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How to obtain a B-1 visitor visa

All citizens of foreign countries must obtain a visa in order to travel to California or the 49 other states through a national port of entry. If they are not traveling to the United States for pleasure, they will need to get what is called a B-1 visitor visa. These types of visas are to be used for such things as professional conferences, contract negotiations, or educational purposes.

If the business activities of a foreign citizen who travels to the United States takes 90 days or less, they may be able to come to this country without a B-1 visa. This exception is known as the Visa Waiver Program. In order for a foreign citizen to qualify for this program, they must be a citizen of one of 38 qualified countries. In addition, a foreign citizen must meet other requirements set forth by the U.S. Department of State.

U.S. immigration law assumes that all foreign citizens traveling to the United States have plans to immigrate, so a person applying for a B-1 visa must prove otherwise. A foreign citizen does this by demonstrating that they have the money to fund their temporary stay, a permanent residence in their home country, and a plan to stay in the United States for a limited period of time. To start the B-1 visa application, a person needs to apply at the embassy or consulate in their home country.

If people need help navigating the B-1 visa process, a California immigration attorney might be able to assist them. Such an attorney can tell a client what to expect from the process, help fill out forms and provide assistance in the event that the client's visa application is denied.

Source: US Department of State, "Business Visitor Visas (B-1) ", December 15, 2014

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  • American Immigration Lawyers Association
  • State Bar of California | California Board of Legal Specialization
  • Avvo
  • Orange County Bar Association
  • Irvine Chamber