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B-1 / B-2 VISITORS VISA / VISA WAIVER PROGRAM


GENERAL INFORMATION


According to the US immigration and Nationality Act, "an alien (other than one coming for the purpose of study or of performing skilled or unskilled labor or as a representative of foreign press, radio, film, or other information media coming to engage is such vocation) having a residence in a foreign country which he has no intention of abandoning and who is visiting the United States for business or temporarily for pleasure can be admitted into the United States in B status.

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B-1 VISITOR VISAS FOR BUSINESS


Aliens who wish to enter the United States temporarily for certain business activities, and who are otherwise eligible to receive visas, may obtain B-1 visitor visas. Generally speaking, B-1 business activities are those that do not involve the performance of labor in the United States. Examples of proper uses of the B-1 visa, taken from the U.S. State Department Foreign Affairs Manual (9 FAM 41.31), include the following:
  • Commercial Transactions, Negotiations, Consultations, Conferences,Litigation, etc.
  • Ministers on Evangelical Tour
  • Missionary Work
  • Participants in Voluntary Service Program
  • Members of Board of Directors of U.S. Corporation to attend meeting of the board
  • Personal or domestic servants of US citizens, green card holders, or foreign nationals who are in the U.S. in Nonimmgrant Status (such as H, L or E) Nonimmigrants can request that their personal or domestic servants travel to the United States on B-1 visas to continue working in the U.S. as their personal or domestic servant if
    1. the employee has a residence abroad which he or she has no intention of abandoning;
    2. the employee can demonstrate at least one year's experience as a personal or domestic servant;
    3. the employee has been employed abroad by the employer as a personal or domestic servant, for at least one year prior to the date the employer's admission to the United States; or
    4. if the employer-employee relationship existed immediately prior to the time of visa application, the employer can demonstrate that he or she has regularly employed (either year-round or seasonally) personal or domestic servants over a period of several years preceding the domestic servant's visa application; and
    5. the employer and the employee have signed an employment contract which guarantees at least the "prevailing wage" for the job, plus free room and board.
  • Professional Athletes (who receive no salary other than prize money)
  • Investor Seeking Investment in the United States
  • Internships with the United Nations Institute for Training and Research
  • Still Photographers (to take pictures if they receive no income from a US source)
  • Musicians

      According to the Foreign Affairs Manual, "an alien musician may be issued a B-1 visa, provided the musician is coming to the United States in order to utilize recording facilities for recording purposes only, the recording will be distributed and sold only outside the United States, and no public performances will be given."

  • Artists
      According to the Foreign Affairs Manual, "an artist coming to the United States to paint, sculpt, etc. who is not under contract with a U.S. employer and who does not intend to regularly sell such art-work in the United States" may be entitled to a B-1 visa.
B-2 VISITOR VISAS FOR PLEASURE

Aliens who wish to enter the United States temporarily for pleasure, and who are otherwise eligible to receive visas, may obtain B-2 visitor visas. Examples of proper uses of the B-2 visa, taken from the U.S. State Department Foreign Affairs Manual (9 FAM 41.31), include the following:

1. Tourism or Family Visits

2 Medical Reasons

3. Participation in Social Events

4. Incidental Course of Study

      According to the Foreign Affairs Manual, "Aliens coming to the United States primarily for tourism who also incidentally will engage in a short course of study during their visit" may be granted a B-2 visa. The notation, "STUDY INCIDENTAL TO VISIT; I-20 NOT REQUIRED" will be noted below the B-2 visa stamp.

5. Prospective Student

      In some cases an F-1 student applicant who has neither been issued a Form I-20A- B nor made a final selection of a school may desire to enter for the primary purpose of selecting a school. If this is the case the student may be issued a B-2 visa and a notation "PROSPECTIVE STUDENT, SCHOOL NOT SELECTED" will be noted below the B-2 visa stamp. If an alien enters the United States in such status, then once the school is selected he or she may apply for a change of status to F from the INS.

      If, on the other hand, the alien enters using visa waiver, then he or she will have to return back to Japan for a student visa since aliens in the US on the visa waiver program may not change or extend their status.

6. Amateur Entertainer and Athletes

      According to the Foreign Affairs Manual, "an amateur (or group of amateurs) who will not be paid for performances and will perform in a social and/or charitable context or as a competitor in a talent show, contest or athletic event is eligible for B-2 classification, even if the incidental expenses associated with the visit are reimbursed."

7. A Vocational or Recreational School

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VISA WAIVER PROGRAM


Citizens from Japan are generally entitled to enter the United States for up to 90 days as temporary visitors for business or pleasure without a nonimmigrant visa. The Visa Waiver Pilot Program began on October 1, 1988 and currently ends on April 30, 2000. Congress will likely extend this program prior to its current expiration date. Since most visits to the United States for B-1/2 activities normally will last fewer than 90 days, Japanese nationals with clean immigration histories are encouraged to use the Visa Waiver Program.

Upon arrival by air or sea in the United States, a Visa Waiver alien must present to the INS Officer a valid passport and a round trip ticket. If admitted for pleasure under this program the INS will write WT in your passport. If admitted for business under this program the INS will write WB in your passport.

Aliens admitted to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program may be readmitted to the United States after a departure to Canada, Mexico, or an adjacent island (such as the Bahamas, Barbados, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Saint Martin) for the balance of his or her original 90 day period of admission.

Aliens admitted to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program are not entitled to extend their time in the United States (unless there is a severe medical emergency not exceeding 30 days), and are not entitled to change their status to another nonimmgrant status, such as F student, H professional worker, or L multinational manager/executive.

WARNING: Do not abuse the visa waiver program. Each time you enter the United States the INS could refuse your admission into the US on grounds that you have immigrant intent. Frequent trips of short duration are allowed. On the other hand, you could experience problems if you have been in the US for long periods back to back. If you have concerns that you may be denied admission with the visa waiver program due to extensive travel to the United States, you should discuss this matter with the U.S. Embassy. If you are denied admission into the United States under the visa waiver program you will be sent home on the next plane back to Japan. If the next plane is the next morning you could be detained at an INS detention center overnight.

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B-1/2 PROCEDURE & DOCUMENT CHECKLIST


step 1. VISA APPLICATION AT US EMBASSY / CONSULATE
  1. Complete a nonimmigrant visa application Form OF-156 for the applicant.

  2. Obtain one passport-size photo (37 mm x 37 mm) of the applicant

  3. Pay the $45 "MRV" fee. This fee is payable in yen to the "U.S. Embassy Visa Application Fee," Touza account 3151583 of the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi, Shin-Akasaka branch. The fee may be paid at any Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi branch in Japan at no charge to the visa applicant. Attach the original payment receipt to the visa application.

  4. Write a letter in English describing what you will be doing in the United States and why it may take more than 90 days, the time authorized by the Visa Waiver Program.

  5. Submit proof that you can financially support yourself without working illegally in the US.

  6. Obtain a valid passport.

  7. Once you obtain the above documents, submit the application and supporting documents to the Embassy using (a) a travel agent, (b) the special drop box at the front gate of the Embassy, or (c) mail the application to the Embassy and address it to "VISAS BY MAIL." Include a self-addressed envelope with sufficient postage so that the passport can be mailed back to you for options (b) and (c).

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RELATED LIGHTHOUSE ARTICLES


(#72-01/16/98)
Can I enter the U.S. every 3 months as a visa waiver?

(#94-01/01/1999)
New Rules of Nonimmigrant Visa Application

(#123-03/16/2000)
Reasons to Apply for a Tourist Visa vs. Reasons to Use Visa Waiver

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