NOTE: Before getting started with this interesting article, where I will explain How to Get a Business Visa to Travel to the US step by step, I must emphasize that you should be VERY careful with scams because scammers are always looking to obtain your personal information to take advantage of it. You never know what can happen once they have it in their hands...
Now, it must be said that there are many shady people posing as government officials or agencies that promise to manage your visa in a short period of time for a certain amount of money (usually quite large), as well as granting you other benefits such as the famous and desired Green Card "without going through any cumbersome paperwork". If you feel suspicious about something that seems too good to be true, the best thing you can do is getting advice directly with the consulate or embassy in your country and always do the paperwork by yourself. Forewarned is forearmed!
On the other hand, it is important to know that the United States is a country which considers immigration control as a priority, establishing different types of visas for those people who want to enter its territory, depending on their nationality.
There are international agreements that the US has established with certain countries to allow the entry of its citizens without any visa, such as Austria, Chile, Japan, New Zealand and many others. However, the permitted time to remain in the U.S. territory varies from one nation to the next.
This way, foreign citizens who actually need the precious document to visit this nation may be required an electronic visa (an authorization that is requested and received through the Internet), one issued upon arrival at the airport or one processed by the US embassy in the country of origin (must be requested before traveling).
The first thing you have to know before visiting this global superpower is that you will have to choose one of the most requested authorizations to get past the borders, whether land or air: either a business visa (B-1), a tourism visa (B-2) or a mix between both, which falls into the same category as the previous two. Nevertheless, the maximum time of stay that is granted depends finally on the consular officer or the embassy official.
However, the visa only applies for US Embassy approved activities, which include participation in short-term training programs (scientific congresses, business conferences, etc.), the settling of an estate or attending a business meeting, among others.
Before you make your application, you must ensure that the purpose of your trip is consistent with the rules established for this type of visa, without forgetting that there is a Visa Waiver Program for citizens of certain countries (as long as their stay is less than 90 days).
It is VERY important to know that for any type of "nonimmigrant" visa the most significant thing is to make it clear that you have strong ties with your country of origin (family, employment and housing), that is, the immigration officer should feel that your stay is temporary and you have no intentions to cheat the system by remaining in the United States past your stay in any way.
In addition, when you choose to enter the country by using this method, it is advisable that you have on hand all of the documentation and possible resources which allow you to prove that you will only travel for business; that you have the required funds to cover your travel expenses; and that you are not planning to study, work or do something outside the limits of this authorization.
On the other hand, you are allowed to make certain procedures such as renting an apartment, opening a bank account, requesting a driver's license and renting a car.
Now that I've introduced you to what this authorization is all about, I will now explain how to get a Business Visa to enter the US. It is worth stressing that for Americans ALL visitors are possible immigrants, so unfortunately we are guilty until proven otherwise.
Everything that you will find in this article can be verified on the official website of the US government that deals with consular matters, although the order of this sequence may change slightly from one consulate to another, as well as some details. Because of this, you should always check the website of the US consulate in your country of origin, besides obtaining more accurate information about your specific country.
First of all, you have to access the Travel.state.gov website and look for the visa section, and then enter the "Tourism & Visit" site, which will take you to the "Visitor Visa B" area. Here you will find the form known as DS-160, which you must complete VERY carefully.
After filling out this form correctly, you will receive a confirmation that has a ten-digit barcode. You will have to print this document. It is obligatory to take this printed form with you on the day of your interview with the consular officer, as well as having sent a digital photograph that meets the specifications required for this type of visa. These can be found on the official website.
For the next step, you must pay the fees corresponding to the visa appointment request, which is $160 USD; although there are charges or additional taxes (such as the issuance of the authorization) that may be added depending on the country of origin of the applicant.
It must be emphasized that this money will not be returned in any case, regardless of whether the visa was approved or rejected.
This payment is valid for one year, so you must schedule an appointment in a shorter time. The payment methods vary from one country to another, since in some it is paid electronically (through a bank transfer) or in cash, according to the banks that are in the country and the agreements between banking entities and consulates.
After paying this tax, you must schedule the appointment for your interview in the nearest consulate to your place of residence in your country of origin, although you are able to request it from another nation. However, this is a tougher option with a higher risk of rejection.
This interview is implemented for all people who apply for the visa, and the time you will wait for it to take place varies from one country to the next.
The preparation for the appointment is really important since a good preparation will increase your chances of success, for which it will help to have all the documents in order and in one folder.
Remember: that for consular officers, any excuse may be good enough for not approving the visa and if something seems remotely suspicious, they will deny you.
Although the citizens of some countries, such as Europeans, have a much easier time when requesting to enter and stay in the States, the fact is that people from all over the world can enter if they do things right according to the laws. Do not be discouraged!
This way, after paying the tax and making the appointment for the interview at the US consulate, it is essential that you bring your valid passport (which must have at least 6 months validity after finishing the date of your stay in this nation).
In addition to this, you have to bring the confirmation form that you previously filled (DS-160) with you, the proof of payment of the $160 fee and a photograph according to the specifications given on the website (to avoid any problem with the one you digitally sent or in case you couldn’t upload this picture to the system).
You could also be asked for other documents to prove that you will respect the length of your journey and that your stay in the United States will only be temporary (yes, this is indispensable).
You should take other documents with you demonstrating the intention of your trip (an invitation from a company located there, an email from a scientific congress, and other similar papers), which proves that you have the required funds to cover the expenses of your stay (bank references and/or recent financial statements, preferably of the last 6 months).
With these papers you must also prove that you have strong ties that bind you to your country of origin and you have every intention of returning to it as soon as the approved deadline is met (verification of employment or business plans in your country, real estate registered in your name, utility bills, documentation which states that you will return for your family, among several others). It is preferable that you bring the originals and copies of the documents with you.
Our first and most important recommendation - Try not to get nervous! After all, it is not a criminal trial, not by a long chalk. What will happen initially is that a consular officer will interview you, check if you meet the requirements to visit the US and approve the visa you have requested (or deny it, but you can still apply for it again).
Usually, they only take two or three minutes to make their decision, but they also register your fingerprints digitally (without ink). Sometimes the process may require a little more paperwork (administrative processes), so the waiting time to get your interview with the consulate officer could be a bit longer.
If everything went as you expected and your visa was approved (Congratulations!), it is likely that you will have to pay an additional tax for the issuance of the visa, but this will depend on your country of origin.
The duration of visa processing - that is, when you have your sealed passport back - will also depend on your nationality. However, this can be verified at the US consulate or embassy in your country.
Note: Remember to dress appropriately at the consulate or embassy (some people forget to).
It is extremely important that you don’t buy your airline ticket until they have approved and stamped the visa in your passport because if it is denied this will bring you some inconvenience and/or expenses which you could avoid if you wait to have your approval seal stamped.
On the other hand, it is strongly recommended that the departure from that country be made before the expiration date of your visa, with the exception of its revocation or cancellation prior to this date.
In case your passport is no longer valid and the visa has been stamped on a page of it, you must present both documents (the expired passport and the new one) with all your personal information identical. DO NOT tear out the page where the visa is placed.
If even following all this procedure your visa is denied by the admission officer, you can make a new application within a reasonable time, as long as you can demonstrate that the reason whereby it was denied the first time has changed.
It is important to note that the approval of the visa allows you, as a visitor, to travel to this North American nation; however, it does not assure you that you will be able to enter its territory (leave the port or airport).
At this point, we are assuming you have followed the rules and had the right mindset and cooperation for things to go well - in this case, the officers of the Customs and Border Protection Office (CBP) will give you a form known as I-94 or an admission stamp to register your entry to the United States, as well as your exit. That's it! You are now free to enter the United States!
I recommend you to take a look around the CBP website so that you know which items are prohibited and/or restricted for entry into the nation. In addition, you have to know what things you must declare at customs (such as the amount of money you are carrying with you if it is over $10,000 - not only in cash but in checks or other currencies, although not in credit or debit cards).
Otherwise, if you want or need to stay longer in the United States, it is necessary that you request an extension of your stay in advance and not letting that the term of the visa expires. Failing to do so may lead to deportation.
It is also possible that your plans change while you remain in this nation as a visitor, for example: if you receive an offer of employment or you have decided to get married to a US citizen.
In this case, you must do all of the legal paperwork related to this decision and make a request before the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS), by entering their website and following the instructions explained there. We recommend that you do this before your visa stay time has ended.
If you have any questions, I invite you to visit the websites that I have mentioned in this post and the US consulate or embassy website in your country. Now, you can contribute to us by answering the following...
Have you traveled to the United States using this visa?
Would you add something to this post?
Co-Founder. Lead Content Creator (Spanish). Licensed in Chemistry. Scientist by profession. Curious from birth. Traveler by passion. Writer by calling. In love with the very essence of existence and thrilled with the idea of helping others reach their dreams and fulfill their life's desires.