For individuals who are looking to travel to the United States for business trips, leisure, or to receive medical treatment, a visitor visa is required. In the United States, the B-1 visa and the B-2 visa are both available for visitors. The B-1 visa is available to those who need to travel to the U.S. for business reasons; likewise, the B-2 visa is for tourists and those who need medical treatment. However, both visas are frequently issued together for individuals on legitimate business trips who are also looking to visit tourist attractions.
B-1 Visa Eligibility and Requirements
The United States government has specific requirements for eligibility of the B-1 visa. Any business professionals should work with legal counsel to ensure that their case meets the correct qualifications. Here are the requirements for a B-1 visa to become approved:
- The primary intent of the trip is for legitimate business reasons
- The length of the stay will reflect the length of the business operation
- They must provide proof of ability to cover expenses or ensure they have proper financial support
- Proof of residence outside the United States must be provided
- The intent of the trip is not for foreign press or media
- The alien will not engage in any form of study
- The alien cannot work for a United States employer
Workers that meet these qualifications and are planning to enter the United States for a temporary period of time can apply for a B-1 visa. Those looking to obtain a B-1 visa may receive salary or compensation only from a source or employer outside the United States. Any incidental travel expenses, however, may be covered by a source based in the United States.
Individuals looking to apply for a B-1 visa should apply at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate that has legal jurisdiction over the area they reside in outside the United States. Applicants of the B-1 visa can apply online, but it is significantly easier for your application to be approved when going to an embassy or consulate office directly.
Applicants will have an easier time with the process applying directly to the consulate or embassy since the process includes an in-person interview. Unless upon specific request from the consulate or embassy, applicants must only interview if they are between the ages of 13 and 80. However, there are required documents and forms of supporting evidence, in addition to fees, that must be submitted by B-1 visa applicants of all ages.
It is highly recommended for a B-1 visa applicant to discuss their or their employee’s situation with an immigration attorney before filing the application. There are multiple forms of supporting documentation and important details that an applicant should be aware of. Some important details to consider include:
- Submission of Form DS-156 by the applicant, which is a nonimmigrant visa application
- The applicant must also submit supplemental Form DS-157
- A letter from the alien’s employer specifying the trip must be included
- The visa holder must have a valid passport that will expire at least six months removed from the length of the visa
- Both visa applicants must submit an application with a blank page if the passport includes two individuals
- Two identical photos must be submitted in color against a light background, showing the applicants full face with no head covering; a headdress may be worn for religious purposes
- Annual reports, catalogs, or brochures that describe the applicant’s affiliated company must be provided along with a tour itinerary
- Documentation that demonstrates the ability and intention of the applicant must be submitted
B-1 visa applicants must also understand that they are required to show that they are lawfully classified as business professionals. Proof that they can be classified as business visitors can be provided by:
- Documentation of the trip’s purpose and the intent to arrive and leave the United States in accordance with the trip
- Evidence demonstrating that prior arrangements have been made to cover trip expenses and routes must be provided
- Proof of ability to cover travel and related expenses, whether individually or through a party outside the United States
- Proof that the applicant agrees to not accept any form of employment in the United States while visiting and can only conduct business for the previously approved employer
- Applicants are advised to bring any form of documentation that constitutes proof of legitimacy to improve their chances of being approved
Specialized Activities Allowed on a B-1 Visa
B-1 visa holders are permitted to purchase supplies, log sale orders, and take part into business transactions. Litigation and consulting with other business associates are also permissible to holders. The visa also allows the holder to participate in conferences or conventions pertaining to business or science. Other forms of specialized activities for B-1 visa holders include:
- Attending business presentations, board meetings, seminars, conventions, or scientific conferences
- Investigating possibilities of creating a subsidiary for the associated company, conducting research, or engaging in investment activities
- Performing duties otherwise granted to H-1 visa holders, without the company being located in the United States
- Conducting recruitment including interviewing or hiring staff, managing business investments, soliciting sales or negotiating with other businesses
- Repairing or installing machinery or equipment, or training workers in the United States on how to repair or install machinery or equipment purchased from a foreign nation
- Participating in volunteer or community service programs through religious or nonprofit charitable organizations
- Competing as a professional athlete with remuneration only being from prize money won at an athletic event
- Serving as a personal servant for a nonimmigrant who is temporarily residing in the United States
Terms of Stay and B-1 Visa Extensions
Business workers in the United States on a B-1 visa are only permitted to work in the United States for one-year after arriving. Extensions can be granted by the U.S. in periods of up to six months, but only if the visa holder can prove that the business operation is continuing throughout the entire extension period. Unless upon cancellation from the United States government, a B-1 visa is valid until the expiration date stated on the visa. If an individual has an expired passport but an active visa, the visa page should not be removed from the invalid passport since it can be used with a new and valid passport.
Though a person may obtain a B-1 visa, it does not guarantee them automatic access to enter the United States. Authorities are granted the power to deny visa holders admission into the country; they can also determine a set period of time that the holder is allowed to stay in the United States. An immigration official is required to authorize admission to the visa holder when entering. Form I-94 is stamped during this process, which is the Record of Arrival — Departure. This form validates the amount of designated time that the immigrant is allowed in the U.S. Form I-539 must be filed with the USCIS if the visa holder plans to stay longer than the time that has been granted. They have sole discretion over whether to approve a person’s request to extend their stay in the United States.
Speak to an Immigration Attorney Today
It is essential for a B-1 visa applicant to have proper knowledge of the application process and qualifications. However, it is important to remember that applications can become complicated, especially when extra information or evidence is required. Our immigration attorneys have years of experience when working with visitor visas and can help assist you throughout the entire B-1 visa application process. We work with our clients at our office or through the phone to help move their case forward and potentially qualify for a visitor visa. Call or contact the immigration attorneys at Johnson & Masumi, PC today for a free consultation regarding a B-1 visa.