When people talk about a US “business visa,” they are commonly referring to the B1 visa. This is a non-immigrant visa that allows its holder to visit the US to conduct temporary business. Citizens of countries under the US Visa Waiver Program need not apply for a B1 visa to enter the United States. If your home country is not part of this program, you will have to go through the B1 visa application process.
Steps To Get A US Business Visa (B1)
- Complete the DS-160 form. You can fill out this form online through the US Department of State’s Consular Electronic Application Center (here). Note that your country’s consulate may or may not require you to upload a standardized digital photograph alongside this form (click here to see the criteria for this standardized photo).
- Pay visa fees. There is a $160 application fee for the B1 visa. Depending on your country, there may be other issuance fees, also known as reciprocity fees. Payment methods vary per country as well. See the instructions from your embassy or consulate.
- Schedule your interviews. After you have paid, you must schedule your personal visa interview with an embassy official. There are some cases where this interview is not required, such as for applicants aged 13 and younger, or 80 and older. If you are not exempted from the interview, schedule it as soon as possible as there is likely a long wait time.
In certain countries, you will need to schedule an additional appointment before your interview. This is to provide your biometric information (fingerprints and photos) to an Offsite Facilitation Center.
- Prepare your application documents. Common documentation for visa applicants include a valid passport, Form DS-160 confirmation page, application fee payment receipt, and valid photo. For a B1 visa application, also prepare the following:
- A letter from your company describing the purpose of your US trip
- Financial statements proving you are financially able to pay for trip costs or are covered by someone else’s finances
- Evidence that you will return to your home country, such as family, lease, or job contract
- Documents showing you do not have a prior criminal convictions.
- Attend your interview. Expect to be asked about the purpose of your trip, the business you are conducting, your background, and your intention to return. As much as possible, give detailed and specific answers, supporting them with relevant documents.
Can I Work In The US With A Business Visa?
No, a B1 visa does not entitle a foreign national to get employment on American soil. To be able to work in the US, a B1 visa holder must change their visa status into a work visa. Even if you have already used your B1 visa to visit the US multiple times, or even if you have a share in a US-based company, you will still need to adjust it to a work status before you can work in the country.
The B1 visa allows only limited business conduct in the US. Allowed business activities include:
- Attending business meetings
- Attending a business conference
- Negotiating or finalizing a contract
- Purchasing goods or materials
- Participating in short-term training
- Being a speaker or resource person
- Visiting US offices
- Settling an estate.
If you have questions or legal concerns regarding the B1 visa, consult with us at Richards & Jurusik for experienced guidance. Call us at 1-866-697-1832 today.