A B1 visa allows a foreign national to travel to and temporarily stay in the United States for business purposes. Those purposes are generally short-term and may include the following business activities:
- Settling an estate
- Negotiating contracts
- Participating in training or conferences
- Consulting with business associates
- Speaking at or attending a convention
- Purchasing goods or materials
- Participating in court proceedings
Although the requirements for obtaining a B1 visa are less stringent than most longer-term visas, those wishing to obtain this type of visa must complete a full application process. Since those applying for B1 visas are likely to be arranging for travel during a particular time frame or on relatively short notice, the applicant typically cannot afford delays caused by errors or incomplete documentation.
Working with an experienced immigration attorney can help to expedite the process by ensuring that the application and supporting documents are complete and in proper order.
Eligibility for a B1 Visa
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) requires a B1 visa applicant to provide documentation of personal eligibility in three key areas.
B1 Visas are for Short, Defined Trips
In order to qualify for a B1 visa, you must establish that your trip is of limited duration. This is typically established through evidence
- A description and timeline of the business to be completed in the United States
- Return travel itineraries and/or tickets
- Important scheduled events or time-sensitive activities requiring your presence in your home country
- Ownership of real estate and other ties that demonstrate your intention to return
B1 Visa Holders Must Have Sufficient Funds
Before you will be allowed to enter the country on a B1 visa, you will be required to demonstrate that you have sufficient funds to cover your stay in the United States and return travel. Some evidence that can help to establish availability of funds includes:
- Evidence of bank accounts and other cash on hand
- Evidence of available credit that could support your stay and travel
- Evidence that expenses have been paid, such as prepaid airline tickets
B1 Visa Holders Must Demonstrate Ties to Their Home Countries
USCIS will also be looking for evidence that the B1 visa applicant has sufficient ties to his or her home country and that the applicant can be expected to return. Some types of evidence that will demonstrate such ties include:
- Documentation of residence abroad, such as a mortgage or rental agreement
- Family members remaining in the applicant’s home country
- Foreign bank accounts, real estate holdings, and other property
- Employment or other contractual obligations abroad
Additional B1 Visa Requirements
Assuming that an individual is eligible for a B1 visa as set forth above, the applicant must still establish a legitimate business purpose for the travel and may not draw salary from any U.S. entity.
Legitimate Business Purpose for a B1 Visa
For purposes of a B1 visa, a legitimate business purpose must be “necessary incident” to your business abroad. That means, in part, that you may not engage in any activity that would constitute employment within the United States. Rather, all work performed and business engaged in while in the United States must relate directly to your business abroad.
Prohibition on Receiving Salary from a U.S. Entity
As a B1 visa holder is prohibited from working for a U.S. company, the traveler cannot accept any form of salary from such entity. Any payment for services during the U.S. stay must come from and be in connection with services rendered to the B1 visa holder’s business or employer abroad. The one exception is certain reimbursements for expenses during the stay.
Work with an Experienced Immigration Attorney to Obtain a B1 Visa
Although a B1 visa is granted for a very limited time–a time “fair and reasonable for completion of the purpose of the visit, but generally not more than six months”–the application process can be challenging. Since the type of business purposes that give rise to a B1 visa application are often time sensitive, it is in your best interest to work with an experienced immigration lawyer from the beginning. Our knowledgeable attorneys can guide you through the process from the initial application and supporting documentation through any issues that may arise, maximizing your chances of successfully obtaining a B1 visa in a time frame appropriate to your business needs. Contact Pride Immigration today!