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How To Get a B-1 Visa (Business Visitor)

Posted by attorney Todd Gallinger

What is a B-1 Visa?

B-1 visas are issued by the American government to travelers wishing to temporarily enter the United States for business purposes. Note that these visas are not to be confused with H-1B visas, which are employment visas.

Who is applicable?

In order to apply for a B-1 visa, you must fulfill several requirements:

· You must be able to prove that you intend to stay in the United States only temporarily;

· You must have a maintained permanent residence in your home country;

· You must have compelling ties to your home country such as property, family, or a permanent job;

· You cannot be coming to the United States in order to engage in business activities or to provide services that are primarily to the benefit of a U.S. employer;

· Your trip’s purpose must be a legitimate business activity;

· You may not be paid a salary or remuneration from a U.S. source (reimbursement for per diem or travel expenses is permitted); and

· You must have sufficient funds to finance the entirety of your trip, or proof that your employer will provide support.

How do you apply?

The application for a B-1 visa includes:

· DOS Form DS-156 (Nonimmigrant Visa Application);

· DOS Form DS-157 (Supplemental Nonimmigrant Visa Application for all male applicants between the ages of 16 and 45);

· A copy of your passport, valid for at least six months beyond your intended period of stay in the U.S. and containing at least one blank page;

· Two identical, color photographs showing your full face against a light background (no head coverings, excepting headdresses required by a religious order of which you are a member);

· Documents describing the company you are working for, such as brochures, catalogs, or annual reports;

· A copy of your tour itinerary; and

· Documentation of your ability and intention, or that of your employer, to cover all expenses during your stay in the U.S.

How long is it valid?

B-1 visitors for business may be admitted for not more than one year, and may be granted extensions of temporary stay in increments of not more than six months each. In order to be granted these extensions, you must fill out form 1-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status.

How long will it take?

The processing time for each individual application varies; however, the time to process a B-1 visa is generally between sixty to ninety days. Applications can be filed no later than sixty days before your intended trip; for visas related to science conferences, applications should be filed at least ninety days in advance.

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