Most British, Irish and European country passport holders may enter the US for up to 90 days a trip for the purpose of business or tourism under the Visa Waiver Program. For information about how to obtain an Electronic System for Travel Authorization or an “ESTA” to travel visa-free under the Visa Waiver Program please refer to the US Customs and Border Protection website and the basic information about the Visa Waiver Program in the following paragraphs.
If you wish to apply for a B-1/B-2 Visitor visa and only require basic information regarding the requirements and procedures for this US visa, please contact your local US Embassy or Consulate. If you have a complex issue relating to traveling to the US, one of our US visa lawyers can provide advice.
In general, a person will need a B Visitor visa to enter the US if one of the following applies:
- You hold a passport from a country that does not participate in the US Visa Waiver Program, or
- You are a national of a Visa Waiver Program but you cannot enter the US because: 1) you have a criminal conviction for certain offences or are a drug abuser or addict, 2) you have violated US immigration law, 3) you have been refused entry into the US or 4) you have been denied travel authorization via ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization).
If you are a national of the Visa Waiver Program and are applying for a B Visitor visa and are not restricted from traveling under ESTA, you will be required to demonstrate to a Consular Officer that your proposed activity in the United States is solely for short business trips or tourism (ie that you do not intend to work in the USA), you have substantial ties to your home country and financial ability to support your trip to the United States. The personal interview at the embassy or consulate bears a lot of weight on the Consular Officer’s decision.
B Visitor Visa and E-2 Investors: Often, those who wish to travel to the US on a B Visitor visa to investigate the development or purchase of a business in the US that would serve as the basis of a future E-2 Treaty Investor visa application should travel to the US under the Visa Waiver Program as that period of 90 days per visit should provide ample amount of time to research businesses and markets in the United States. This is particularly true for B Visitor visa applicants applying at the Embassy in London or the US Consulate in Belfast.