The United States B-1 Visa
A type of visitor visa, the B-1, is intended for foreign citizens to be able to temporarily enter the United States for business purposes. The B-1 visa should not be confused with the B-2 visa, which is another type of visitor visa, but is for foreign citizens looking to enter the United States only for pleasure or medical reasons.
What exactly is a “business purpose?” According to the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), types of business purposes that would qualify for a B-1 visa include:
- Meeting with business associates.
- Settling an estate
- Negotiating a contract
- Obtaining professional training.
- Attending a specific educational, scientific or professional conference or convention, either as a presenter or audience member.
Additionally, certain individuals may use a B-1 visa when passing through the United States.
Despite arguably having a “business purpose,” the following types of activities would not qualify for a B-1 visa:
- Receiving a formal education, such as at a college or university.
- Engaging in a paid performance before a paying audience.
- Most types of employment. One notable exception is working as a domestic servant or personal employee.
As you can imagine, the primary eligibility requirement for a B-1 visa is that the applicant must be requesting entry into the United States for qualified business purposes. Other requirements that must exist include:
- The business purpose is for a specific period of time.
- The applicant has the financial ability to travel to and stay in the United States.
- The applicant has no intention of permanently living in the United States. In other words, the applicant must provide ample evidence to show that he or she intends to return to his or her home country once the visit to the United States is over.
- The applicant is otherwise legally able to enter the United States.
Applicants who are seeking a B-1 visa as a personal or domestic employee (servant) will have additional requirements, namely:
- Have at least one year of experience as a personal or domestic employee.
- Have been employed as a personal or domestic employee for at least one year prior to the employer’s admission into the United States. Alternatively, if the applicant has less than a year of employment with his or her current employer, the employer must show that he or she has regularly employed a domestic or personal employee.
Common B-1 applicants include business visitors, domestic employees, academics, researchers and students. The exact application process will depend on the specific US Embassy or Consulate that the applicant applies to. Most applicants will apply to the US Embassy or Consulate of their home country.
The first step consists of completing the B-1 visa application using Form DS-160, which is submitted electronically to the US Department of State. The visa application fee is typically $160. There is also an issuance fee, although the amount depends on the applicant’s home country. Also, the issuance fee isn’t paid until the B-1 visa is granted.
The second step is the interview, which will be required for most applicants. The exact wait until the interview can take place depends on where the interview will be held, but wait times typically range from between one to two weeks.
As a general rule, applicants aged 13 years or younger, as well as applicants aged 80 years or older do not need to be interviewed. Applicants falling between those two age groups should expect to be interviewed at the US Embassy or Consulate in their home country. Keep in mind that the consular officer has full discretion as to who will be interviewed, regardless of age.
When attending the interview, applicants must bring the following documents with them:
- A passport that doesn’t expire until at least six months after the end of the applicant’s intended stay in the United States.
- A photograph, if it wasn’t already provided electronically when submitting Form DS-160.
- Receipts proving payment of applicable fees.
- Form DS-160 confirmation page, which has a barcode on it. Applicants need not bring a full copy of their Form DS-160 to the interview unless otherwise instructed.
Certain applicants may need to bring additional documents to the interview. The exact documents will depend on the applicant’s background and the consular officer’s reasons for requiring additional documentation. Common reasons for needing extra documentation include:
- Supporting the reasons for the trip.
- Proving that the applicant intends to leave the United States after the purpose for the trip is complete.
- Showing the ability to pay for the trip.
During the interview, the consular office will determine if the applicant is eligible for the B-1 visa and confirm that the B-1 visa is the appropriate visa for the applicant. The interview also includes fingerprinting and may require additional administrative processing.
Only after the consular officer approved the B-1 visa application must the applicant pay the issuance fee. Also following the interview, the applicant will be told when and how the passport with the approved B-1 visa will be returned. The B-1 visa is usually available for pick up in person at the US Embassy or Consulate or delivery by courier.How Long Does the B-1 Visa Last?
A B-1 visa will usually last from between one to six months. However, an extension of up to six months is possible. Therefore, one year is the maximum amount of time an individual can stay in the United States with a B-1 visa.Take the Steps Today to Best Secure Your Visa
There are no guarantees in life when it comes to residency, employment, visitation or any other visit to the United States. Be smart, proactive and analytical to best ensure a smooth and successful visa application process. Let Saland Law be not merely your guide, but your counsel to in securing a B-1 visa.
Call the New York immigration lawyers and former New York City prosecutors at (212) 312-7129 or contact us online today.