B-1 Non-Immigrant Visa

The B-1, temporary business visitor category is available for foreign nationals who wish to travel on a temporary basis (up to six months at a time) to "conduct business" in the United States. A foreign national on B-1 status cannot be "employed" within the United States. Therefore, it is very important that the foreign national receive no salary or fee from a U.S. source for activities amounting to local employment.

Applicants for "B-1" visitor visas must show that they qualify under provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act.The presumption in the law is that every visa applicant is an intending immigrant. Therefore, applicants for visitor visas must overcome this presumption by demonstration that:

  • The purpose of their trip is to enter the U.S. for business or pleasure;
  • They plan to remain for a specific, limited period;
  • They have a residence outside of the U.S. as well as other binding obligations which will insure their return abroad at the conclusion of the visit.

Factors that are considered to determine whether a foreign national qualifies for a B-1 visa include the following:

  • Any profit derived must be accrued (at least predominantly) outside of the United States.
  • Any compensation must be paid to the foreign employer and not the foreign national working within the United States.
  • Each B-1 entry must be clearly a temporary entry.
  • The B-1 visitor must have an unequivocal intent to return to his/her foreign domicile.

A B-1 visa holder is allowed to conduct business in the United States for an overseas company. A non-inclusive list of permissible activities under the B-1 visa includes:

  • To engage in commercial transactions (e.g., to take orders for goods which will be manufactured outside of the U.S.).
  • To negotiate contracts.
  • To consult with business associates.
  • To participate in litigation.
  • To participate in scientific, educational, professional, or business conventions or conferences.
  • To undertake independent research.

There are some instances where a foreign national may work (or provide services) within the United States on a B-1 visa. These include:

  • Members of the entertainment profession who enter the United States to participate in a cultural program sponsored by the sending country.
  • Professional athletes who enter the United States to participate in a tournament or sporting event.
  • Certain professionals (foreign nationals who hold a bachelor's degree or its equivalent) who must travel to the U.S. on short notice and for a short period of time.
  • Certain trainees who enter the United States for training purposes, but who will continue to receive a salary from their foreign employer.
  • Specialists coming to install, service or repair commercial or industrial equipment or machinery purchased from outside the United States, or to train U.S. workers to perform such service.
  • Prospective investors coming to seek a qualified investment, provided that the visa holder does not perform productive labor or actively participate in the management of the business.
  • Prospective intra-company transferees coming to open or be employed in a new branch, subsidiary, or affiliate of the foreign employer.

Other categories of workers who may work or otherwise provide services within the United States on a B-1 visa include:

  • Certain religious ministers.
  • Personal or domestic servants of U.S. citizens residing abroad or who have a permanent home (or are stationed) in a foreign country.
  • Certain foreign nationals studying at foreign medical schools who need to travel to the United States temporarily.

The B-1 visa holders are normally allowed into the U.S. for up to a 6-month period.

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