Moore & Van Allen Law Firm, Attorneys


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The B-1 (Visitor for Business) visa is used for brief business visits to the U.S. of less than 180 days per visit. 

The B-1 visa category requires that business activity be associated with international trade or commerce.   Productive employment in the U.S. on a B-1 Visa is prohibited, such as a salaried work for U.S. employer or services for hire on independent basis.  The principal benefit of the visitor’s activity in the U.S. must accrue to the business person or corporate entity abroad.  Examples of clearly acceptable B-1 Activities are: 

  • Employee of a foreign company coming to the U.S. for a brief period of time, as a representative of that company, to market its goods and services, negotiate contracts, consult with U.S. business associates, take orders, perform technical services under existing service or sales contract, undertake independent market or product research, and/or attend business conferences or seminars.
  • Foreign investor coming to the U.S. to set up investment: open bank accounts, incorporate business, sign contracts, lease facility, etc., but not to manage the investment.
  • Business person may tangentially engage in tourism related activities and participate in short courses of study incidental to his/her trip.

Following are some examples of clearly unacceptable B-1 Activities: 

  • Employee of a foreign company coming to the U.S. to assume salaried employment within a U.S. subsidiary, affiliate, etc. (A viable alternative is admission as a representative of the foreign company, but remaining on that company's payroll as salaried employee.  U.S. firm may pay limited allowances and reimburse expenses.)
  • Workers hired by Job Contractors and assigned to U.S. employers under contract (i.e. job shops).
  • Admission as temporary Business Visitor with clearly preconceived, but undeclared, intent to remain in U.S. and seek change of status to longer term, employment authorized non-immigrant classification.

There are many grey areas in dealing with Visitors for Business, such as admission into the U.S. to render professional services that would normally fall under H-1B professional worker classification, except that foreign national will be paid abroad. Also an employee of foreign company in process of establishing U.S. office, majority owned subsidiary or affiliate, when physical premises for U.S. office have not been secured could be considered B-1 visa eligible.

Procedurally, the employee would apply for the B-1 Visa directly at the U.S. Consulate in their home country or current country of residence. B-1 Visa applicants are required to evidence their “non-immigrant” intent and ties to their home country abroad, showing that they will depart the U.S. upon completion of their temporary business visit.