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I got a B1/B2 visa earlier this year when I traveled to the US for a business trip from my company.
It expires in 2013 and I'd love to visit the United States again, but for no other purpose than traveling.

I wonder:

  • If I can legally travel to US with B1/B2 visa without a real business need (assuming I'm honest);
  • If I have to work at my current company to be able to use it.

I live in Russia.

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Regarding whether you have to work at the same company, see this question: travel.stackexchange.com/questions/11658/… –  Jonik Jan 19 '13 at 19:13

3 Answers 3

up vote 13 down vote accepted

Yes you can, my wife recently applied for a tourist visa so she selected the B2 category, but when she eventually got the visa, it was a B1/B2 visa. The way its worded, it seems you can only use B2 for personal travel, but thats not the case.

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This is a simple one to answer.

B2 is tourist. B1 is business.

So if you have B1/B2 stamped in your passport you have visas for both purposes.

You can do either or both, perfectly legally.

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When issuing visas, countries have different levels of concern about three different types of people entering the country. In ASCENDING order, they are:

  1. Tourists: Low level of concern. They've come to the host country to "have fun" (and spend money).

  2. Traveling businessmen/women. Here, there is some concern because they are "working." But if they are based, employed, and paid OUTSIDE the host country, they probably won't be staying long or taking jobs opportunities away from the locals. More like creating local opportunities, by exploring the possibility of a "deal."

  3. Workers remaining inside the host country for an indefinite period of time, being paid "locally," by a "local" firm. These are the people a country is most concerned about, taking jobs away from locals.

Although it's possible, I have yet to hear of a country that is more concerned about tourists than they are about "businesspeople." A business visa would cover business purposes, and also lower levels of concern such as tourism.

The reverse is not true. A person with with a tourist visa will seldom have the rights conferred by a business visa, which covers a higher level of concern.

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1  
Saudi Arabia lets some people come to work but doesn't have tourism. (Please yell at me if that's totally wrong) –  hippietrail Sep 22 '11 at 21:21
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@hippietrail: Saudi Arabia would be a "special case." Always the possibility for the "odd" exception. It's a country that has too many "tourists" (its citizens in OTHER countries, that is), and not enough workers. –  Tom Au Sep 22 '11 at 21:24
    
Since there's an exception to every rule, if it doesn't have an exception it's not a rule. Now that we've found the exception we know it must be a rule! QED (-; –  hippietrail Sep 22 '11 at 21:27
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You may be correct in general. However, logic and U.S. immigration policy do not mix well. Getting a business or student visa for the U.S. is usually easier than getting the tourist visa. –  dbkk Sep 23 '11 at 9:16

protected by Ankur Banerjee Jan 19 '13 at 23:43

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