Michigan
B-1 business category is not appropriate for visitors engaging in collaborative research with U-M faculty or research which will benefit the University in any way. Visitors involved in exchange programs, formal collaborations between institutions, or joint research projects should use the J-1 Exchange Visitor visa. To determine whether B-1 business category or J-1 exchange visitor is appropriate, contact the IC. The IC, in consultation with the Office of General Counsel will determine which visa status the visitor should use.
B-1 business category is generally not appropriate for activities involving volunteering or internships. Visitors coming to U-M to observe may need to come on a J-1 visa; please consult with the International Center regarding visits for the purpose of observation.
The U.S. Department of State guidance on appropriate use of the B-1 visa: Business Travel to the United States - What Type of U.S. Visa Will You Need?
Length of Stay in the U.S.
B-1 visitors are admitted to the U.S. for the length of time which is deemed by U.S port of entry officials to be fair and reasonable for completion of the purpose of the trip. Generally this is for a period of 6-months or less with the possibility of extension. The length of stay for a B-1 visitor cannot exceed one year.
There are no derivative visas for B-1 visitors. Their dependents must each apply for a B-2 visa (see information about B-2 visas below). Dependents on B-2 visas must follow the regulations for that visa. B-2 visa holders are not eligible for employment and are not permitted to enroll in a course of study in the U.S. Visitors may be eligible for casual, short-term classes such as an English Language Class or an arts and crafts class. Incidental classes such as these would not violate the terms of their legal immigration status as a B-2 visitor. For more information, contact the U-M International Center.
B-2 Pleasure or Tourism Category
B-2 visitors must demonstrate that:
Standard uses for the B-2 category include:
Incidental study with B-2 status
If a visitor is coming to the U.S. primarily for tourism, but wants to take a short course of study which is recreational, and the course is less than 18 hours per week, he/she may be able to do so on a visitor visa. As an example, if a visitor is taking a vacation to the U.S., and during this vacation he/she would like to take a two-day cooking class for enjoyment, and there is no credit earned, then this would be permitted on a visitor visa. If the course of study is 18 hours or more a week, a student visa is required. Furthermore, any kind of study that would earn credit or certification is not permitted on a visitor visa. A consular officer will determine the visa category the visitor will need based on the purpose of the trip and supporting documentation.
Length of Stay in the U.S.
B-2 visitors are usually admitted for a standard period of 6 months. If more time is needed an application for an extension must be made to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), but admission cannot be extended for longer than 1 year. The admitting immigration official at the port of entry will record the length of stay allowed on the admission stamp or I-94 card. If an extension within 1 year is needed, an application for extension must be made to USCIS prior to the expiration of the current status.
Academic honorarium payments and reimbursements for incidental expenses are allowed, if the visit meets the same eligibility criteria as a B-1 visa holder. Source: Section 431 of American Competitiveness and Workforce Improvement Act.
Visa Waiver Program
Visa Waiver visitors must demonstrate that:
Effective January 12, 2009, all Visa Waiver Program visitors are required to register for online travel clearance through the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA). It is suggested that individuals who plan to take advantage of VWP apply for ESTA authorization when they begin planning their trip to the U.S. and no later than 72 hours before their flight. In many cases authorization is available within seconds, but cases that receive an “Authorization Pending” response may require the full three days. Individuals that may make short notice trips to the U.S. may apply for ESTA authorization without specific travel plans. ESTA approvals are generally valid for two years. However, there are a number of cases in which a new ESTA approval may be required, such as issuance of a new passport. See the complete ESTA Frequently Asked Questions for more information.
To register, the visitor must submit an online application at https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov. The application requires submission of biographic and passport information, and also requests travel details. Once submitted, the application is reviewed against appropriate national security and law enforcement databases. There is currently no fee for ESTA applications.
If the application is approved, an ESTA travel authorization will remain valid for up to two years or until the visitor's passport expires, whichever comes first. While it is valid, the authorization may be used for multiple entries to the U.S.
Although a visitor's ESTA registration may be approved, it does not guarantee that he/she will be admitted to the U.S. All visitors are subject to inspection upon arrival and may be denied entry at the discretion of U.S. border officials.
If the ESTA application is denied, or if the visitor does not apply for ESTA clearance, then the visitor must obtain a B-1/B-2 visa stamp at a U.S. consulate in order to enter the U.S. for short-term business or tourism.
Length of Stay in the U.S.
In order to adhere to the requirements of the Visa Waiver program, the visit must be no longer than 90 days. If the visit will be longer, the visitor should obtain a B-1 or B-2 visa stamp or perhaps another visa classification.
Academic honorarium payments and reimbursements for incidental expenses are allowed for visitors in both WB and WT status, if the visit meets the same eligibility criteria as a B-1 visa holder. Source: Section 431 of American Competitiveness and Workforce Improvement Act.
For more information, go to the official U.S. Department of State Visa Waiver Program web site.
How to Apply for a B-1/B-2 Visa
Visa processing times vary, depending upon the circumstances of each U.S. embassy and if the individual is required to schedule a personal interview as part of the visa process. For many applicants, a personal appearance interview at the U.S. embassy is required as a standard part of visa processing. If an interview is required, the visitor will need to set up an appointment at the U.S. embassy or consulate. The actual interview may be very short, maybe even less than five minutes. If additional processing is needed after the appointment, visa applicants will be informed at the time they submit their applications. While most additional processing takes 30 days or less, a small percentage may take considerably longer.
Visitors are required to pay up to two fees: the visa application fee and the visa issuance reciprocity fee.
To apply for a B-1 or B-2 visa, you will need to provide the following documentation for each applicant:
There may be additional documentation requirements established by individual U.S. embassies. Refer to the U.S. Department of State List of Embassies to determine specific requirements.
What to Do When the Visitor Arrives at U-M
Travel Outside the U.S. and Re-entry
If a foreign national in B-1 or B-2 visa status wishes to leave the U.S. temporarily and return, he or she must carry appropriate documentation to gain re-entry to the U.S. Re-entry documentation generally includes:
Last reviewed: 08/15