The B-1 visa is a visa granting foreign individuals the right to temporarily visit the United States for a specific purpose. It primarily serves individuals participating in a commercial or professional business activity within the United States.
While the B-1 is a very popular visa, it is also common that individuals present in the United States on a B-1 visa seek to change their status to another visa. The B-1 visa is a non-immigrant visa, meaning that individuals holding the visa cannot have the intention of remaining in the United States permanently.
Generally, applying for another non-immigrant visa while in the United States on a B-1 visa is fine. This is particularly common when perspective students come to the United States to visit schools. Once they have identified as school, applied, and are accepted, the B-1 visa holder may petition for a F-1 school visa.
Applying for an immigrant visa while in the United States on a B-1 non-immigrant visa status is not generally permitted. The reason is because of what is required to receive a non-immigrant visa. The B-1 requires a showing that the applicant indeed intends to return to their home country. Filing for a non-immigrant visa status while in the US demonstrates a contrary intent. There are exceptions, however, for certain types of adjustments of status. For example, if the B-1 visa holder gets married while in the United States, s/he can file for adjustment of status without demonstrating a contrary intent at the time of filing for the B-1 visa.
To understand what is required to adjust one’s status, it’s important to understand who qualifies for the visa, what is required to receive the visa, and then the process for adjusting one’s status.
What is Required to Qualify for a B-1 Visa?
The B-1 visa can only be used for visits to the United States to undertake a few limited types of activity. The qualifying types of activities include:
Meeting or consulting with business associates in the United States;
Traveling to the United States for a scientific, educational, professional or business convention, or a conference taking place on specific dates;
Administering or working through a state probate court to settle the estate of a decedent;
To negotiate the terms or execution of a contract related to a business activity;
To participate in a short-term, business or professional training program;
Transiting through the United States: certain persons may transit the United States with a B-1 visa;
Certain air crewmen may enter the United States as deadhead crew with a B-1 visa.
As you can see, most of these categories are business-related. As such, the applicant must generally demonstrate that her sole purpose in the United States is related to that business purpose. Now, let’s discuss what the applicant must demonstrate to qualify for the B-1 visa.
The required presumption under U.S. law is that every visitor visa applicant is an intending immigrant until they demonstrate otherwise. Successfully applying for a B-1 Visa requires the applicant to demonstrate the following in order to be eligible for the visa:
Business Purpose – Remember, the purpose of your trip is to enter the United States for a legitimate business purpose. Part of the application process requires you to substantiate this purpose. This generally means providing information about the business activity at issue. The standard is to convince the consular officer that you have this purpose and this purpose alone in visiting.
Time Period – You must demonstrate that you have the intention to return to your home country. As such, you must demonstrate that your business purpose is finite in nature. I recommend providing documentation of the details of your business purpose for visiting (such as a conference agenda or details of the relevant business transaction).
Financing – Not having adequate financing to carry out a visit and return is evidence that an individual does not intend to return. As such, you must demonstrate that you have the funds to cover the expenses of the trip and your stay in the United States. Of course, extraordinary shifts or arrangements of incomes could indicate the contrary.
Foreign Residence – You must be able to demonstrate that you have a residence outside the United States to which you intend to return. You do not need to own your residence, but you must be able to identify a place where you actually reside. If you cannot demonstrate a residence, it indicates that you may have an intent to remain in the US.
Catchall – You are otherwise admissible to the United States. This means that you do not have any previously disqualifying attributes, such as a criminal history, from a country with a travel bad, or subject to exile.
What is the Application Process for a B-1 Visa?
The B-1 Visa application process generally proceeds as follows:
Completing Form DS-160, Nonimmigrant Visa Application – The form is completed and submitted online. Once you have submitted Form DS160, print the confirmation page and bring it to your interview at the consulate or embassy. You must include your photo in the online application.
Application Fee – Along with the application, you must pay the non-refundable visa application fee. You are required to pay it before you go to the next step of schedule an interview at the local consulate.
Visit Embassy or Consulate Interview – The applicant schedule an interview at the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate in the country where s/he lives. (Note: While it is possible to apply from other countries, it is more difficult to qualify for a visa outside of the country where you live.) The processing time for the visa can be drawn out, so it is important to apply well in advance of your intended travel. A consular officer will interview you to make certain that you meet the requirements for the B-1 Visa. Make certain to visit the website of the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you will be applying. Each consulate or embassy will have its own process for scheduling a B-1 visa interview. (Note: An interview is generally noted required for individuals 13 years old and younger or individuals 80 years old and older. There are some exceptions for the interview process for individuals between 14 and 79 years old for renewals of Visa application. A consular officer has the authority to require an interview with any applicant.)
Waiting Period – Once the application is filed, there is a waiting period to allow processing of the visa application and scheduling of the interview. The time period for scheduling an interview varies based upon the location, season, and workload of the applicable embassy or consulate.
Finger Printing – During the visa application process, an ink-free, digital fingerprint scan will be taken.
Further Administrative Processing – Some visa applications require further administrative processing. This generally occurs when there is some suspicion of the applicants intent or inconsistency in the application and interview. If additional administrative processing is required, it is generally resolve within 60 days.
Visa Issuance Fee – If the B-1 Visa application is ultimately approved, you may need to pay a visa issuance fee. The issuance fee is only applicable to certain nationalities.
Passport – The passport must be current and valid for travel to the United States. This generally means your passport must be valid for at least six months beyond your period of stay in the United States (unless exempt by country-specific agreement). Each person submitting an application must have her own Passport.
Visa Stamp – An immigration official at the port of entry must authorize the admission of the B-1 Visa holder into the US. She will issue the B-1 visa holder a form I – 94.
What are the Limits on the Ability to Adjust One’s Status?
As previously discussed, you cannot demonstrate a contrary intent than what was stated in your B-1 visa application. Again, this is generally not a problem for another non-immigrant visa application, but it can cause problems when seeking an immigrant visa.
One major problem when seeking to adjust one’s status is the time period for doing so. Many visa applications take several months to process the various requirements. This is particularly true for visa applications involving a labor certification.
This is a major problem for the B-1 visa holder. The B-1 visa is granted for a period of up to 6 months (6 months is the maximum). The B-1 visa can, however, be extended for an additional 6 months. Generally, one extension for a total of 12 months is the maximum period for a single B-1 visa visit. Unfortunately, you cannot extend your B-1 if you are simultaneously applying for another visa. In fact, the form used to request an extension of the original B-1 visa is the same as is required to change one’s non-immigrant status to another visa.
As such, applying for another visa (or adjustment of status to another visa status) while in the United States on a B-1 may not be a viable option.
Changing the Status of Your B-1 Visa While in the United States
If your plans change while in the United States, you may be able to request a change in your nonimmigrant status to another category through U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Reasons for changing the status might include marriage to a U.S. citizen or receiving an offer of employment from a US employer.
While you are in the United States, receiving a change of status from USCIS does not require you to apply for a new visa. However, once you depart the United States you must apply for a new visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate in the appropriate category for your travel.
The process for changing one’s status is generally as follows:
Submit your application to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Mail a paper application to the appropriate USCIS facility (“Lockbox”) if the USCIS ELIS application option is not available.
Form I-539 – This is the form employed for applications to extend or change of status from a non-immigrant visa.
Filing Fee – The USCIS charges a filing fee, which should be paid with a check or money order made payable to the US Department of Homeland Security.
Original I-94 card – You must submit your original or a or photocopy of admission stamp and paper printout of the I-94 record.
Visa Page – Submit a photocopy of the visa page and identification page in your passport.
Visa-Specific Information – You must submit any pre-qualification documentation for the visa to which you will be switching. For example, changing to an F-1 student visa requires a photocopy of the signed I-20 issued in your name by the relevant college or university.
Financial Support – (If applicable to your new visa) submit a detailed evidence of financial support
Additional Fees – Photocopy of proof of payment of other fees related to the new visa application.
Explanation – Include a detailed letter requesting and explaining the need to change status. You will need to mention, what you told the consular officer was the purpose of your visit to the U.S. Upon entry to the U.S., what did you tell the immigration officer was the purpose of your visit?
LawTrades Knows Immigration Law
When attempting to navigate the various steps involved in adjusting one’s non-immigrant visa status, it is important to work with a competent legal professional. The legal professionals at LawTrades are experts in all matters of immigration law. They can provide you with the advice and guidance necessary to navigate the complex field of immigration law.