B-1/B-2 Visitors

Individuals may decide to personally pursue the B Visitor visa or Visa Waiver Program if they demonstrate that they meet United States State Department regulations. However, the B Visitor visa and Visa Waiver Program category is a personal, rather than University-sponsored, category such as the J visa. Therefore, the success and outcome of travel under the B Visitor visa is more uncertain.

For instance, if United States Customs and Border Protection, in its discretion, deems that the intended visit is for research, work or study, warranting a different visa type (such as a J-1 Exchange Visitor visa, H-1B Temporary Worker visa, or an F-1 Student visa), then entry into the U.S. may be denied. For assistance with work- or research-related categories, contact the WMU immigration officer in Immigration Compliance at (269) 387-5865.

For general guidance on which category is most appropriate, review the Business Travel to the United States chart.

Important notes

B Visitors and Visa Waiver Program recipients are ineligible to study in the U.S. For more information, see the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services' special instructions for B-1/B-2 Visitors who want to enroll in school.

Western Michigan University departments and colleges are advised to consult with the research compliance coordinator in the WMU Office of the Vice President for Research before issuing a formal or written invitation to a prospective international visitor to ensure compliance with regulations, as individuals visiting the University on visitor visas must still follow WMU export control procedures. Contact the WMU Office of the Vice President for Research at (269) 387-8293 or research-compliance@wmich.edu.

Note for Chinese NationalsEVUS is the online system used by nationals of China holding a 10-year B1/B2, B1 or B2 (visitor) visa periodically to update basic biographic information to facilitate their travel to the United States. In addition to a valid visa, such travelers will be required to complete an EVUS enrollment to be admitted into the United States.

Visa Waiver Program

The Visa Waiver Program enables citizens of participating countries to travel to the U.S. for tourism or business and allows qualified travelers to enter the U.S. visa-free if they meet the following conditions:

  • They have received an authorization to travel under the Visa Waiver Program through the Electronic System for Travel Authorization.
  • They are traveling for business or pleasure and have a valid passport issued by a participating Visa Waiver Program country. Passports must be valid for six months beyond the expected stay in the U.S. unless country-specific agreements provide exemptions. Visa Waiver Program travelers will be required to present biometric passports when entering under the program.
  • They will stay in the U.S. for 90 days or less; no extensions or changing status allowed.
  • They demonstrate sufficient funds to support themselves while in the U.S.
  • They enter the U.S. via a land border or aboard an approved carrier.
  • They have an onward or return ticket if traveling by air or sea.
  • They have no visa ineligibility and are a national of the Visa Waiver Program country.
  • They must agree to waive the right to review or appeal an immigration officer's admissibility decision and waive the right to challenge removal.
  • They must not pose a safety threat to the U.S. and have no previous violation of U.S. admission. 

For more information, visit the U.S. Department of State's Visa Waiver Program website.

General information for activities and honoraria

Tourist and business visitors in B-1, B-2 or Visa Waiver Program status are eligible to receive honoraria and reimbursement of incidental expenses through the American Competitiveness and Workforce Improvement Act.

Only colleges, universities, nonprofit research organizations and governmental research agencies are allowed to pay honoraria and incidental expenses. An honoraria is payable only if both of the following apply:

  1. The duration of the activity is nine days or less.
  2. The visitor has not been paid or reimbursed by more than five other institutions during the past six months.

An honorarium is a gratuitous payment for participation in a usual academic activity for which no fee is legally required; an honorarium may be of any dollar amount.

Usual academic activity is defined as those activities for the benefit of the institution that include, but are not limited to: lecturing; teaching; consulting; conducting research; attending meetings, symposiums or seminars; or otherwise sharing knowledge, experience or skills in master classes, readings and performances (when the audience is composed of non-paying students or open to the general public and general admission tickets to the public have not been sold), and meetings of boards, committees or merit review panels. The rule precludes the sale of tickets for usual academic activity, and states that in such circumstances the foreign national would need to avail him or herself of another visa category.

Associated incidental expense reimbursements or payments for travel costs, lodging, meals, uniforms and supplies are allowed.

Refer to Carol LaLonde, WMU Assistant Director of Corporate Reporting and Taxation, at carol.lalonde@wmich.edu for information on procedures and eligibility to receive payments from WMU.