Visitor Classifications

There are four immigration classifications that allow entry to the U.S. as a visitor. Collectively, these four options are commonly referred to as “visitor status”:

  • B-1: visitor for business
  • B-2: visitor for tourism
  • WB: visa waiver for business
  • WT: visa waiver for tourism

If you plan to stay less than 90 days, and are eligible for visa waiver, this is an expedited entry process, requiring clearance through the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA). If your country of citizenship or the circumstances of your trip do not qualify for visa waiver, you need to be in possession of, or apply for, a B-1/B-2 visa at U.S. consulate prior to your U.S. entry.


An unpaid academic appointment at BU is typically required for visitor affiliations, including professionals coming to the US for short stays to participate in BU scientific, educational, or professional activities. This classification is also appropriate for BU-led seminars and conferences. Visitors entering the U.S. at the invitation of BU should request entry under either B-1 or WB, as appropriate.

Length of Permitted Stay

Persons in visitor status are granted legal admission to the U.S. for specific dates, as reflected on the I-94 or U.S. entry stamp. The maximum period of admission for B-1/B-2 is generally six months. The maximum period of admission for WB/WT is generally 90 days. There is no grace period for visitor status.


Visitor categories do not permit U.S. employment. However, an honorarium payment may be given for qualifying academic activities lasting no more than nine days. All visitors should check in with the ISSO upon arrival to confirm your arrival and BU appointment.

Prospective visitors are advised to consult with the ISSO prior to arrival in the U.S. to confirm whether a visitor classification is appropriate or whether entry in J-1 or another status is required.