Tips for Doing Business in the U.S.
The B-1 Business Visitor Category
The B-1 nonimmigrant visa category allows certain visitors to enter the U.S. for limited and specific business activities. B-1 visitors cannot engage in any activity or perform a service that would constitute local employment for hire within the U.S., and the category is not meant for extended, long-term activity.
What can I do as a B-1 Business Visitor?
Generally, business activities performed in the U.S. are directly connected with and part of (or “necessary and incidental” to) the B-1 visitor’s regular work abroad. This covers a wide range of activities such as:
- Attending and participating in scientific, educational, professional, or business meetings, conventions, conferences, or seminars;
- Consulting with business associates;
- Engaging in negotiations and executing contracts;
- Taking orders for goods produced and located outside the U.S. (NOTE: B-1 Visitors can NOT complete or fill the actual order while in the U.S.);
- Researching options for opening a business in the U.S. (such as locating or entering into a lease for office space).
A business visitor may also come to the U.S. to secure funding for a new business. However, after securing the funding, the person cannot remain in the U.S. to start actual business operations or to manage the business or employees in the states. For long-term or frequent professional-level work, management, and other hands-on activities in the U.S., a foreign national must obtain formal work authorization through an appropriate visa category, such as the L-1, TN, E-2, O-1, or other nonimmigrant or immigrant classification.
How can I prove I am a Business Visitor?
B-1 visitors should be prepared to show they have strong ties abroad. The government typically looks for evidence that the visitor has sufficient funds to cover the expenses of the trip. Business visitors must also maintain a permanent residence abroad. Therefore, it is recommended to travel with evidence of a lease or property ownership abroad, proof of employment abroad, strong financial ties outside the U.S. (tax return or recent bank statement), and a round trip ticket or detailed itinerary of B-1 activities when possible.
How long can I stay in the U.S. as a Business Visitor?
The maximum period of initial admission to the U.S. as a B-1 nonimmigrant is typically six months, but the actual period of admission may be for a period of time which is fair and reasonable for completion of the purpose of the visit.
Canadians are visa exempt and do not need a visa to enter the U.S. Foreign nationals of certain countries may also qualify for a limited 90-day entry with ESTA under the visa waiver program. Other foreign nationals will need to attend a visa interview abroad at a U.S. Consulate or Embassy before they can enter the U.S.
Individuals who frequently enter the U.S. as a business visitor or who develop a repeated pattern may find that over time, they are scrutinized more closely with each entry. Before you encounter problems at the border, contact Berardi Immigration Law. Our attorneys will assess your unique situation and determine the best strategy to preserve your ability to continue doing business in the U.S.