If you have to enter the US for temporary business, you may need a B1 visa, also known as the ‘Visitor for Business’ Visa. These are similar to the B2 tourist visas, and are in fact often issued jointly. If you have a planned business trip, you may want to secure a B-1 visa before you travel to the US. A B-1 visa qualifies you to enter the US temporarily in order to:
- take part in negotiations
- seek out investment or sales opportunities
- take part in meetings about planned buys or investments
- make purchases or investments
- take part in any business meetings
- interview and hire workers and staff
- take part in temporary business activities for a short, set period of time while maintaining a permanent residence in your home country
If you want to enter the US temporarily for any of these reasons, you can generally do so with a B1 visa, or a business visa. However, if you want to work in the US, run a business in the US or from the US, or will be paid by a US organization for your time in the US, you will need a working visa. You will also need a working visa if you will be taking part in sporting or entertainment events as a professional. A B1 business visa will not permit you to work in the US or stay in the US for an extended period of time Ãš you will need to maintain a permanent residence outside of the US and not accept work in the US if you will be traveling on the B-1 visa.
The problem for many business travelers to the US is that it is sometimes hard to determine what constitutes gainful employment (and therefore requires a working visa) and what constitutes temporary business activity. In general, you will want to check and double-check your itinerary before you travel to ensure that nothing violates the terms of your B1 visa. If you think you can enter the US on a B-1 visa for your purposes, be sure to bring plenty of documentation to prove your business in the US and to show that your activities will not violate the terms of the business visa. In fact, it is best to err on the side of caution and bring plenty of documentation, proving your permanent job and residence in your home country and your return tickets back home, showing that your stay in the US will be very temporary.
You may also wish to err on the side of caution and secure an H1B visa if you are not sure that a B1 visa will suffice. The H1B visa allows you to enter the US for six months and up to one year in order to conduct business in the US. This visa will generally allow you to receive payment and accept gainful employment in the US. If you are not sure which visa you need, consult the USCIS for more information about different visa categories.