The business visitor visa is a nonimmigrant visa for individuals desiring to enter the United States temporarily for short-term, temporary business activities related to their employment abroad. Individuals who enter the United States under this type of visa may engage in commercial transactions not involving gainful employment. Acceptable business activities include negotiating contracts, attending seminars, litigating, or consulting with clients or business associates.

A visitor for business must demonstrate that he or she is not an intending immigrant. The individual must demonstrate that he or she is entering the United States for a specific, limited time period; that he or she will not study or engage in gainful employment while in the United States; that he or she has a residence in a foreign country which he or she has no intention of abandoning; and that he or she has made adequate financial arrangements to carry out the purpose of the visit and to depart from the United States afterward.

B-1 classification does not entitle business visitors to enter the U.S. labor market, meaning employment activities that are domestic in nature and/or positions that are generally filled on a competitive basis within the U.S. pool of authorized citizen, lawful permanent resident and nonimmigrant workers. If an individual seeks to perform work that normally would be performed by a U.S. worker, this is not the proper visa type.

However, a B-1 business visitor may be permitted to perform services on the premises of a U.S. company if pursuant to an international business relationship between the U.S. company and the individual’s foreign employer.

A B-1 business visitor may not receive a salary or payment from any U.S. source for services rendered in connection with activities in the United States, with the exception of reimbursement for actual expenses incidental to his or her temporary stay.

How to Apply

Individuals who seek visitor visas generally should apply at the American Embassy or Consulate with jurisdiction over their place of permanent residence.

If the consular officer should find it necessary to deny the issuance of a visitor visa, the applicant may apply again if there is new evidence to overcome the basis for the refusal. In the absence of new evidence, consular officers are not obliged to re-examine such cases.

If the consular officer issues a visitor visa, the individual next faces inspection at a U.S. port of entry, such as an airport. Upon inspection, the individual will be interviewed by a Customs and Border Protection officer. Based on information provided by the individual, the officer will determine the purpose of the trip and the period of time that is fair and reasonably necessary in order to accomplish that purpose. The individual’s I-94 card will be stamped accordingly.

Here, it is extremely helpful to provide to the CBP officer an employer letter describing the legitimate business activities in which he or she will be engaged during his or her temporary visit to the United States. Please contact our office for assistance in drafting such a letter.


The maximum period of stay is one year, but many times the CBP officer at the port of entry will grant status simply for the period of that particular business trip as explained to the officer (i.e., two weeks). Extensions may be granted in increments of six months, and may be obtained without leaving the United States.


Spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21 may receive B-2 visa status for the same duration as the B-1 visa business visitor. Dependents must apply independently at a U.S. Consulate overseas.

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