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How Visitors to the U.S. Can Bring Domestic or Personal Servants

If you are in the process of coming to the United States on a temporary nonimmigrant visa or if you are already in the U.S. on a nonimmigrant visa, you may be able to bring not only your family members, but also your nanny, maid, cook, and other domestic or personal employees. They may qualify for a B-1 visa, primarily intended for business visitors to the United States. It is a more uncommon use of the B-1 visa, evidenced by the fact that these types of visas are specially annotated with the visitor’s position.
Which types of visa holders can bring employees to the U.S.?
Below is a list of the types of visa holders that can have their domestic or personal employees apply for a B-1 visa:
• B, visitors for business or pleasure;
• E, treaty traders and investors;
• F, students;
• H, specialty workers, distinguished fashion models, nurses, temporary agricultural workers and temporary trainees;
• I, foreign media representatives;
• J, exchange visitors;
• L, intracompany transferees;
• M, vocational students;
• O, persons of extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, business or athletics;
• P, internationally recognized athletes and entertainers; and
• Q, exchange visitors participating in international cultural exchange programs.
Additionally, A-3 visas are available to the personal attendants, servants and employees of A-1 and A-2 ambassadors, diplomats and other foreign government officials. G-5 visas are also available to the attendants, servants and personal employees of G-1 through G-4 visa holders (foreign government representatives or employees of international organizations).
In some cases, these visa holders can actually obtain derivative visas for certain members of their work staff. For example, there is an O-2 visa for the essential support staff of an O-1 visa holder and P-1s are available to the essential staff of athletes and entertainers.
What are the requirements for obtaining a B-1 visa as a personal or domestic employee?
In order to qualify for the visa, the employee will have to submit an application at the same time or later than the employer proving that he or she:
• Has a residence abroad that they do not intend to abandon;
• Has at least one year of experience as a personal or domestic employee;
• Has been employed abroad by the current employer as a personal or domestic employee for at least one year prior to the date of entry to the U.S. (Alternatively, if this relationship has not existed, the employer can prove that the employment existed immediately prior to the visa application and that the employer has regularly employed personal or domestic employees over a several year period);
• Has signed an employment agreement containing statements that the employee is guaranteed the minimum or prevailing wage, whichever is greater, as well as free room and board, and that only the employer will provide work to the employee; and
• Will receive payment from the employer for initial travel expenses to the United States and to the employees’ home country at the end of the assignment.
It is also important to note that the regulations for the domestic and personal employees of U.S. citizens living abroad are slightly different from the regulations for the domestic and personal employees of nonimmigrants.
Does this visa also allow the personal or domestic employee to work in the United States?
No, the B-1 visa does not allow the personal or domestic employee to work in the United States. In order to work in the United States, the employee must apply for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD). The employee must apply for the EAD with USCIS after having arrived in the United States.
How long will the B-1 visa be issued for?
If the employer is in the U.S. on a work-based nonimmigrant visa, it is possible that the employer’s permitted stay will be longer than the employees’. An employee on a B-1 visa will be permitted no more than one year’s stay at the beginning. The employee may then apply for extensions, issued in increments of six months. The initial work permit will also only be valid through the employees’ permitted stay.
It is also important to note that if the employer leaves the U.S. earlier than intended, the employees’ B-1 status will expire as well. The employee should be careful to leave at the end of their permitted stay, as accruing unlawful presence in the U.S. can have serious consequences.
If you are interested in applying for this type of visa, please contact our office today to schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys!