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B Visitors for Business or Pleasure


The B is a nonimmigrant visa for persons desiring to enter the U.S. temporarily for business (B-1) or pleasure (B-2). Nationals of certain countries are also eligible to enter temporarily for business or pleasure under the Visa Waiver Program. In general, ISO cannot advise on B-1, B-2, or Visa Waiver applications or travel; this information is provided as a courtesy.

Restrictions on Work and Payments

Travelers entering the U.S. in B-1, B-2, WB (equivalent to B-1), and WT (equivalent to B-2) status are not permitted to engage in employment of any kind. However, certain honorarium payments and reimbursements for reasonable and incidental expenses are permissible, provided all the following conditions are met:

  • The visitor is performing an academic activity for the benefit of the UW.
  • The activity being compensated is performed within 9 days.
  • The individual has not accepted honorarium payment or reimbursement for qualifying activities from more than five institutions in the previous 6-month period.

UW departments are encouraged to contact Global Operations Support for further guidance and instructions.

B-1 Visitors for “Business”

The B-1 visa permits persons to come to the U.S. for short-term, temporary professional activities related to their employment abroad, for example:

  • consulting with peers
  • participating in conferences or seminars
  • lecturing or speaking
  • training
  • independent research that provides no benefit to a U.S. institution

B-1 status does not allow collaborative research or work for pay at UW.

B-2 Visitors for “Pleasure”

The B-2 visa permits persons to come to the U.S. for recreational activities or to receive medical treatment. Cohabitating partners and extended family members (e.g., elderly parents) who are ineligible for dependent status on other visas (e.g., H-4, J-2) may qualify for a B-2 visa.

Acquiring B Status

B status is acquired in 1 of 2 ways:

  • Applying for a B visa at a U.S. consulate (Canadian citizens are exempt from the visa requirement) and then being admitted to the U.S. in B status by a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer. B-1 or B-2 visitors can be admitted for up to 6 months at a time, at the discretion of the CBP officer at the port of entry.
  • Applying to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for a change to B status from another nonimmigrant status if already in the U.S. using Form I-539 Application to Change or Extend Status

Once in the U.S. in B status, visitors can apply to USCIS to extend their status using Form I-539. ISO cannot advise on the filing of form I-539; visitors are encouraged to consult the USCIS homepage and a private immigration attorney, as appropriate, before filing this form.

Visa Waiver Program

The Visa Waiver Program (VWP) enables citizens of participating countries to travel to the U.S. for business or tourism for 90 days without obtaining a B-1 or B-2 visa. Those entering for business purposes will receive an entry stamp and I-94 record listing WB status and those entering for tourism will receive an entry stamp and I-94 record listing WT status.

All nonimmigrants traveling to the U.S. via air or sea under the VWP must apply for travel authorization through CBP’s Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA).