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B-1 business visitor status enables individuals to travel to the U.S. for specific business reasons when employed abroad. B-1 visa holders are typically allowed to remain in the U.S. for up to six months; however, often CBP (Customs and Border Protection) will only permit a shorter stay consistent with a visitor’s business activities. An alternative for many individuals to applying for a B-1 visa at a U.S. consulate abroad is to apply for entry with ESTA and the Visa Waiver Program. To learn more about ESTA and the VWP, click here. ESTA/VWP

The most common types of acceptable B-1 business visitor activities include:

  • Consult with business associates
  • Attend a scientific, educational, professional or business convention, or a conference on specific dates
  • Lecturer or speaker
  • Settle an estate
  • Negotiate a contract
  • Participate in short-term training
  • Professional athlete participating in a tournament or sporting event
  • Investor seeking investment or other business ventures (cannot stay in the U.S. to manage business without an appropriate visa)

This list is not comprehensive. A number of other activities may fall into the scope of B-1 visa status. In almost every category of B-1 activity, an individual is prohibited from receiving payment or income from a U.S. source.

B-1 status is legally very distinct from having a “work visa” such as a H-1b or L-1 visa. B-1 business visitors are prohibited from entering the U.S. labor market. This means that a B-1 business visitor should not be performing work that could be performed by a U.S. worker. The duration of the job or project alone does not determine B-1 status. Even very short visits can exceed the scope of B-1 status if an individual engages in business activities that are not specifically designated as B-1 activities. It is imperative to speak to an immigration attorney if you are unsure whether the scope of your activities falls within B-1 status.

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