If you are thinking of opening a business or working in the United States but are still prospecting, you may be eligible for a B-1 visa to participate in business activities of a commercial or professional nature in the United States. This includes but is not limited to:
- Consulting with business associates
- Traveling for a scientific, educational, professional, or business convention, or a conference on specific dates
- Settling an estate
- Negotiating a contract
- Participating in short-term training
The B-1 visa can also be used to transit through the United States for certain persons. In addition, certain air crewmen may enter the United States as deadhead crew with a B-1 visa.
Per the immigration laws and regulations, a B-1 visa holder would be a person engaging in different business activities without those activities being the main source of income.
Indeed, the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) has held that when the principal place of business and the actual place of accrual of profits is in a foreign country, the activities of a B-1 visa holder are appropriate. In Matter of Hira, for example, a case before the BIA, a tailor was conducting appropriate B-1 activities when he came to the United States to measure customers for suits to be manufactured and shipped from outside the United States.
The line can be very thin between appropriate and inappropriate B-1 business activities. An individual in B-1 status should always consult an immigration attorney to ensure that his or her activities are not violating the terms of the B-1 visa or status.
For individuals already in the United States, a change of status filed with USCIS through the Form I-539 could be the fastest route.
Individuals outside the United States would need to request a B-1 visa at a U.S. consulate abroad.
An application for a B-1 visa must demonstrate the following:
- The purpose of your trip is to enter the United States for business of a legitimate nature
- You plan to remain for a specific limited period of time
- You have sufficient funds to cover the expenses of the trip and your stay in the United States
- You have a residence outside the United States that you have no intention of abandoning, as well as other binding ties that will ensure your return abroad at the end of the visit
- You are admissible to the United States
Under the Visa Waiver Program, citizens or nationals of most European and few other countries can travel to the United States without obtaining a B-1 visa for business for stays of 90 days or less.