Travel to the U.S. B1 or B2?

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What should incoming international clients answer when they are asked by immigration authorities why they are coming to the US?

First of all, they must tell the truth.

Second, the truthful answer depends on whether the client comes from a of VWP Designated Country (visa waiver Program country) or not. VWP countries are:

Andorra Hungary Norway
Australia Iceland Portugal
Austria Ireland San Marino
Belgium Italy Singapore
Brunei Japan Slovakia
Chile Latvia Slovenia
Czech Republic Liechtenstein South Korea
Denmark Lithuania Spain
Estonia Luxembourg Sweden
Finland Malta Switzerland
France Monaco Taiwan*
Germany Netherlands United Kingdom**
Greece New Zealand

Citizens or nationals of the above mentioned countries are currently eligible to travel to the United States under the VWP, unless citizens of one of these countries are also a national of Iraq, Iran, Syria, or Sudan.

Nationals from the VWP designated countries are eligible to enter the U.S. without a visa for 90 days. However, they have to complete the ESTA form beforehand. Two purposes are allowed (B1 for business reasons, B2 for pleasure and tourism purposes). Since most IPs are also in the U.S. to see the country and they do not attend consult with business associates, attend a scientific, educational, professional, business convention or conference or attend short-term training or negotiate a contract, they should state that are coming to the U.S. for pleasure (B2). Here they can honestly state that they come for tourism purposes, such as traveling and vacation time or visiting friends. It is always good for them to be able to show:

1) the return ticket,
2) their hotel or vacation home confirmation
3) the rental car and
4) maybe a layout of where they plan to travel or to stay
5) travelers checks
6) foreign ATM card
7) international driver’s license.

The immigration officials become more strict and they are permitted to question the intent of the foreigner because every foreigner who asks to enter the U.S. is presumed to be an immigrant with immigrant intent and this person has the burden of proof to show that they do not have immigrant intent.
Examples for evidence to proof that they do not have immigrant intent are: return ticket, rental car, rental vacation home or hotel, travel route, travelers checks, ATM card from the home country, driver’s license from the home country and the international driver’s license obtained in their home country. Germans should be able to present their German identification card (Personalausweis). Also, clients from certain countries, such as Germany have a lot of vacation and the answer is that they want to spend their vacation time in the U.S.

It is important that the purposes stated on the ESTA form and their statement on the border are consistent and the same and that the clients can state their specific return date. Therefore, they should always book a ticket with a specific return date.

Also, please remember, if your client has committed an offense, a crime or his or her previous visa has been revoked, they are no longer eligible for the VWP. If you need further information, please do not hesitate to contact us.