B-1 Visa Requirements and Criteria for Business Professionals

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When foreign nationals need to travel to the United States for business purposes but do not intend to stay very long, they may benefit from applying for a B-1 visa. The B-1 visa is also commonly referred to as the “Temporary Business Visitor” visa. Individuals who want to set up businesses in the U.S., seek permanent residence status after investing in American enterprises or remain employed in the U.S. for any significant length of time may be eligible for alternative visas. The B-1 visa process is reserved for those businesspeople who only need to travel to America temporarily in order to complete eligible work-related tasks and functions.


B-1 Eligibility Requirements

There are a number of business purposes which may warrant the approval of a B-1 visa. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services department outlines a few eligible reasons for travel specifically. These reasons include: settling an estate; attending consultations with fellow business associates; negotiating contracts and participating in brief training sessions. In addition, many professionals utilize B-1 visas in order to attend business, scientific or educational conventions and conferences in the U.S. Additional activities may be considered eligible by USCIS, but it is generally a good idea to clear your itinerary with an experienced immigration attorney before assuming that your plans qualify you for a B-1 visa.

It is also worth noting that when evaluating your visa application, the USCIS will seek to determine whether your travel plans are sufficiently limited in scope and you have access to sufficient resources that will allow you to pay for your trip. Finally, some of the details surrounding your personal life will be evaluated in order to determine whether you intend to abandon your current residence or your presence in the U.S. is otherwise prohibited. These determinations will be made both by evaluating your application document and by conducting a visa-related personal interview.


B-1 Visa Itinerary and Interview

When preparing to work with your attorney on your B-1 application, it will be beneficial to draw up a detailed itinerary related to your plans. As many dates, details about your work-related commitments and intentions as you can provide will be helpful in two ways. First, your attorney will be able to use this information when filling out your B-1 visa application document in a complete and nuanced manner. Second, this itinerary will help you to prepare for your visa interview and to answer questions to the best of your ability.

Many individuals become understandably nervous when faced with the prospect of being interviewed for their visas. But as long as you are willing to answer questions honestly and completely, you should have no reason to fret. If your plans and intentions allow you to apply for a B-1 visa in a legitimate manner, all you really need to prepare to do is answer questions calmly and thoroughly.

Your attorney will almost certainly provide you with a list of questions in order to help you prepare for your interview. But it can be helpful to think about some general topics in advance so that you can ask your attorney any questions that may occur to you during your initial brainstorming. These topics include: details of your travel plans; your purpose for entering the U.S.; your expected date of return; details surrounding your current employment; any ties you may have to the U.S.; financial issues that may impact your trip; details about your immediate family and matters involving any co-workers who may be accompanying you on your trip.


Additional B-1 Visa Considerations

It is important to understand the restrictions that a B-1 visa imposes upon those who enter the U.S. with this non-immigration status governing their stay. First, know that you will only be granted permission initially to enter the U.S. for a maximum of six months. You may opt to extend your B-1 visa stay for an additional six months, depending on the circumstances surrounding your visit. If you wish to remain in the U.S. for longer than one year, you will be required to file additional paperwork with the USCIS in order to change your visa status according to your circumstances.

In addition, it is important to speak with your attorney if you intend to bring any family members along with you on your trip. Neither spouses nor children of eligible businesspeople are allowed to enter the country as B-1 visa dependents. Instead, they must be approved for travel to the U.S. via individual B-2 visa applications.

Finally, it is worth noting that some B-1 visa candidates may be required to submit an employment authorization document as part of their application process. For example, certain employees of foreign airlines, domestic servants and personal care workers are often required to submit this kind of authorization documentation.


Immigration Assistance Is Available

It is important to begin work on your visa application in a timely manner. Waiting until the last minute may not only result in otherwise preventable delays, you may miss an application deadline window that renders you unable to follow through with your travel plans. Whether you are looking to visit the U.S. temporarily or would like to live, work and/or set up a business on American soil, we can help you navigate the complex process of securing a visa.