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- What is a B1/B2 Visa?
- B1/B2 Visa Duration of Stay
- What is the Difference Between B-1 and B-2 Visa?
- What is the Purpose of a B1/B2 visa?
- How Long is a B1/B2 Visa Valid for?
- How Many Times Can I Visit the US on a B1/B2 Visa?
- B1/B2 Visa Extension
- Can I Change Status from B1/B2 to Another Visa?
- What is the Processing Time for a US Visitor Visa?
- Can I Renew My Expired B1/B2 Visa in Nigeria?
- How Can IAS Help?
- Frequently Asked Questions
What is a B1/B2 Visa?
The B1/B2 Visa allows foreigners to visit the United States for a short period for business or tourism or for both purposes. Most US visas are officially categorised as immigrant visas (for permanent residence) or nonimmigrant visas (for temporary stay). The B1/B2 Visa is under the nonimmigrant categorisation, which means it is for short-term visits. If you are granted a B1/B2 Visa, you must not stay beyond the approved length for each of your visits to the US.
In 2023, the US immigration services increased B1/B2 visa validity for Nigerians from 24 months to 60 months. This validity extension means that successful applicants will not have to renew their Visitor Visa until 5 years after it was issued. Before the new change, a renewal was required every 2 years. Despite the extension, the application fee remains the same at USD160.
B1/B2 Visa Duration of Stay
The duration of stay for a B1/B2 Visa is not fixed and it varies widely among applicants. It is important to note that your visa validity period is not the same as the duration of your stay. Your duration of stay means how long you are allowed to stay in the US for each visit.
Duration of stay is usually determined by the purpose of travel for each visit, and it is recorded by the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer at your US port of entry on your Arrival/Departure Form I-94.
The initial maximum length of stay on a Visitor Visa for each stay is six months but it could be less for many applicants. At the port of entry, a CBP officer will review your case and decide how long you can stay.
However, if you need more time to complete your travel purpose, you may be granted an extension, which could be up to a year stay altogether.
What is the Difference Between B-1 and B-2 Visa?
B1 Visa: The B1 Visa allows people to enter the United States to conduct business-related engagements. If you are meeting with business associates in the US or attending other business events, the B1 is suitable for such purposes.
B2 Visa: Popularly known as the tourist visa, the B2 Visa is for people travelling to the US for tourism, social, and medical reasons.
Depending on your circumstances, you may be issued a B1/B2 Visa together, allowing you to carry out both business social activities during your visit.
Although the B1 and B2 Visas share similar processes and requirements, each has its own purposes and activities that you can undergo during your visit. It is important to understand what is permitted on your own specific visa and comply accordingly as a violation can lead to consequences and affect your chances of future travel to the US.
What is Permitted on a B1 Visa?
The following are examples of activities you can be involved with as a B1 Visa holder:
- Attend business, academic, or professionals conferences or conventions
- Negotiate a contract
- Have a business consultation
What is Permitted on a B1 Visa?
You may carry out the following activities as a B2 visa holder:
- Visit relatives and friends
- Undergo medical treatment
- Participate in unpaid amateur sports, musical, social or similar contests or events
- Engage in social activities hosted by social, fraternal, or fraternal organizations
- Enrol to study a short recreational course, such as a three-day cooking class. The course cannot be for credit toward a degree.
What is not Allowed on a B1/B2 Visa
You are not allowed to carry out the following on the B1/B2 Visa:
- Study a long-term course
- Arrive as a crew member on an aircraft or ship
- Engage in paid performance or perform before a paying audience
- Work as foreign press in film, print or broadcasting media
Partaking in the activities above requires different visas specifically designed for those purposes. Get in touch with us to find out which visa would be suitable for your intending travel purposes and find out how we can support you visiting the US.
How Long is a B1/B2 Visa Valid for?
B1/B2 visa validity period for Nigerians is 5 years, which longer than many other nations. The validity in general ranges from 1 month to 10 years, depending on the applicant’s country. Your visa validity will determine how long you can enter the United States with it before it expires. The period is determined by the reciprocity agreement between the United States and each country, as shown below:
|Country||How Long B1/B2 Visa is Valid for|
|China, Israel, india, the Philippine, and most countries in Europe and America||10 years|
|Papua New Guinea||1 month|
How Many Times Can I Visit the US on a B1/B2 Visa?
B1/B2 Visa is a multiple-entry visa, which means you can enter the United States with it as long as it remains valid. There is no specified limit to the number of times you can enter the US on a B1/B2 Visa and many people do travel multiple times a year with their visitor visa.
However, note that it is designed for occasional visits and should not be used as a means for continuous stay in the United States.
Each visit must be for a genuine purpose and you should leave upon the completion of that purpose. If border officers notice a pattern of unnecessary frequent visits on a B1/B2 visa, they may suspect you of misusing the visa and this could affect your chances of future visits.
It is also important to maintain adequate ties to your country. For instance, having a job, family or property in Nigeria is a good way of demonstrating strong connections with your home country and demonstrates you are not abusing the B1/B2 Visa purpose.
B1/B2 Visa Extension
It is possible for a B1/B2 Visa to be extended beyond the initial allowed period of stay. However, you must present convincing reasons and evidence if you are to get an extension beyond your initial allowed length of stay.
Your B1/B2 Visa extension application must be submitted to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) before the end of your initial granted period of stay. If you stay beyond the approved length, it will be counted as a violation of immigration rules and you may be removed from the US, banned from future entry, or both.
What are the requirements for extending your B1/B2 visa?
To apply for an extension, you must meet the following requirements:
- Entered the US lawfully
- Your B1/B2 visa is still valid (you cannot apply with an expired visa)
- Not violated any of the rules guiding your B1/B2 visa
- You have not committed any crimes that can make you ineligible for an extension
- Your passport remains valid and will be valid for the duration of your stay
USCIS recommends that you apply for an extension at least 45 days before the end of your authorised duration of stay. If your extension request is denied, you must leave the US before the end of the initial granted period.
We recommend seeking guidance from a reputable immigration expert such as IAS to help avoid errors and oversights that commonly lead to a B1/B2 visa extension application denial.
Can I Change Status from B1/B2 to Another Visa?
If your plan changes during your visit, you may be able to change your status to another US visa while still in the US on a B1/B2 Visa. Instances like marrying a US citizen, receiving an employment offer, or wanting to pursue a long-term study allow visitors to apply for a change of status.
You should submit an application to USCIS as soon as you determine that you need a change. You must continue to maintain your B1/B2 Visa obligations until you are notified that your change of status request has been approved. Just like an extension request, a change of status application must be submitted on time and you must not have violated any of your current visa rules.
If your duration of stay expires before a decision is made on your change of status application, you may continue to stay in the United States while awaiting the decision.
In most cases, USCIS does not initiate removal proceedings against a B1/B2 Visa holder with a pending change of status application. Even though your visa expired, this will not count against you as accruing unlawful presence in the US. However, if the application is denied, you may be asked to leave the US immediately.
What is the Processing Time for a US Visitor Visa?
The B1/B2 Visa processing time for Nigerians could be weeks or months depending on certain factors which include the backlog at the embassy or consulate andif you are required to attend an interview.
Interviews are generally not required for applicants between ages 0 and 13, as well as ages 80 and above.
Following an interview, it may take a few more weeks to receive your passport. You can check the website to know the current wait time under the “Appointment Wait Time” section. This section is updated regularly to reflect the changes in different embassies.
Keep in mind that the wait time is only applicable to those applying from that location. So, if you are applying outside Nigeria, you will have to follow the wait time that is applicable in that location.
Can I Renew My Expired B1/B2 Visa in Nigeria?
You can apply to renew your expired or about-to-expire B1/B2 visa from the US consulate in Lagos or the embassy in Abuja. The renewal does not require an interview and this makes it much faster than a fresh application process. Appointments are generally always available for renewal. However, it is important to check with the specific location you are applying from. Sometimes, the two offices have different wait times.
What are the Requirements for No-Interview B1/B2 Visa Renewal?
You may be eligible for a B1/B1 visa renewal interview waiver if meet the following conditions:
- Your previous visa was issued in Nigeria
- Are physically present in Nigeria
- Your previous visa expired within the last 4 years or will expire in the next 3 months
- Your previous visa was a multiple-entry visa, with full validity
- Have submitted all your passports covering the entire period since obtaining the previous visa and the passport with the most recent visa
- Have never accrued an authorised stay in the US or engaged in an unauthorized employment
- Do not have a record of conviction or arrest for any offence or crime in the US
As a temporary visa, B1/B2 Visa applicants must prove their “nonimmigrant intention”, that is not trying to reside permanently in the US. This requires thoroughness in filling your application and providing sufficient evidence.
At IAS, our experienced immigration lawyers understand the travel challenges peculiar to Nigerian applicants from our years of helping clients in the country. We will work closely with you to understand your specific travel purpose and ensure your application is tailored accordingly.
Last modified on October 24th, 2023 at 2:02 pm
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You can visit the US anytime you want as long as your visa and passport are still valid. However, for each visit, the CBP will check your last visit and if they notice you are visiting too often, this may raise suspicion of misusing your visa. Remember there aren’t specific rules on how often is too often. The most important thing is to prove that the purpose for each visit is genuine and ultimately requires your presence in the US, and is within the B1/B2 guidelines.
There is no limit to how long you can stay in the United States on a tourist visa. Depending on your purpose of travel, a CBP officer at the port of entry can give you a few weeks or several months. If you feel you need more time, you can always request an extension.
Parents can visit their children in the US using the B1/B2 Visa. They can stay for as long as it is allowed on their Form I-94. Just like every other traveller, the length of stay will be determined by their purpose of travel, and they can also apply for an extension if they need to stay for a longer period.