US Immigration: What is
a B-1 Visa?

The B-1 visa is a classification of US visa designed to accommodate temporary business visits. This short-term visa category does not allow for gainful employment or productive activity.

With a valid B-1 visa, an individual may enter the United States for up to six months, with the possibility to extend their stay providing they continue to meet the purpose of the visit and fall within the permissible activities under the visa.

What activities are permitted on a B-1 visa?

As with many visa categories, there is often a thin line between what is considered ‘business’ and what would amount to ‘work’.

Trying to determine which activities fall into each category can sometimes prove to be a difficult task. However, the United States government have provided some guidance to assist with this.

Below is a non-exhaustive list of some permissible activities that fall under the B-1 visa route. All activities should not lead to gainful employment or result in receiving a salary or other remuneration or forms of compensation. On a B-1 visa, individuals may carry out the following:

  • Contractual negotiations, negotiating and signing contracts for products which are produced outside the US.
  • Attend business meetings, conferences and discussions with trading partners.
  • Research, including independent or market research.
  • Preliminary activities involved in setting up a new business in the US, such as opening a bank account.
  • Tour and set-up an investment in the US.
  • Installation service, or repair of commercial and industrial equipment.
  • Participate in a training programme that is not designed to provide employment.
  • Participate in an exhibition, including taking orders.
  • Participate in litigation by testifying in the US courts of law.
  • Participate in education, scientific or professional conferences, seminars and conventions.

How and where do I apply for a B-1 visa?

The first step in the application process is to complete an online form (DS-160), with all your personal details. The second step involves paying the online application fee and scheduling a pre-arranged interview, which all applicants aged between the ages of 14 and 79 are required to attend.

Non-immigrant visas such as the B-1 visa are processed at the US Embassy or US Consulate in your respective country, for instance in the UK they would be processed in the Embassy in London or the Consulate General in Belfast. As for processing times, successful applications usually take three to five working days to process, although processing times can vary as all applications are considered on a case-by-case basis.

Which supporting documents are required?

As part of the application process, you will need to provide some supporting documentation. You will need to submit the following documents:

  • Confirmation page of the application form
  • Appointment confirmation page, if applicable
  • Passport or other travel document
  • One 5x5cm colour photograph taken within the last six months
  • Evidence of your status in respective country
  • Evidence of previously issued US visas, if any
  • Evidence of your intended business activities, including providing letters from your employer
  • Immigration and Criminal History
  • You may be required to show that you have sufficient funds to cover all expenses while in the United States, and may need to provide a residence abroad to which you intend to return.

Support with US immigration

If you have any US immigration queries, please contact the SSW global immigration team. We are able to provide full support with the visa application process and also post–arrival assistance.

With the help of our global network, we are well equipped to navigate international law and assist with the processing of your visa, whilst ensuring that local immigration rules are met thereafter.

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