B-1/B-2 Visa or Waiver – Business or Pleasure Visitors

Certain kinds of “business” related travel is permitted using a B-1 visitor visa. The definition of “business” under immigration law is limited, and does not generally allow for gainful employment, labor for hire or productive activity such as operating a business or consultancy work. Specifically, in the applicable U.S. law, the term “business” is generally limited to the negotiation of contracts, consultation with business associates, investigating the creation of investments, litigation, and participation in scientific, educational, professional or business conventions, conferences or seminars and other legitimate activities of a commercial or professional nature.

A B-1 visa is always issued together with a B-2 visa and is called B-1/B-2. It embodies two different reasons for travel. The first is business and second is pleasure or medical. The nationals of some countries are allowed to enter without a visa under the Visa Waiver, (ESTA) program. Every country including nationals of visa waiver countries must apply for a visa for the U.S. if they intend to stay for more than 90 days or want to change status in the U.S.

Frequently Asked Questions about B-1 Visas

What Type of Business is the B-1 Visa Suitable For?

  • Participants to attend scientific, educational, professional, business, or religious  conventions
  • Persons to work on specific projects in the U.S. and paid by a foreign employer
  • Business professionals to participate in commercial transactions (which do not involve gainful employment) such as negotiating contracts and consulting with business associates
  • Persons to undertake independent studies such as feasibility studies, market research or any such activity
  • Persons to attend professional or business conferences, workshops, or seminars
  • Business professionals to explore possibilities to set up a subsidiary of a foreign corporation, or to make investments
  • Technical personnel to install or service equipment pursuant to a contract of sale, or to provide after sales service
  • Business professionals to attend meetings as a member of the Board of Directors of a U.S. corporation
  • Professionals to conduct business consultations with business associates in the U.S.
  • Purchasing agents of a foreign employer to come to the U.S. to procure goods, components, or raw materials for use outside the U.S.
  • Foreign business persons coming to the U.S. in conjunction with litigation
  • U.S. universities to bring foreign guest speakers or lecturers

What are the Privileges of a B-1 Visa?

Other than business activities like attending meetings, conventions, business negotiations, tourism purposes etc., a person is also entitled to use the visa for short-term training or a company course provided the sponsoring company from the home country is committed to bearing the expenses.

What are the Limitations of a B-1 Visa?

The U.S. immigration law strictly restricts B-1 visa holders from seeking employment or working in the U.S. and the visitor is not allowed to start any program of study.

How Long can Someone Stay in the U.S. on a B-1 Visa?

A person may stay in the U.S. on B-1 visa between six months to one year depending on the purpose of the trip. The individual will be given up to six months at the initial entry and then can apply for an extension.

What Type of Travelers are Eligible for the B-2 Visa?
(Not Inclusive)

  • Tourists on a pleasure trip to the U.S.
  • People visiting friends and relatives in the U.S.
  • People coming to the U.S. for medical treatment
  • Amateur athletes, musicians etc. who participate in their respective activities in the U.S. without remuneration
  • Dependents of foreign members of the U.S. armed forces temporarily assigned duty in the U.S.
  • Dependents of B-1 visa holders solely to accompany the principal foreign national to the U.S. Domestic partners or servants of certain nonimmigrants, permanent residents or U.S. citizens
  • Persons to enter the U.S. to apply for special naturalization benefits on the basis of U.S. military service

What Must Individuals Who Apply for Either a B-1 or B-2 Visas Show?

  • That they plan to remain in the U.S. for a specific, limited period
  • Evidence of funds to cover expenses in the U.S
  • Evidence of compelling social and economic ties abroad that would assure their return
  • Evidence of a residence outside the U.S

What are the Requirements for B-2 Visas Issued for Medical Treatment? 

  • A diagnosis from a local physician
  • A letter from a U.S. physician or medical facility willing to treat the ailment

Contact us for additional information on B-1 and B-2 visas, and guidance in dealing with what can be a complex process.