B1 Visitors for Business
Many professionals who do not have U.S. family members eligible to sponsor them believe that having a job offer from a U.S. company is the first step to a visa. However, coming to the U.S. may be a prerequisite to getting that job offer, establishing a business, or investigating an investment opportunity. A B-1 visa may be used to interview for jobs or to investigate investment or business expansion opportunities, however understanding what is and is not permissible on the B-1 may require consultation with an immigration attorney. Further, the B-1 applicant may need a letter either to present to the consular officer or the officer at the port of entry clearly outlining what the applicant will do in the U.S. Marty & Ellis has extensive experience assisting and advising clients who can benefit from obtaining B-1 status.
Eligibility and Admission to the U.S.
You may be eligible for a B-1 visa if you will be participating in business activities including, but 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
- Transiting through the United States: certain persons may transit the United States with a B-1 visa
B1 Visas are often used by prospective investors and entrepreneurs that want to travel to the U.S. to research and/or set up their U.S. investment. If you are interested in starting a business in the U.S., please review the L and E nonimmigrant categories. If your business will require an investment of $500K or more, you may want to consider the EB5 immigrant category.
B-2 Visitors for Pleasure
B-2 visas are for those traveling mostly for pleasure such as visiting friends or as tourists. It is also permissible to do a combination of B-1 and B-2 activities. Typical activities permitted on B-2 visas include:
- vacation (holiday)
- visit with friends or relatives
- medical treatment
- participation in social events hosted by fraternal, social, or service organizations
- participation by amateurs in musical, sports, or similar events or contests, if not being paid for participating
- enrollment in a short recreational course of study, not for credit toward a degree (for example, a two-day cooking class while on vacation).
To be admitted to the U.S., B1 and B2 Applicants must show that:
- The purpose of your trip is to enter the United States for business or pleasure of a legitimate nature (such as those described above)
- You plan to remain for a specific limited period of time (typically evidenced by round trip airplane tickets)
- You have the funds to cover the expenses of the trip and your stay in the United States (copies of bank statements showing financial means)
- You have a residence outside the United States in which you have no intention of abandoning, as well as other binding ties which will ensure your return abroad at the end of the visit (employment letters or deeds showing you own property)
- You are otherwise admissible to the United States (no grounds for inadmissibility, such as having committed certain crimes)
You must apply directly for a B-1/B-2 visa with the U.S. embassy with jurisdiction over your place of residence. Each embassy has its own process for setting up visa appointments and their process sometimes changes, therefore, it is best that you access your U.S. embassy's website for details.
Individuals from certain countries seeking a B-1 or B-2 visa may be able to enter the United States without a visa via the Visa Waiver Program.
If you are in the United States in another valid nonimmigrant status, you may be eligible to change to B-1 or B-2 status. The initial period of stay is typically 1 to 6 months; maximum total amount of time permitted in B-1 or B-2 status on any one trip is generally 1 year.
Visa Waiver Program (VWP)
The Visa Waiver Program (VWP) allows citizens from Andorra, Hungary, New Zealand, Australia, Iceland, Norway, Austria, Ireland, Portugal, Belgium, Italy, San Marino, Brunei, Japan, Singapore, Czech Republic, Latvia, Slovakia, Denmark, Liechtenstein, Slovenia, Estonia, Lithuania South Korea, Finland, Luxembourg, Spain, France, Malta, Sweden, Germany, Monaco, Switzerland, Greece, theNetherlands, Taiwan, and the United Kingdom, to travel to the United States without obtaining a visa, for stays of 90 days or less for business, tourism, visiting or pleasure. Transiting or traveling through the United States to Canada or Mexico is generally permitted for VWP travelers.
Each Traveler Must have authorization under ESTA
In order to travel without a visa on the VWP, you must have authorization through the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) prior to boarding a U.S. bound air or sea carrier. ESTA is the Department of Homeland Security, Customs and Border Protection's (CBP) automated web-based system, to determine eligibility to travel without a visa to the United States for tourism or business. If you have previously been denied a U.S. visa at a U.S. embassy, you will not be eligible to travel under the VWP and must apply for a B-1 or B-2 visa. Visit the ESTA webpage on the CBP website for more detailed information, to apply for ESTA, and pay the fee.