WHAT IS A B-1 AND B-2?
The B-1 status is for a visitor coming temporarily to the United States for short term business. The B-2 status is generally for pleasure or medical treatment. Visitors may use the B-1 visa for brief stays, usually less than six months, to participate in scientific, educational, professional or business conventions, conferences, or seminars.
WHAT IS THE VISA WAIVER PROGRAM?
The Visa Waiver Program (VWP) enables most citizens or nationals of certain countries to travel to the United States for tourism or business for stays of 90 days or less without first obtaining a visa stamp at a US consulate or embassy.
If you enter the US on the VWP, all the rules of entering the US as a B-1 or B-2 apply to you.
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PERMITTED VWP ACTIVITIES
- Business activities:
- Consult with business associates
- Attend a scientific, educational, professional, or business convention or conference
- Attend short-term training (you may not be paid by any source in the United States with the exception of expenses incidental to your stay)
- Negotiate a contract
- Vacation (holiday)
- Visit with friends or relatives
- Medical treatment
- Participation in social events hosted by fraternal, social, or service organizations
- Participation by amateurs in musical, sports, or similar events or contests, if not being paid for participating
- Enrollment in a short recreational course of study, not for credit toward a degree (for example, a two-day cooking class while on vacation)
NON-PERMITTED VWP ACTIVITIES
- The following activities are NOT permitted on the VWP:
- study, for credit
- work as foreign press, radio, film, journalists, or other information media
- apply for permanent residence in the United States
HOW LONG CAN I REMAIN IN THE U.S. ON VWP?
You can remain in the U.S. for 1 day up until a maximum of 90 days. If you plan to visit for longer than 90 days, you must obtain B-1/B-2 visa stamp to enter the U.S .If you are permitted to enter the U.S. on the VWP, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will note your status as WB and/or WT (waiver for business; waiver for tourism).
WHO IS ELIGIBLE?
Citizens or nationals of the following countries are currently eligible to travel to the United States under the VWP. See exceptions in next section.
- Czech Republic
- New Zealand
- San Marino
- South Korea
- United Kingdom**
**To be eligible to travel under the VWP, British citizens must have the unrestricted right of permanent abode in England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, the Channel Islands, and the Isle of Man.
NOTE: This list was last updated on November 15, 2023. For the most up-to-date list, please visit the U.S. Department of State website: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/us-visas/tourism-visit/visa-waiver-program.html
WHO IS NOT ELIGIBLE?
Recently, there were changes to the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) that establish new eligibility requirements for travel under the VWP. These new eligibility requirements do not prohibit travel to the United States. Instead, a traveler who does not meet the requirements must first obtain a visa stamp for travel to the United States, which generally includes an in-person interview at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate.
Travelers in the following categories are no longer eligible to travel or be admitted to the United States under the VWP:
- Nationals of VWP countries who have traveled to or been present in Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, or Yemen on or after March 1, 2011 (with limited exceptions for travel for diplomatic or military purposes in the service of a VWP country).
- Nationals of VWP countries who have traveled to or been present in Cuba on or after January 12, 2021 (with limited exceptions for travel for diplomatic or military purposes in the service of a VWP country).
- Nationals of VWP countries who are also nationals of Cuba, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Iran, Iraq, Sudan, or Syria.
There is no dependent status for the VWP. All visitors wishing to travel on the VWP, must be eligible and apply for the VWP separately.
VWP do not have a grace period for entry and departure to the U.S. VWP visitors are given an exact date by which they must leave the U.S.
HOW DO I REQUEST VWP STATUS?
There are several steps to apply for the VWP. The order of these steps and how you complete them may vary at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you apply. Please consult the instructions available on the U.S. Embassy or Consulate website where you will apply.
In order to travel without a visa on the VWP, you must have authorization through ESTA prior to boarding a U.S. bound air or sea carrier. ESTA is the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) automated web-based system to determine eligibility to travel without a visa to the United States for tourism or business. Visit the ESTA webpage on the CBP website for more information.