Guide to the B Visa in the United States

Updated on August 14, 2023
At a Glance: B1 visas are for temporary travel to the US for business purposes, while B2 visas are for pleasure, tourism, or visiting US residents. A combined B1/B2 visa allows travel for both business and pleasure. The specific restrictions and requirements for each visa can be found in the visa’s annotation section. When traveling with a different company, carry employment-related documents, proof of business travel, and other required documents. It’s important to be prepared and follow the checklist to avoid issues at the US port of entry. Additional considerations include insurance, visitor visa extension, and entry limitations.

You have a B1 visa but it isn’t exactly the visa it used to be. What I mean is that you have a B1 or a B1/B2 business visa from a company you used to be employed at. Although the company no longer employs you, the visa is still there: flashing an expiration date you might want to take advantage of for your travel to the United States.

You’re probably wondering if the visa is still valid and if it can be used for travel to the US. You may also worry about restrictions and limitations now that you are not employed at the company that sponsored you for the visa. This article will explain exactly what has this type of visa means for your travel concerns to the US and will outline what to expect at any POE with this kind of visa.

Before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s make sure we understand what these kinds of visas are and what they allow a visa holder to do.

What are B1 and B2 Visas?

B1 Visas

B1 visas are visas issued for temporary travel to the US for business purposes only. These are short-term visas, typically lasting about 6 months.

For more in-depth info on the B1 visa, check out our complete guide to the B1 visa.

B2 Visas

B2 visas are issued to travel to the US for pleasure or tourism, including other miscellaneous uses like visas for parents of US residents visiting the country. These also last 6 months.

To learn more about B2 visas, visit our guide to the B2 visa.

What’s a combined B1/B2 Visa?

Combined B1/B2 Visas

The B1/B2 visa generally happens when someone applies for a B1 visa for business, and the US consulate goes ahead and stamps it as a B1/B2 visa. This gives you the option to travel to the US for business or for pleasure.

For more information on these visa types, check out this link: US Travel.Gov — B-1, B-2 Visa.

How does a B1 or a B1/B2 Visa Work?

This answer depends on how the B1 Visa was stamped in your passport. There is a small section in the US visa called Annotation that lets you know the restrictions of the visa you have been issued (image below for reference). If there is no company name in this section, nor are there any other restrictions mentioned, then the good news is that you can freely travel to the US under a different company name.

For instance, let’s say you worked for Company A and they applied for your B1 visa in your passport but nothing is mentioned in the Annotation section. In this case, the B1 visa is tied to you and not to a company, which means you are free to use the visa to travel to the US under another company name. There are no restrictions in this case.

However, if there is a company name listed in the annotation section, or there are other restrictions mentioned, then you cannot use the B1 or B1/B2 visa to travel to the US. You would have to apply for a new B1 visa with the current company that employs you.

You must be aware of the restrictions listed in the annotation section of your visa in order to make the right travel decisions.

In the next section, the documents required at any POE are outlined so you know what you are expected to show when entering the United States.

What Documents Do I Need to Carry for B1 or B1/B2 Visas When I Am Working with a Different Company?

Regardless of which company you work for now, you will need to carry your employment-related documents and proof of your current business travel.

Below we provide a list of the typical B1 Visa travel documents required at a US POE. Make sure you have these with you when entering the United States! (DO NOT CHECK THESE DOCUMENTS IN YOUR LUGGAGE)

For a list of the general documents needed for a B visa, check out our guide to visitor visa sponsor documents.

Documents for B1 or B1/B2 visas when working with a different company:

  • Invitation letter from your business entity or employer in the US
  • Employment letter from current company
  • Business travel-related documents like:
    • Conference Invites, Agendas
    • Business Meeting Invites, Confirmations
    • Details of meeting minutes, etc.
    • Business Workshop-related invites, etc.
    • Company ID Card
    • Accommodation information
    • Travel itinerary with the return flight ticket
  • Current country of residence work visa details (if applicable)
  • Latest payment slips from current employer
  • Previous employer’s offer letter or proof of employment — when your B1 visa was processed (optional)

Some of the above documents seem unnecessary and exacerbated for a US POE. However, it is always best to err on the side of caution so that you do not run into any problems when you are traveling to the United States. Make sure you follow this comprehensive checklist to avoid issues at the next US port of entry.

Other B Visa Considerations

Once you arrive in the U.S. on a B1 or B2 visa, there are a number of other considerations you will need to make. Will you need insurance and what is the best visitor insurance? Or how many times can you enter the U.S. on a visitor visa? If you want to extend your B visa, what is the process for a visitor visa extension?

These are important questions, but armed with the correct information, they don’t have to be difficult.

Read More


We hope this article has been useful for you and that it has answered all your questions about using your B1 or B1/B2 visa to enter the United States for travel.

If you have any more questions or need any more assistance with visa issues, please let us know in the comment section down below! We are more than happy to help you resolve all your visa concerns.

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Frank Gogol

I’m a firm believer that information is the key to financial freedom. On the Stilt Blog, I write about the complex topics — like finance, immigration, and technology — to help immigrants make the most of their lives in the U.S. Our content and brand have been featured in Forbes, TechCrunch, VentureBeat, and more.