Every year, a number of people wish to enter the United States for temporary business purposes. Non-immigrant visas are issued to allow a foreign national to come to the U.S. for a short period of time for a specific purpose. If you are traveling to the U.S. to engage in business activities, attend a convention or conference, settle an estate, negotiate a contract, or purchase supplies or materials, you may be able to apply for a B-1 business visitor visa.
In order to be eligible for a B-1 visa, the applicant must demonstrate the following:
- The reason for the trip is to enter the U.S. for a legitimate business purpose;
- The applicant intends to stay in the U.S. for only a limited duration;
- The applicant has the money to cover the expenses of the expected stay in the U.S.;
- The applicant has a residence outside the U.S. to which he or she intends to return; and
- The applicant is otherwise allowed to enter the U.S.
Foreign nationals seeking a B-1 visa from certain countries may be able to enter the U.S. without a visa. In some cases, if an individual is already in the U.S., he or she may be able to change to a B-1 status. In order to do this, the individual must file Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status.
Individuals who enter the U.S. on a B-1 visa can stay in the country for an initial period of one to six months. Extensions of a B-1 visa are possible for a maximum total time of one year. The time authorized for your period of stay will be written on the departure portion of Form I-94 Arrival-Departure Record, which is given to you along with your stamped passport after you have been authorized to enter the U.S. by the inspecting Customs and Border Patrol officer.
Spouses and children of B-1 visa holders are not eligible to obtain a dependent visa. In other words, there is no dependent visa category for business visa applicants. Instead, each dependent who will be coming must apply separately for a B-2 visa and must fulfill the requirements for that visa.
B-1 visa holders are not allowed to obtain or engage in employment in the United States, including any jobs that require skilled or unskilled labor. B-1 visa holders also cannot enroll in a course of study or engage in any building or construction work. There is, however, one exception to the prohibition on engaging in building or construction work, and that is if the involvement is strictly in a supervising or training capacity that does not involve “hands-on” work.
Activities that are permissible under a B-1 visa include engaging in business that does not involve gainful employment, partaking in scientific, educational, professional, or religious activity, competing as a professional athlete without receiving a salary, and more.
It is important to consult the help of a qualified immigration attorney in your area if you wish to enter the U.S. for business purposes. The lawyer can help assess your situation and inform you of your eligibility for a B-1 visa.