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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.

20

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.

  • 1
    Almost everyone gets B1/B2 visas even if they applied for only one purpose. It's quite rare to have a only B1 or only B2 visa. – Michael Hampton Sep 5 '16 at 18:31
  • 2
    But it is the case. A B-2 visa is not valid for business travel. Someone who has applied for a B-2 visa can only use the resulting visa for business travel if, like your wife, the traveler was granted a dual-purpose B-1/B-2 visa. Similarly, someone with a B-1 (not dual B-1/B-2) visa, who can engage in tourism incidental to a business trip, cannot enter the US without a business purpose. – phoog Dec 5 '16 at 13:27
24

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.

  • This is a "visas for dummies" type of a question.. But does this mean that I can buy round tickets, pack my bags, and just go to US? Without going through any other process? – insanity Jul 25 '17 at 11:45
  • @insanity please ask your question using the ask question page. Thank you. – phoog Sep 14 '17 at 18:01
14

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.

  • 3
    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
  • @TomAu While this is a very useful answer, technically it does not answer the question (IMO), because you do not relate B1 and B2 to their purposes. Someone who has one (should) know which is which, but someone who is wanting to know, might not. And judging by the number of how-do-I and which-one questions related to visas we get, being slightly more specific in your answer can only be helpful. (perhaps adding [1. Tourists... (i.e. B1)] – CGCampbell Aug 30 '14 at 13:44
4

If

  1. you have M under Entries meaning a multiple entry visa. (This is missing from every other answer!)
  2. Expiration date is on or later than the date when you plan to present yourself at the border of the United States asking for admission (doesn't need to be valid during the trip only on the day of entry).
  3. Under Type/Class you have B1/B2.

then the answer is yes. All of these need to be met.

  • 1
    I wrote this answer for another question which was marked as a dupe of this one. So it is is bit more generic. – chx Sep 5 '16 at 14:06
  • @pnuts single-entry visas also have expiration dates after which they cannot be used. They are also invalid after being used, but someone who doesn't understand single-entry visas or doesn't realize the visa was issued for a single entry might incorrectly expect the visa to be valid between the time of use and the date of expiration. – phoog Sep 5 '16 at 23:02
  • @pnuts legal writing is generally in the business of splitting hairs. My basic point, however, is that inferring that the visa is for multiple entries because the asker reported the visa's expiration date is risky, even if the inference is probably correct. – phoog Sep 5 '16 at 23:14

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