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How long can I stay in the U.S. on a B visa?

By January 13, 2021Immigration
Creative Commons photo by Wilerson S. Andrade - labeled for reuse. https://www.flickr.com/photos/will_spark/8603567984

The B-1 classification is available to foreign nationals who desire to enter the U.S. for short-term business activities. For B-1 purposes, engaging in business generally means business activities other than performance of skilled and unskilled labor that are a necessary incident to your business abroad, and the visa is not intended for obtaining and engaging in employment while in the United States.

B-2 visa is for temporary visitors who are coming to the U.S. for pleasure (to visit family, friends, for vacation, etc.).

The federal regulations state that you can come to the U.S. on a B visa for up to one year. However, generally the B-1 and B-2 visitors are admitted for 6 months at a time (as long as their passport is valid at least 6 months beyond the planned length of stay in the U.S.). After each entry, you should not assume that you were admitted for the full 6 months and you should check your passport entry stamp and check your I-94 to see what day you are allowed to stay in the U.S. until. If you stay in the U.S. past your I-94 date, it will have severe immigration consequences.

Please keep in mind that the CBP officer at the port of entry can limit your stay in the U.S. and can admit you for a shorter period of time (and this does happen often). For example, if you are coming to the U.S. as a B-1 business visitor and you have business meetings scheduled for only first 2 weeks after your entry but you are asking to be admitted for 6 months, the officer may be wondering what you plan to do in the U.S. for so long and he/she can limit your stay in the U.S. for example to 2 weeks/1 month/or for a shorter period of time than 6 months.

Additionally, if the officer sees that you have been coming to the U.S. on a B-1/B-2 visa for the past couple of yours and you have been spending significant time in the U.S., he/she can suspect that you work in the U.S. unauthorized, and can again limit your stay in the U.S.  Please note that if you own a company in the U.S. and you want to manage the company from within the U.S., an E-2 visa may be the perfect visa option for you.

Please see our blog post on whether you can do a “visa run” and re-enter the U.S. immediately after you have spent 180 days here on a B visa when you click here.

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