Visa Waiver Program and B Visa – Business Visitor
Visa Waiver Program (No Visa)
The Visa Waiver Program (VWP) enables eligible citizens of the below-listed countries to enter the U.S. for business or tourism, without obtaining a U.S. visa, and to stay up to a maximum period of 90 days, provided certain conditions are met. Nationals of VWP countries must meet all eligibility requirements to travel to the U.S. without a visa on the VWP. Therefore, some travelers from VWP countries may not be eligible to use the program and must apply for a visa. For complete information on the VWP and eligibility requirements, please refer to the U.S. Department of State’s website at https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/us-visas/tourism-visit/visa-waiver-program.html.
Currently, there are 38 participating countries in the Visa Waiver Program:
Andorra; Australia; Austria; Belgium; Brunei; Chile; Czech Republic; Denmark; Estonia; Finland; France; Germany; Greece; Hungary; Iceland; Ireland; Italy; Japan; Latvia; Liechtenstein; Lithuania; Luxembourg; Malta; Monaco; the Netherlands; New Zealand; Norway; Portugal; San Marino; Singapore; Slovakia; Slovenia; South Korea; Spain; Sweden; Switzerland; Taiwan; and United Kingdom.
Prior to travel to the U.S., VWP travelers must apply for and receive valid travel authorization through the Department of Homeland Security’s Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA). ESTA is an automated system used to determine the eligibility of visitors to travel to the U.S. under the VWP. Once granted, ESTA authorizations are generally valid for multiple entries into the U.S. over a period of two years or until the traveler’s passport expires, whichever comes first. Information on ESTA can be obtained by visiting the Department of Homeland Security Customs and Border Protection (CBP) website athttp://www.cbp.gov/ESTA.
The Arrival-Departure Record, Form I-94W, is no longer required for nonimmigrant visitors traveling under the VWP by air or sea and who have obtained a travel authorization via ESTA. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has transitioned to automated processing for VWP travelers with ESTA, making the use of Form I-94W unnecessary in the air and sea environments. Form I-94W will continue to be required at land borders and at some sea ports of entry.
If admitted with the automated process at a port of entry, the CBP officer will stamp the applicant’s passport with a U.S. admission stamp and annotate the passport with the class of admission “WT” (if admitted as a tourist) or “WB” (if admitted for business) and the date until which the applicant is admitted. Travelers’ departures from the United States are documented electronically.
Canadian citizens are typically not issued an I-94 card at entry, unless admitted in one of the employment-based categories noted below.
Individuals seeking entry under the VWP must have a return ticket and arrive on an approved air or sea carrier.
A person who enters in WB or WT status may not (a) extend his/her stay beyond 90 days; (b) change to any other visa status without leaving the country (or marrying a U.S. citizen); (c) receive any compensation from a U.S. source, other than certain WB business visitors who are eligible to receive reimbursement or a reasonable allowance to cover expenses during their stay.
B Visa – Business Visitor
Citizens of countries not listed above (other than Canada) must obtain B-1 visas in order to enter the U.S. for business or B-2 visas to enter as tourists or as dependent family members accompanying a B-1 business visitor.
Individuals who seek entry into the United States as a B-1 business visitor (and WB counterpart) are not authorized to engage in any productive work or employment on a U.S. payroll. Furthermore, the B-1/WB is not appropriate for those seeking to engage in active management of a U.S. enterprise.
Appropriate activities generally include the following: (a) engaging in commercial transactions which do not involve gainful employment in the U.S. (such as taking orders for goods manufactured abroad); (b) consulting with business associates; (c) participating in scientific, educational, professional or business conventions, conferences or seminars; (d) undertaking independent research; or (e) participating in litigation in a U.S. court. In addition, a B-1 nonimmigrant (and WB counterpart) may, in limited circumstances, perform certain services or receive training in the U.S., provided he or she remains on the payroll of a foreign employer and does not receive any form of compensation from a U.S. source.
Special Rules for Canadian and Mexican Business Visitors — The North American Free Trade Agreement authorizes Canadian business visitors to enter the U.S. in B-1 visa status without a visa and to engage in a broader range of activities than non-Canadians who enter in B-1 or WB visa status. Mexican citizens may also enter in B-1 status to engage in the same range of activities. They must, however, first obtain a B-1 visa from a U.S. embassy or consulate.