The B-1 visa is similar and is typically granted along with the B-2 (such that the visa in your passport will depict, “B-1/B-2”). The B-1 visa is for temporary visitors traveling to the U.S. for business purposes. However, “business” in the context of the B-1 does not mean “work,” as B-1 visa holders are not work authorized. The business activities covered under the B-1 category are activities such as attending a business or professional conference, meeting with potential clients for a foreign employer, etc. There is sometimes a fine line between those activities that constitute B-1 business activities, and those that constitute work. Working in the U.S. when you are not authorized is a serious immigration violation, and thus, it is important to consult with counsel if you are unsure whether your activities properly fall under the B-1 category.
The B-2 visa, referred to as the “tourist visa,” is for temporary visits to the U.S. for pleasure. You must apply for a B-2 visa at a foreign consulate or embassy, at which time you will have to demonstrate that you have ties to your home country that you do not intend to abandon. You are not permitted to work in the U.S. on a B-2 visa.
Some countries are permitted to come to the U.S. for pleasure or business without a visa.