What is the difference between WT and WB status? How do I enter the U.S. on the correct ESTA status?
If you are a citizen of a country that is part of the Visa Waiver Program, you can come to the United States without obtaining a visa from a U.S. Consulate. However, you must still apply for authorization to travel to the United States through the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (“ESTA”).
Please see our blog post about the ESTA applications here.
Our clients are often confused when they hear that they can either enter as a tourist or a business visitor on ESTA. Many people do not realize that they can enter as business visitors on ESTA as they think that the ESTA is just for tourists, but that is not correct.
WT - Tourist
WT means “temporary tourist visitor.” This means that you are entering the U.S. for the purposes of tourism, to visit family/friends, or for recreation.
After each and every entry in the U.S., you should check your I-94 status to make sure you were admitted to the U.S. under the correct ESTA category (WT or WB).
WB - Business
WB means “temporary business visitor.” This means that you are entering the U.S. to meet with business associates, attend a conference, or explore investment opportunities.
Again, after every entry in the U.S., you should check your I-94 status to make sure you were admitted to the U.S. under the correct category (WT or WB).
What activities am I allow to engage in while in the U.S. on ESTA as a business visitor?
When you are in the U.S. as a business visitor and you entered on ESTA, you are basically allowed to engage in all activities you could engage as a B-1 visa business visitor.
The activities include for example:
- Meeting with business associates;
- Interviewing employees;
- Exploring investment opportunities;
- Attending business events;
- Meeting with your employees.
Please see some additional activities you can do in the U.S. as a WB ESTA visitor; here you can read about activities permitted under a B-1, Business Visitor Visa. You can also read about it here.
Because you can be admitted either as a tourist or business visitor on your ESTA, it is very important that you clearly represent to the CBP officer when entering the U.S. why you are coming to the U.S.
Sometimes it happens that you are admitted under a wrong category.
It is your responsibility to check the I-94 after every entry in the U.S. and if your I-94 contains a mistake, you can ask the CBP office through which you entered the U.S. that your I-94 is corrected.
Please click here to find out whether you should submit an individual or group ESTA application when you are submitting ESTA applications for your family.
Please click here to find out whether you can set up an E-2 company on ESTA.
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