B-1 Visa for Short Term Business Visitors

The B-1 visa status is available for individuals who need to visit the United States temporarily for a business purpose and have no intention of abandoning their residence abroad. The B-1 visitor should generally be paid by the foreign business. The B visa is generally used by individuals who are coming to the U.S. for the following reasons:

  • to attend meetings or conferences;
  • to engage in contract negotiations or new business venture discussions;
  • to perform work pursuant to an existing service contract whereby the visiting foreign employee must be on U.S. soil to complete service to the product sold by the foreign company; and
  • occasionally for short-term training programs.

This list of reasons under which a B visa may be used is not exclusive and depends on the facts and circumstances surrounding the case.

Keep in mind that B visa status is not the same as Visa Waiver status, discussed elsewhere on the site, although it is used for similar purposes. To obtain entry to the U.S. using B status, all foreign nationals, except for Canadians, must obtain a B visa stamp from the U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad prior to entry into the United States .

Qualifying for a Visa

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

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

Also, alien truck drivers may qualify for admission as B-1 visitors for business to pick up or deliver cargo traveling in the stream of international commerce. For more information on how to enter the United States as a commercial truck driver, please visit the U.S. Customs and Border Protection web site.

Passing through a U.S. Port of Entry

Applicants should be aware that a visa does not guarantee entry into the United States. Immigration authorities have the authority to deny admission, and determine the period for which the bearer of a visitor visa is authorized to remain in the United States.

Upon appearing at a U.S. port of entry with the B visa stamp in the passport, an Immigration official must authorize the traveler’s admission to the U.S. At that time the Form I-94, Record of Arrival-Departure, which notes the length of stay permitted, is stamped. Dependents may accompany B-1 business visitors and will be issued B-2 status. Those visitors who wish to stay beyond the time indicated on their Form I-94 must file Form I-539, Application to Extend Status. USCIS Forms are available for download from the USCIS Forms and Fees page. The decision to grant or deny a request for extension of stay is made solely by the USCIS.

Under either B-1 or B-2 status, if an extension is not granted within 240 days, the alien must depart the United States even if the application has not been approved or adjudicated.