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.
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
For information on applying for a B-1 visa, see the “Department of State” link to the right.
Aliens seeking a B-1 visa from certain countries may be able to enter the United States without a visa. For information about exemptions from the visa requirements, see the “Customs & Border Protection” link to the right.
If you are in the United States in another valid nonimmigrant status, you may be eligible to change to B-1 status. To change to B-1 status, you must file a Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status. For more information, see the “Change my Nonimmigrant Status” link to the right.
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. For more information, see the ”Extend my Stay” link to the right.
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.
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).