Unfortunately, many people confuse the term B1/B2 visa duration, which is why we would like to clear things up. The duration of a B1/B2 visa refers to the amount of time that the document allows you to stay in the United States for one entry. That is why it is also called maximum stay. We can tell you right from the start that the maximum of B1/B2 duration is one year. However, we say maximum because the duration can differ from case to case. It is the consular officer in charge of your case who decides for how long you can stay in the US.
Typically, the consular officer that interviews you will give you B1/B2 visa duration of 6 months. It is some sort of standard period for them. They believe that 6 months is more than enough to fulfill the purpose for which you are in the United States. Why only 6 months? Well, think about this. Since this is a B1/B2 visa we are talking about, you are not allowed to work during that time, and one of the requirements say that you must be able to support yourself during that time. It is easier to provide for yourself for 6 months rather than 12 without work, isn’t it?
Is it possible for me to extend my stay in the United States?
If you really need it, it is possible for you to get an extension to your B1/B2 visa, but there is a rule that states that your stay in the United States cannot exceed 1 year. So, if you are granted a duration length of 6 months, you can extend it with just another 6 months. However, you need to come up with a very good reason for the extension. You cannot stay for longer just because you feel like it. Plus, you need to be able to prove that you need to remain for longer.
There is one other thing you could do if you really need to stay for a longer period in the US. You could try to change the status of your visa. However, if that is your purpose from the start, then you need to mention this to the consular officer during your interview. But if you never had the intention of changing your visa’s status, you need to be able to prove that the reason for which you need the extension occurred while you were already in the United States. It is a bit tricky, but not impossible.
B1/B2 visa duration vs. validity
There seems to be some confusion between B1/B2 visa duration and validity. The two are entirely different, and you will see why. As we mentioned above, the duration refers to the amount of time you can stay in the US once you arrive. However, validity refers to the amount of time in which you are allowed to use the visa. We will demonstrate with an example. Let’s say that you B1/B2 visa duration is of 6 months, and it is valid until May 23rd, 2019. If you want, you can travel to the United States on May 22nd. Your visa is still valid. It will expire during your stay in the US, but that is beyond the point. It does not matter. What matters is that your stay in the US does not exceed 6 months. We cannot be any clearer than that.
The bottom line is that the general B1/B2 visa duration is of 6 months and cannot exceed one year. It can even be lower than 6 months. The decision is entirely in the consular officer’s hands.