B-1 Visa- for the Business Traveler

By Dev Banad Viswanath, Esq.

If a foreign individual would like to come to the U.S. for some sort of short business activity they will most likely have to apply for a B-1 visa unless they are from a Visa Waiver Program Country (ESTA) which would allow them to enter for up to 90 days without a visa. A B-1 visa is a temporary non-immigrant business visa. This visa is for foreign individuals who are coming to the U.S for business purposes but not to work. Some qualifying business purposes include:

  • Settling an estate,
  • Negotiating a contract,
  • Taking part in short-term training, or
  • Consulting with business associates

Foreign individuals entering the U.S. under a B-1 visa may not do any productive work or accept paid or unpaid work. The B-1 visa status does not give an individual permission to manage a business or start a new business. When planning to travel to the U.S. with a B-1 visa, the foreign individual must make sure they have a valid passport as well.

If their passport is expired and it contains a valid visa in it a U.S. Embassy will not transfer a valid visa in an expired passport to a new passport. The foreign individual will need to carry both their old passport with the valid visa and their new passport or apply for a new visa to be included in the new passport.

Under a B-1 visa, a foreign individual may stay in the U.S. between one and six months, six months being the maximum. However, most B1 visa applicants will get 3 months of authorized entry. The rationale is that there is really no need for a person to be in the US for more than 3 months on a non-working business trip.

After the initial period of stay ends, an extension of stay may be granted for up to an additional six months. The maximum total amount of time permitted in B-1 status on a single trip is one year. An individual is not required to have a return ticket when they come to the U.S. but they should have evidence with them to show that they have a reason to leave and go back home at the end of their stay. One of the requirements needed for an individual to be granted a B-1 visa is to show that they will be here for a specific amount of time and that they plan on returning to their foreign home. A B-1 visa is a temporary visa and therefore an individual cannot stay in the U.S. for an infinite amount of time.

Any dependents of B-1 nonimmigrants, spouses, and children under the age of 21, are not allowed to obtain a dependent visa. Each dependent that will join the B-1 visa holder to the U.S. must apply separately for a B-2 visitor visa and must follow the rules of that visa.

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