Business Travel, Business Immigration and Visas
Visas for Business Visitors
Generally, a citizen of a foreign country who wishes to enter the United States must first obtain a visa, either a nonimmigrant visa for temporary stay, or an immigrant visa for permanent residence. The visa allows a foreign citizen, to travel to the United States port-of entry and request permission of the U.S. immigration inspector to enter the U.S.
The “visitor” visa is a nonimmigrant visa for persons desiring to enter the United States temporarily for business (B-1), for pleasure or medical treatment (B-2), or combination of both (B-1/B-2) purposes.
Business Visitor Visas (B-1) – For example, if the purpose for your planned travel is to consult with business associates, travel for a scientific, educational, professional or business convention, or conference on specific dates, settle an estate, or negotiate a contract, then a business visitor visa (B-1) would be the appropriate type of visa for your travel. After reviewing this website information, should you need additional information about business related (B-1) visitor visas; select Business Travel to the United States – What Type of U.S. Visa Will You Need.
Personal or Domestic Employees: Under immigration law, visitor visas are limited to the following circumstances, for personal or domestic employee purposes of travel to the U.S. A visitor (B-1) visa is appropriate when all eligibility requirements are met, for a personal or domestic employee who accompanies or follow to join: 1) A U.S. citizen employer having a permanent home or is stationed in a foreign country, who is visiting or is assigned to the United States temporarily; OR 2) A foreign citizen employer in the United States in B, E, F, H, I, J, L, M, O, P, or Q nonimmigrant visa status.
Important Notice: Recent changes to U.S. law relate to the legal rights of employment-based nonimmigrants under Federal immigration, labor, and employment laws. As a personal or domestic employee seeking to come to the U.S. temporarily (on a B-1 Visitor Visa), before your interview, it is important that you review the Nonimmigrant Rights, Protections and Resources pamphlet on our webpage.
Pleasure, Tourism, Medical Treatment – Visitor Visas (B-2) – As examples, if the purpose of your planned travel is recreational in nature, including tourism, vacation (holiday), amusement, visits with friends or relatives, rest, medical treatment, activities of a fraternal, social, or service nature, and participation by amateurs, who will receive no remuneration, in musical, sports and similar events or contests, then a visitor visa (B-2) would be the appropriate type of visa for your travel. If you are going to the U.S. primarily for tourism, but want to take a short course of study which is recreational (and not for credit towards a degree), and the course is less than 18 hours per week, this is permitted on a visitor visa. As an example, if you are taking a vacation to the U.S., and during this vacation you would like to take a two-day cooking class for your enjoyment, and there is no credit earned, then this would be permitted on a visitor visa. A consular officer will determine the visa category you will need based on the purpose of your travel, and your supporting documentation.
Business travelers may enter the United States using a B1, or ‘Visitor for Business’ Visa. In practice these visas are invariably issued as jointly with B2, or ‘Visitor for Pleasure’ (i.e. Tourist) visa. This practice means that, if a candidate has an old tourist visa, it may be valid for a planned business trip. For those who come under the visa-waiver scheme, details of which are provided below, there is usually no need to apply for a visit visa at all if the candidate wishes to visit the US for three months or less.
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.
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.
The B1 in lieu of an H1B
In certain, limited circumstances the US Consulate may issue an employment-authorized B1 visa where the work to be undertaken would usually require an H1B visa. This provision is particularly applicable to situations where you may need a non-US company to send a member of staff to the US for a limited period in order to undertake specific projects for you, or where you wish to bring in an employee of an overseas subsidiary, affiliate or parent for a limited period. The requirements for acquiring a B1 in lieu of H1B are:-
- The work to be undertaken in the US must be H1B level – i.e. the worker must be engaged in a ‘speciality occupation’;
- The worker must permanently employed (i.e. not a contractor) and paid by the employer outside the US;
- The worker may receive no compensation other than expenses from a US source;
- The worker must have a degree relevant to the services to be provided– there is no provision for work experience to be considered equivalent to adegree, as there is under the H1B.
The B1 in lieu of H-1 visa generally takes 1 to 2 weeks to obtain, and considerably more supporting documentation is required than for a normal B1 visa. Periods of admission and extension are the same as for the standard B1 visa (i.e. generally 6 months).
If the necessary conditions are satisfied then the applicant can apply for a visa. If you would like to find out if you qualify, you may fill out our US visa assessment form.
It should be noted that in rare circumstances, holders of this visa encounters problems when trying to enter the US.
This is because while it is issued by a US Consulate or Embassy, it has not been formally recognized by US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). For more information, please contact a member of our staff.