B1 Visa USA for Temporary Business Travel
Do you need the B1 visa USA to travel?
The B1 visa is a non-immigrant visa, specifically designed for temporary business visits to the USA.
The B1 visa is intended for non-US nationals, not eligible for the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), wishing to travel to the USA on a short-term basis for work purposes.
Eligibility for a B1 Visa USA
To be eligible for a B1 visa, your visit to the USA must be for legitimate business purposes.
B1 Visa USA: Permissible activities
Examples of reasons to visit the USA for temporary business purposes could include, but not be limited to:
- attending a business meeting, convention or conference
- negotiating a contract with a customer
- installing or making repairs to machinery
- taking up a speaking engagement at a US university for 9 days or less
- visiting sites in the USA that could be used for future business premises
- taking part in a voluntary service programme which benefits a US local community
If the reason for your visit to the USA is both work and leisure related (attending a business convention then holidaying in the USA, for instance), then a B1 visa will not be suitable. Instead, you should apply for a combination B1/B2 visa.
B1 Visa USA: Ineligible activity
A B1 visa can’t be used for permanent employment purposes, to participate on a professional and paid basis as a performer or athlete, or by members of the press. However, there are a number of alternative temporary worker visas available:
- H1B for temporary workers in a speciality occupation
- I for foreign press members
- L1A and L1B for intracompany transferees
- O for persons with extraordinary ability in the arts, education, sciences, business, athletics and film or TV production
This is not a full list of the available visas for temporary workers. Take advice on your options.
B1 Visa USA: General requirements
Your visit to the USA must be for a defined and limited period of time.
You must have sufficient funds to pay for any expenses incurred as a result of the trip, including your return travel out of the USA.
You must have a residence in a country other than the USA which you intend to return to, as well as other ties to that country which would satisfy the caseworker that you will return home at the end of your visit.
There must be no other factors that would prevent you entering the USA, such as criminal convictions, involvement in terrorist activities, or previous violations of immigration laws.
To demonstrate that you meet the above criteria, you may be asked to provide the following information at your interview:
- A letter from your employer outlining the reasons for the business trip and communication from the business or organisation in the USA that you are visiting
- Property related documents such as a mortgage statement
- Employment or professional documents such as a company registration certificate or your business card
- Financial documents, for instance, a bank statement of your most recent tax return
- Documents regarding your family such as birth certificates or family photographs
- Travel documents including details of where you will stay while in the USA and your return travel ticket
B1 Visa USA: How to apply
To apply for a B1 visa, use the Online Non-Immigrant Visa Application Form (DS-160). The application form is completed entirely online.
You will be required to upload a photograph during the application process, so make sure you have a suitable photograph in uploadable format before you begin the process.
The DS-160 form is extensive and will ask for the following information:
- Personal Information
This section will ask for your full name, sex, marital status, date and place of birth, original nationality and any other nationality you have ever held, and whether you are a permanent resident in any country other than your country of birth.
- Address and Phone Information
- Passport Information
- Travel Information
The purpose of your visit to the USA, your travel plans (travel dates and details), where you will stay while in the USA, the person or business who is paying for your visit.
- Travel Companions Information
This section will ask for details of anyone who is travelling with you.
- Previous US Travel Information
Have you visited the USA before? Have you ever been issued with a US visa? If so, details of that visa and any biometric information you provided. Have you ever lost a US visa or had one stolen? Have you been issued a US visa which has then been cancelled or revoked? Have you ever been refused access to the USA? Has an immigrant petition ever been filed on your behalf with the US Immigration Service?
- US Point of Contact Information
Provide details of any person in the USA who knows you and can confirm your identity, or the company or organisation that you plan to visit whilst in the USA.
- Family Information
You will be asked for details of your parents and spouse.
- Present Work/Education/Training Information
Your primary occupation, present employer, monthly income and a brief description of your duties.
- Past Work/Education/Training Information
Previous employment details and education.
- Additional Work/Education/Training Information
Do you belong to a clan or tribe? Have you travelled to other countries during the last 5 years and if so where? Have you belonged to, contributed to, or worked for any professional, social or charitable organisation? Do you have specialised skills or training? Have you ever served in the military? Have you ever served in, been a member of, or been involved with a paramilitary unit, vigilante unit, rebel group, guerrilla group, or insurgent organisation?
- Security and Background
This section asks for medical and health information, whether you have been involved in criminal activities, security information (espionage, war crime and terrorism involvement), immigration law violation information and several miscellaneous information questions.
- Preparer of Application
Has anyone assisted you in making your application? If so, provide details of that person.
Once you have completed the application form, print out the confirmation sheet for your information and to provide at your interview.
The next step is to visit the US Visa Information and Appointment Services website, pay the machine-readable visa (MRV) application fee (don’t forget to keep a copy of your payment receipt) and schedule your interview.
There is a Business Fast Track option available, should you need to visit the US urgently but whether your reasons for such a request are accepted is down to the discretion of the US immigration authorities and the Embassy or Consulate involved, and will require supporting documentation.
Your interview will be held at your local US Embassy or Consulate.
Before you attend, you should ensure you have all the relevant documents, including the confirmation page of your DS-160 form and your appointment instruction letter.
Arrive no later than 30 minutes before your interview time. Arriving late may result in your appointment being cancelled, however, you will not be admitted into the Embassy or Consulate more than 30 minutes before your interview.
You will generally be at the Embassy or Consulate for 2 to 3 hours.
Either before or during the interview, your biometric information will be taken. This includes your finger prints, photograph and signature.
Take your supporting documents with you, including the confirmation page from your DS-160 form and a copy of your appointment instruction page. Without this last document, you will not be allowed access to the Embassy or Consulate.
At the interview, the officer will ask you questions about your completed form, the documents you have provided, your personal situation and your investment venture to check that you are eligible to be granted a B1 visa.
Unless further information is required, you will receive a decision on the day of your interview.
Why might a B1 Visa be denied?
A visa application may be rejected if:
- You didn’t provide sufficient documents and proof.
- The purposes of the visit are not eligible for a B1 visa.
- You have a criminal record.
- You cannot prove that your intention to visit the USA is only for a temporary time.
- You cannot prove that you have sufficient funds to pay for the visit.
- Evidence provided in the application is later found to be fraudulent.
- You previously stayed in the USA for longer than you had permission to do so.
B1 visa USA applications – NNU can help!
NNU are specialist US immigration attorneys and can advise on business-related travel to the US, including the B1 visa applications.
If you have a question about the E1 visa, or any other US immigration related matter, please contact us for advice.
This article does not constitute direct legal advice and is for informational purposes only.