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B-1 Business Visa Overview and How to Qualify

Posted by attorney Carl Shusterman

If you are working for a foreign entity and must visit the United States for business reasons, you are likely permitted to visit the U.S. with a B-1 visa. The B-1 visa is reserved for those foreign nationals who are not being paid by a U.S. company and will not receive payment by a U.S. company while visiting the United States. If you want to work for and receive payment from a U.S. company you must instead apply for a United States Work Visa (for example, H-1B or H-2B). The maximum length of stay for an individual admitted on a B-1 visa is six months.

A (B-1) visa is a requirement for those individuals wishing to travel to the United States for a number of business-related reasons. It is a nonimmigrant visitor visa granted on a temporary basis. If your purpose in travelling to the United States is for one of the following reasons, then a (B-1) visa is the right option for you:

  • Consulting with business associates
  • Attending a scientific, educational, professional, or business convention or conference
  • Settling an estate
  • Negotiating a contract
  • Competing in an athletic event as a professional for prize money only
  • A domestic employee or nanny travelling with a foreign national employer

If you are not sure if you qualify for application for a (B-1) visa, check the guidelines at the Bureau of Consular Affairs Website. If you do qualify, the next step is to schedule an interview and apply for the visa at the U.S. Consulate or Embassy that has jurisdiction over your place of residence. The embassy or consulate will direct you on which steps to take. As with applying for all visitor visas, early application is important. To see an estimate of how long you will have to wait for an interview with a U.S. consulate, check the visa wait times.

You may qualify for the Visa Waiver Program if you are a citizen of a number of European and Pacific Rim countries. In these cases, you will not need to file for a B-1 visa, but you will have to go through a different, simpler process.

If you enter the U.S. on a B-1 visa you are normally eligible to obtain a Green Card and gain permanent residence. People using the Visa Waiver Program, however, are not eligible to change status. This is one major advantage of obtaining a B-1 visa .

Additional Resources:

Business Visa Center

Visa wait times

Locate an embassy/consulate

Visa waiver program

U.S. consular affairs, business visa overview

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