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B-1 Business Visitor

A B-1 Business Visitor visa is the most common type of visa to conduct business in the United States for a limited period of time. Individuals may be admitted to the United States in B-1 visa status for the purpose of engaging in short-term commercial or professional activity, but not for productive employment. With few exceptions, B-1 business visitors may not receive U.S. compensation for their services.

Permissible B-1 business activities include (but are not limited to) the following:

  • • Engaging in commercial transactions that do not involve gainful employment in the U.S.
    • Negotiating contracts
    • Consulting with business associates
    • Litigation
    • Attending scientific, educational, professional, or business conventions, conferences or seminars
    • Undertaking independent research that does not benefit any U.S. company
    • Performing missionary work (so long as the work does not involve the selling of articles or the solicitation or acceptance of donations, and provided the minister will not receive any salary or remuneration from any U.S. source)
    • Competing in amateur or professional sporting events or tournaments
    • Seeking or making investments
    • Installing, servicing or repairing industrial or commercial equipment sold by a non-U.S. company to a U.S. company, when required by the purchase contract
    • Observing the conduct of business
    • Speaking or lecturing (as long as compensation is limited to expenses or an honorarium and if no such payments have been received from more than five U.S. institutions in the past six months)

Foreign nationals must apply for B-1 visas at a U.S. consulate abroad. Applicants must demonstrate to the U.S. consular officer that they have a residence outside the U.S. that they do not intend to abandon. In addition, applicants must show that they have a valid business reason for wanting to enter the U.S., that they will be able to support themselves financially while in the U.S., that they intend to enter the U.S. for a specific and limited duration, and that they have compelling social and economic ties abroad (such as employment, family, residence) that will ensure their return to their home country.

Once issued, the B-1 visa allows its holder to enter the U.S. for short-term business travel, usually for 3 to 6 months at a time. However, B-1 business visitors may be limited to the duration of the expected visit. It is important to note that although the maximum duration of a B-1/B-2 visa is 10 years (although shorter durations are given to nationals of certain countries), in practice the initial period of authorized stay does not usually exceed 6 months. Once in the U.S., B-1 visa holders may apply for an extension of stay or a change of status to another visa category as long as that application is filed before the expiration of the initial period of authorized stay.

Although most business visitors must apply for a B-1 visa at a U.S. Consulate, foreign nationals of 36 countries may enter the U.S. for up to 90 days in business visitor status without a visa under the U.S. government’s Visa Waiver Program (VWP). For more information, please visit our Visa Waivers page.