The United States is home to some of the richest companies on the planet. Every year, millions of people visit the United States to conduct business in the United States. Many of these visitors require a B-1 visa, which is a temporary visa that permits you to conduct certain business activities in the United States.
The B-1 visa is one of two B visitor visas available to American visitors, with the other being the B-2 visa. The B-1 and B-2 visas are two of the most popular visitor visas.
What is the B-1 Visa?
The B-1 visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows you to travel to the United States temporarily for business purposes, although you cannot engage in paid employment while in the United States.
Some of the things you are permitted to do with a B-1 visa include:
- Negotiate contracts
- Settle estates
- Consult with business associates in the United States
- Attend conferences and other professional, educational, or business events
Generally, you are limited to the above activities when visiting the United States on a B-1 visa. The primary purpose of the B-1 visa is to allow international visitors to develop business relationships in the United States throughout the duration of the visa. Once the visa expires, you can re-apply for another B-1 visa to seek re-entry to the United States at a future date or time.
What Can I Not Do with a B-1 Visa?
Some of the things you cannot do with a B-1 visitor visa include:
- Engage in full-time or part-time studies
- Work in press or journalism
- Engage in any form of employment
- Enter the country as a crewmember on an airline or ship
- Perform in an event (say, for sports or entertainment) and receive payment for it
- Seek to establish permanent residence in the United States
Do I Need to Apply for a U.S. Visa?
Citizens of 38 countries worldwide are part of the Visa Waiver Program with the United States. If you are a citizen of one of these 38 countries, then you do not need a B-1 visa to conduct business in the United States temporarily; instead, you can apply for an Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) prior to your visit to the United States. An ESTA is a much easier application than a B-1 visa. It can be completed online in minutes, for example, and does not require an in-person visit to the United States.
To determine if you need to apply for a B-1 visa or ESTA, use the following form:
ESTA Eligibility Checker
What Are the Requirements for a B-1 Visa?
A B-1 visa is one of the most popular visas for visitors to the United States. The requirements aren’t as strict as other visas. Generally, the B-1 and B-2 visas have some of the easier requirements for non-immigrant visas.
The main requirements for receiving a B-1 visa include:
- You are visiting the United States temporarily for business-related reasons
- You have sufficient finances to cover your stay
- You intend to return to your home country when your B-1 visa expires and you do not intend to remain in the United States
- You are not a security threat to the United States
If you meet all of the above qualifications, then you should have no issue getting a B-1 visa for temporary business travel to the United States.
How to Apply for the B-1 Visa
The application process for the B-1 visa is straightforward. Here are the steps:
Step 1) Complete Form DS-160
Step 2) Pay the visa application fee
Step 3) Schedule the interview
Step 4) Prepare your documents
Step 5) Attend the interview
Complete Form DS-160
DS-160 is the standard application form for all non-immigrant visas to the United States. The DS-160 form is available from your local U.S. embassy’s website. Visit the website of the U.S. embassy for your country of residence to get started. The DS-160 form will ask basic information about your background and reasons for visiting the United States. Answer truthfully under the B-1 section of the form. Once you’ve completed the form, keep the confirmation pages and confirmation code you receive.
Pay the Visa Application Fee
The B-1 visa has an application fee of $160 for most applicants. Due to reciprocity agreements, citizens of certain countries may be required to pay extra fees. Generally, however, the fee for a B-1 visa is $160. After you complete the payment, you should receive a receipt confirming the payment.
Schedule your Interview
Schedule the visa interview at your nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. You can schedule the interview after you’ve paid the visa application fee.
All applicants between ages 14 and 79 will need to attend an in-person interview prior to visiting the United States. Depending on the workload of your local U.S. embassy, wait times for an interview can be anywhere from a few days to a few months.
Prepare your Documents
You may be required to provide documents supporting your reason for visiting the U.S. for temporary business purposes. We recommend preparing these documents in advance of your embassy interview. The more documents and proof you have supporting your trip, the more likely your trip and your B-1 visa will be approved. Possible required documents include:
- Form DS-160 confirmation page and code
- Letter describing the purpose of your trip
- Financial and bank statements indicating you have sufficient funds to support yourself during your trip
- Proof of ties to your home country, like an employment contracts, a letter from your employer, a lease agreement on a home, or a local bank account
- A statement proving that you do not have a criminal record and that you have no prior convictions
- Old passports and visas from previous trips to the United States (if applicable)
- A letter from your company indicating your reason for visiting the United States on the B-1 visa
- A document explain the date and location of the work conference you are attending in the United States (if applicable)
- Pay slips and other employment-related information (like a letter from your employer) proving that you are gainfully employed
Sometimes, the consular officer will ask to see all of these documents. In other cases, you will not be required to present any of these documents. Nevertheless, it’s a good idea to be prepared prior to visiting the embassy for your interview.
Attend the Interview
Arrive early at the U.S. embassy or consulate on the day of your interview. Bring your required documents. Pass through the embassy security checkpoint. Then, wait for your interview to begin. You may have your fingerprints taken before or after your interview.
During the interview, a consular officer will ask questions to verify your B-1 visa application. He or she will ask about the purpose of your trip, for example, and whether you intend to return to your home country after your trip. The purpose of the interview is to verify the information in your application and to ensure you intend to return home after visiting the U.S.
How Long Does It Take to Process the B-1 Visa?
With some U.S. embassies and consulates, it takes just 3 to 5 days to process a standard U.S. B-1 visa. With other embassies, it can take several months. It depends on the workload of the U.S. embassy and other factors. That’s why we recommend applying for a B-1 visa well in advance of your scheduled trip to the United States.
How Long Does My B-1 Visa Last?
The B-1 visa is typically granted for a 6 month period, although certain citizens may be eligible for longer visas.
The United States assumes that six months is enough time to complete all business-related events in the United States.
If you receive a combined B-1/B-2 visa, then your visa may last anywhere from 2 years to 10 years, in which case you can travel to the United States multiple times within that period.
In rare situations, you may be able to stay in the United States beyond the expiry date of your visa. If you told the border officer your intended date of entry, and the officer approved that date, then you are entitled to remain in the United States until that date, even if it is past the date of expiry for your visa.
Check your visa to confirm the expiry date. Your visa is valid until the date of expiry on that visa or until your passport expires.
Can I Get A Green Card While Visiting the U.S. on a B-1 Visa?
You cannot typically get a green card while visiting the United States on a B-1 visa. Your B-1 visa grants you entry to the United States temporarily. You cannot enter the United States with a B-1 visa while intending to establish permanent residency.
However, there are certain unique situations where a visit to the U.S. on a B-1 visa may lead to a change in immigration status, which could lead you to establishing permanent residence (i.e. receiving a green card):
- Marry a U.S. citizen and apply for permanent residence
- Find a job in the United States where the employer is willing to sponsor your stay in the U.S. (say, an H-1B visa)
- Have family in the U.S. and apply to join them
In practice, it’s rare for a B-1 visa holder to turn into a permanent resident. Typically, you need to return to your home country and re-apply for a different visa. Unless an unexpected employment opportunity or marriage occurs while you’re in the United States, you will most likely have to return home.
Can I Bring My Dependents to the United States on a B-1 Visa?
There are no dependency visas available for B-1 visa holders. You cannot bring staff, family members, children, spouses, or others over with you on your trip to the United States under your own visa.
However, your dependents are free to apply for their own visas to enter the United States. If you are attending the United States for a work conference, for example, and your husband and children want to join you, then you can apply for a B-1 visa to visit the United States (for your temporary business purposes) while your children and husband apply with a B-2 visa (for general tourism purposes).
If you wish to visit the United States with family, then each application will be processed individually.