The most common purpose for foreigners to travel to the United States is business or tourism. These activities are categorized as B-1 visas for business and B-2 visas for tourism. There is also a combined B-1/B-2 visa for both business and pleasure. Please note that most Finnish Citizens traveling to the United States for B-1/B-2 purposes do NOT need a visa if they use the Visa Waiver Program. To learn more about visitor visas, please visit the State Department’s travel web page.
"Business" activities usually entail meetings and/or consultations with colleagues and business associates. Business activities can also include litigation, participation in scientific/educational/professional conventions, conferences, and/or seminars. Under certain circumstances, established au pair employees, volunteer service, and independent research can be undertaken on a B-1 visa.
"Tourist" activities are generally activities for personal leisure and recreation. Often people travel as tourists to sightsee, visit friends and relatives, and to be a spectator at American cultural events. Please note that applications to travel to the US to live with friends or relatives in order to get to know the culture and to learn English will be scrutinized under regulations, guidelines, and consular policies.
Applicants for visitor visas must show that they qualify under provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act. Applicants must demonstrate that they are properly classifiable as visitors under U.S. law. The presumption in the law is that every visitor visa applicant is an intending immigrant. Therefore, applicants for visitor visas must overcome this presumption by demonstrating that:
- The purpose of their trip is to enter the U.S. for business, pleasure, or medical treatment
- They plan to remain for a specific, limited time period
- They have funds to cover expenses in the United States (e.g. 3 months’ bank statements, salary records, etc)
- They have compelling social and economic ties to Finland
- They have a residence outside the U.S. that they will return to at the conclusion of their visit
Members of a particular religious or not-for-profit charitable organization going to the US to do unpaid work that benefits local communities may apply for a B-1 visa. A "voluntary service program" is an organized project conducted by a recognized religious or nonprofit charitable organization to provide assistance to the poor or the needy or to further a religious or charitable cause. The program may not, however, involve the selling of articles and/or the solicitation and acceptance of donations. The sponsoring organization must provide a written statement that includes the following information:
- Volunteer’s name, date of birth, and place of birth
- Volunteer’s foreign permanent residence address
- Name and address of initial destination in the United States
- Volunteer’s anticipated duration of assignment.
Applicants for visitors visas should follow the guidelines enumerated under the Application Requirements section of this website.
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