Written by attorney Carl Michael Shusterman

B-1 Business Visa Overview and How to Qualify

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 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

Additional resources provided by the author

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