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B-1/B-2 Visitor for Business/Pleasure

Overview and Eligibility

The B-1 Business and B-2 Tourist statuses allow visitors to enter the U.S. for up to six months for business or pleasure, with the possibility to extend the status for an additional six months.  Visitors entering in either of these statuses can neither engage in employment in the U.S. nor enroll in an academic study program. The U.S. Department of State expressly indicates that the B-1 may be used for "independent research."  We always recommend using the J-1 over the B-1, however, to avoid situations where persons may be denied the visa or entry to the U.S. and told instead that they should be coming in the J-1 classification, which we have seen happen.

Visitors in this status are permitted to change to another non-immigrant classification, provided they had no preconceived intent to do this prior to their entry in B status (or, if so, disclosed this intent to U.S. officials prior to their entry in B status).

  • B-1 status (Visitor for Business): An international visitor entering in B-1 status holds a permanent residence in a foreign country that he/she has no intention of abandoning, and who is visiting the U.S. temporarily for business, such as consulting with business associates; participating in scientific, educational, or professional conventions, conferences, or seminars; or undertaking independent research.  These must all be short-term, non-salaried academic activities. Persons in B-1 status may be reimbursed for reasonable business costs where UC San Diego has a business purpose (e.g., inviting an expert speaker to a conference) and, if their activity on campus lasts no longer than nine days from beginning to end of their activity, can be granted an honorarium, provided that they will be granted honoraria from no more than five institutions during their stay in the U.S.  The department's letter of invitation should indicate the types of activity that will be pursued, and these activities should correspond to those indicated as acceptable for the B-1 classification by the U.S. Dept. of State (see fact sheet).  If activities do not conform to those listed, the U.S. Dept. of State may require a different visa, such as a J-1 Exchange Visitor visa, in which case the department will need to go through the J-1 request procedure.  Note that the U.S. Dept. of State indicates the following about student training and B-1 status in notes to its Foreign Affairs Manual: "aliens, often students, who seek to gain practical experience through on-the-job training or clerkships must qualify under INA 101(a)(15)(H) or (L), or when an appropriate exchange visitors program exists (J)."  It is our experience that language using "internship" will be interpreted by the U.S. DOS as a program activity requiring J status.
  • B-2 status (Visitor for Pleasure): An international visitor entering in B-2 status has recreational intent, including tourism, amusement, visits with friends or relatives, rest, and activities of a social nature. In ALL cases, we recommend that departments invite visitors in B-1, rather than B-2, status.

Processing Time and Cost

Departments should issue a letter of invitation to the visitor (see template below).  The visitor will need to apply for a visa stamp abroad and make travel arrangements.

Note that Chinese nationals must also enroll in EVUS (Electronic Visa Update System) when planning to visit the U.S. using their B visa.


Template Letter

United States Consulate
(if known:  insert city and country)


U.S. Customs and Border Protection

To Whom It May Concern:

I am writing on behalf of Dr./Mr./Ms. _______________________________________.

I have invited Dr./Ms./Mr. to (choose one) attend a conference/give a presentation/for a short-term independent research project on the topic of ____________________ at the University of California, San Diego from _____________________ to _________________________.

Dr./Mr./Ms. _____________________ will not receive any salary or compensation for services from the University of California, San Diego during her/his stay in the U.S. (OR: Dr./Mr./Ms. will receive reimbursement for business expenses and/or an honorarium in the amount of ___________________). During his/her stay at UC San Diego s/he will be supported by _________________ (personal finances/employer abroad, etc.).

I request that Dr./Mr./Ms. _______________________________ be granted a (B-1) Visitor for Business visa and entry to the United States in B-1 status.

Thank you for your consideration.


Professor of _____________________________________

Register with ISEO

We highly encourage non-UC San Diego sponsored scholars to register with ISEO. Registration with ISEO is not required for B1/B2, however this allows ISEO to send programming, immigration, and other helpful information.


Notifying ISEO of the separation/departure of someone in B1/B2 status is not required. Submitting this departure form to ISEO indicates that the international scholar is ending their appointment/job at UCSD on the completion date selected.