Entering the United States on a Visitor Visa
Visiting the United States
Every year, millions of people from all over the world visit the United States for pleasure, personal or business reasons. Generally, any applicant seeking to visit the United States must show that:
• The purpose of the trip is for temporary business or pleasure
• The visit is for a specific and limited period
• He/she has sufficient funds to cover expenses throughout the period of the visit
• He/she has sufficient ties to the home country to ensure departure at the end of the visit
Visa Waiver Program
Citizens of certain countries under the Visa Waiver Program do not need to apply for a visitor visa before coming to the United States. These individuals are permitted to enter the United States for up to ninety (90) days in B-1 or B-2 status. Click here to learn more about the Visa Waiver Program.
If the purpose of the visit is the following, the applicant will be admitted under B-2 status:
• Visiting friends or relatives
• Obtaining medical treatment
• Participating in social events hosted by fraternal, social, or service organizations
• Participating in musical, sports, or similar events or contests as amateurs, providing they are not being paid
• Enrolling in a short recreational course of study, not for credit toward a degree (for example, a one-day class on knitting at a community college)
If the purpose of the trip is one of the following, the applicant will be admitted under B-1 status:
• Consulting or meeting with business associates and colleagues
• Attending a conference or convention (scientific, educational, professional, or business)
• Settling an estate
• Negotiating a contract on behalf of a Canadian company of which the applicant is employed
Activities That Are Not Permitted Under B-1/B-2 Status
• Studying full or part-time at an educational institution
• Employment (self or for a U.S. employer)
• Paid performances or any professional performance before a paying audience
• Arriving as a crewmember on a ship or aircraft
• Working as foreign press, radio, film, journalists, and other information media
• Seeking permanent residence in the United States
Canadians Entering the United States for Business
Canadian citizens enjoy a special privilege when traveling to the United States for brief business purposes. First, unlike citizens of many other countries, Canadians do not need to apply for a visitor visa in order to enter the United States. Instead, Canadians can simply state the purpose of their visit to a Customs and Border Patrol officer at a Port of Entry (POE).
Canadian business visitors can enter the United States on a temporary basis to perform any of the following:
• Research and Design
• Growth, Manufacture and Production
• Sales: Sales representatives and agents taking orders or negotiating contracts for goods or services for an enterprise located in Canada, but not delivering or providing the goods or services, or buyers purchasing for an enterprise located in Canada
• After-Sales Service: This activity consists of installers, repair and maintenance personnel, and supervisors that have specialized knowledge essential to the seller’s contractual obligations, and who perform services or train workers to perform services (pursuant to a warranty or other service contract related to the sale of commercial or industrial equipment or machinery, including software, manufactured in Canada)
• General Service
General service includes professionals engaged in business activities under NAFTA, but not receiving salary or other payment from a U.S. source (although expense reimbursements are permitted).
Other general services include:
• Management and supervisory personnel involved in a commercial transaction for an enterprise located in Canada
• Financial services personnel (insurers, bankers or investment brokers) participating in commercial transactions for an enterprise located in Canada.
• Public relations and advertising personnel consulting with business associates, attending or participating in conventions
• Tourism personnel (tour and travel agents, tour guides or tour operators) attending or participating in conventions or conducting a tour that began in Canada
• Tour bus operators entering the U.S. or Mexico.
• Translators or interpreters performing services as employees of an enterprise located in Canada
How do I qualify as a NAFTA Business Visitor?
• Canadian citizen
• Seeking entry for one of the business purposes listed in the previous section
• The proposed business activity is international in scope
• Primary source of remuneration is outside of the U.S.
• The principal place of business, and the accrual of profits, is outside of the U.S.
• You meet the member country’s existing temporary entry immigration requirements