B-1: Business Visitor
A B-1 business visitor is not authorized to perform productive employment in the U.S. A B-1 business visitor must maintain a foreign residence abroad to which the B-1 visitor intends to return at the end of the authorized period of stay. B-1 status may not be used as a means to accelerate a candidate’s eligibility to enter the U.S. to engage in gainful employment. The B-1 business visitor will generally remain on the foreign employer’s payroll in the home country and cannot receive compensation from a U.S. source, other than for reimbursement of incidental expenses. A B-1 visa application may be made directly at a U.S. consulate or embassy.
A B-1 business visitor may be admitted to the U.S. for a period up to a maximum of six months. However, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (USCBP) officers will admit a business visitor for the period of time necessary to conduct the specified business, which typically ranges between 30 to 90 days only.
Once admitted to the U.S., a B-1 business visitor may apply to extend the period of authorized stay for up to six months if there is a business need or other justification for requesting an extension. An application for an extension of status is filed from within the U.S. with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Prolonged business visits, however, may give rise to a presumption that the visitor is engaged in prohibited productive employment in the U.S.
Visa Waiver Program and Electronic System Travel Authorization (ESTA)
The Visa Waiver Program (VWP) enables eligible citizens of participating countries to travel to the U.S. for tourism or business for a period up to a maximum of 90 days without obtaining a U.S. visa. Currently there are 35 participating countries in the program: Andorra, Austria, Australia, Belgium, Brunei, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.
A VWP citizen is permitted to enter the U.S. under the same rules as the B-1 business visitor through the Visa Waiver program for up to 90 days. Neither an extension of stay nor a change of status may be granted to a VWP visitor.
Prior to travel to the U.S., VWP travelers must apply for and receive valid travel authorization through the Department of Homeland Security’s Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA). ESTA is a free, automated system used to determine the eligibility of visitors to travel to the U.S. under VWP. Once granted, travel authorizations will be valid for multiple entries into the U.S., and are valid for up to two years. Information on ESTA can be obtained by visiting the Department of Homeland Security Customs and Border Protection (CBP) website. VWP travelers must meet all eligibility requirements to travel to the U.S. without a visa on VWP. Therefore, some travelers from VWP countries may not be eligible to use the program and must apply for a visa. Complete information on the VWP and eligibility requirements can be found on the U.S. Department of State’s website.