Discover The Distinctive Features Of Tourist And Visitor Visas

When applying for a tourist visa, most travellers find it confusing due to its significant similarities with the visitor visa. Find out the distinctive features of tourist and visitor visas and why they are used interchangeably in some countries.

The Distinctive Features Of A Tourist And Visitors Visa

Tourist visas and visitor visas are also known as B-1 and B-2 visas. They are grouped under the category of visas known as non-immigrant visas and are different in some features such as duration and activity restrictions.

What Are Tourist Visas?

A tourist visa is a visa given to a traveller for tourism, vacation or medical purposes. It is also known as the B-2 visa. With this type of visa, the visitor is expected to be in the country, only for tourism and vacation and is not to exceed the time limit stamped on their visas.

What Are Visitor Visas?

A visitor visa also known as the B-1 visa allows the visitor to visit a country for business purposes. A visitor using a B-1 type of visa can attend seminars, conferences, take short courses and is expected to be in the country for only six months which is the stated timeline for visitor visas.

Nevertheless, they can both be used together to form the b1-b2 visas which grants the visitor entry into the country for business and leisure purposes.

The Distinctive Features Of A Tourist And Visitors Visa

Tourist and visitor visas are ranked together as temporary non-immigrant visas. They do not allow the traveller to stay long or reside permanently in the country. They both have a stipulated duration of stay and are to be granted mainly for visiting purposes. However, there are some distinctions between the tourist and visitor visa which are determined by the following:

The Purpose of The Visit

Both visas are different in terms of the purpose of the visit and the activities the visitor is restricted to. While a visitor visa is granted for business purposes and can be used to stay in the country for six months, the tourist visa grants entry for tourism, medical and vacation purposes.

A visitor visa allows the visitor to consult business organisations, attend business seminars, and conferences and explore business opportunities. It can also be used to attend short educational courses and to visit family and friends.

A visitor visa holder cannot engage in any employment opportunities. They can however change their visa to extend their duration and carry on a different purpose. This is distinct from the tourist visa which is restricted to only tourism, visiting and vacation activities.

The Country The Traveller is Visiting

Some countries use the tourist and the visitor’s visa interchangeably and do not recognise any distinction between them while others differentiate them and assign different stay durations to them.

Countries such as Australia draw a distinctive line between the two visas. They are issued according to the purpose of the visit. In the United Kingdom, a visit visa is used interchangeably and a traveller could use the visitor visa for leisure, business or vacation.

Countries also use the nature of the visit to assign the duration of stay for the holder. This is done in the United States where a customs and border protection officer will screen you on arrival and determine how long you can stay. The purpose of your visit influences this decision.


A visitor visa is broader than a tourist visa and the holder can be assigned a longer time than one with a tourist visa. But this depends on the nature of the visit as visitors on short business meetings and conferences are assigned shorter periods.

In conclusion, visitor and tourist visas are temporary visas and do not guarantee permanent residence in the country. They are distinguished by the nature of the visit and the activities the visitor can participate in. 

Also, the immigration policy of the country one is visiting determines the duration and the activities of a visit visa, and a traveller needs to find out the different immigration policies attached to a particular visa before applying for it.

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