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B-1 Business Visitor

B-2 Visitor For Pleasure Visa

Business travelers may enter the United States using a B-1 ‘Visitor for Business’ Visa. Typically these visas are issued as joint B-1 business visit visa and B-2  ‘Visitor for Pleasure’ (i.e. Tourist) visa. This practice means that, if you have an old B-1/B-2 visa originally issued for a tourist trip, it may be valid for a planned business trip.

If you are a national of a Country that comes under the B-1/B-2 Visa- waiver scheme for visits to the US for ninety days or less you should probably apply online using ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization). This avoids the necessity of applying for a B-1/B-2 visit visa at the US Embassy in person.

B-1 Business Visitor Eligible Activities

While in the US as a business visitor, an individual may:

  • Conduct Negotiations
  • Solicit sales or investment
  • Discuss planned investment or purchases.
  • Make investments or purchases
  • Attend Meetings, and participate in them fully.
  • Interview and hire staff.
  • Conduct research.

B-1 Business Visitor Ineligible Activities

The following activities require a working visa, and may not be carried out by business visitors:

  • Running a business.
  • “Gainful employment”.
  • Payment by an organization within the US.
  • Participating as a professional in entertainment or sporting events.

Obviously there is a considerable ‘gray area’ in between what definitely is allowed and what definitely isn’t. It is advisable to err on the side of caution when bringing overseas persons into the USA on business visitor visas. However, in certain strictly limited cases, paid employment may be possible using a US H-1 B Visa.

Eligibility Criteria

You must demonstrate the following in order to be eligible to obtain a B-1 visa:

  • The purpose of your trip is to enter the United States for business of a legitimate nature
  • You plan to remain for a specific limited period of time
  • You have the funds to cover the expenses of the trip and your stay in the United States
  • You have a residence outside the United States in which you have no intention of abandoning, as well as other binding ties which will ensure your return abroad at the end of the visit
  • You are otherwise admissible to the United States

    Family of B-1 Visa Holders

    Your spouse and children are not eligible to obtain a dependent visa. Each of your dependents who will be accompanying or following to join you must apply separately for a B-2 visa and must follow the regulations for that visa.

    Period of Stay/Extension of Stay

     Initial Period of Stay  Extension of Stay
    1 to 6 months; 6 months is the maximum Up to 6 months; maximum total amount of time permitted in B-1 status on any one trip is generally 1 year.

    At the port of entry, an immigration official must authorize your admission to the United States, and, if you are eligible for admission, you may be admitted initially for the period necessary to carry out your business activities, up to a maximum period of 1 year.  If you who wish to stay beyond the time indicated on the Form I-94 without departing from the United States, you must file Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status and submit any required supporting documents to USCIS.

 

Applications

US Visitor Visas should generally be applied for in a country of which the candidate is a Citizen or permanent resident. Applications made in other countries often run a high risk of being turned down. The most common reason for refusal of B1/B2 visas is the applicant showing insufficient evidence of social, family or economic ties to his/her country of residence that would ensure that s/he would return there following the visit to the USA.

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