USA and the UK
- What is a B1 Business Visitor Visa?
- Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) Program
- B1 Visa Requirements
- B1 Visa Application Process
- Required B1 Visa Documents
- EVUS Program for Chinese nationals
- B1 Visa Extension
- B1 Visa Fees
- What is the difference between a B1 and B2 visa?
- Frequently Asked Questions
What is a B1 Business Visitor Visa?
A B1 visa is a nonimmigrant visa that allows foreign citizens to enter the United States temporarily for business purposes.
Under this business visa, the visa holder may take part in business activities of a commercial or professional nature such as:
- Consulting with business associates
- Taking part in business trips such as attending a scientific, educational, professional, or business convention or conference
- Settling an estate
- Negotiating contracts
- Attending business meetings or consultations
It is important to note that a B1 Visa does not allow you to do the following:
- Travel to the United States for the primary purpose of giving birth in the U.S. in order to obtain U.S. citizenship for their child
- Participate in paid performances or any other paid professional performance before a paying audience
- Work on foreign press (journalists and media personnel will need to apply for an I visa)
- Participate in long-term employment such as starting your company’s U.S. branch or managing a business
If you wish to visit the U.S. for vacation, to visit family members, or even to receive medical treatment, you can apply for a B2 Visitor Visa. There are no caps on the amount of B1 visitor visas issued per year.
Citizens of certain countries who are in the visa waiver program, do not need to apply for a U.S. Business visa. Instead, they can apply for an Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA). Those who choose to apply via the ESTA program will receive a business travel permit much faster without having to go to a U.S. Consulate or Embassy.
However, unlike a B1 visa which is valid for six months, travel permits acquired through the ESTA program only last for 90 days. All those business travelers who do not qualify for the visa waiver program will need to apply for a B1 visa through a U.S. Consulate or Embassy.
B1 Visa Requirements
The B1 visa requirements are relatively simple and not as strict as other U.S. visas and include the following:
- The applicant’s purpose of entering the United States is temporary (for a limited period of time) and business-related
- The applicant can submit evidence to show that they have sufficient funds to support themselves while traveling in the United States
- The applicant can provide evidence of a residence outside the United States as well as other significant ties to their foreign country which they will return to once their authorized stay expires
If the applicant can submit evidence that satisfies these eligibility requirements, they can then begin their B1 visa application in the country where they are a citizen or permanent resident. It should be noted that spouses and children of B 1 visa holders are not eligible for a dependent visa. Therefore, if you would like for your family to travel with you to the United States, they will need to apply for a B2 visa.
B1 Visa Application Process
If you decide that a B1 business visa is right for you, you will need to begin the visitor visa application at your nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. The application is fairly simple and includes the following steps:
- Complete Form DS-160 (Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application)
- Pay the visa fees
- Schedule your visa interview
- Gather together the required documents for your visa
- Attend the interview
Form DS-160 is an online used for most nonimmigrant visas. This form will ask you about your background as well as the purpose of your visit to the U.S. After you have completed it online, you will be shown a confirmation page and number. It is important to print this page out and keep it safe as it will be needed later in the application process.
After you have completed the DS-160 online form, you will need to schedule a visa interview at the nearest Embassy or Consulate in your home country. All applicants between the ages of 14-79 must attend.
Make sure that the information that you submitted on the DS-160 form is up to date as you will be asked questions regarding your background and the purpose of the visit by a consular officer in your visa interview. If the information on the form does not match up with the information provided in the interview, your visa could be denied.
In addition, make sure that you bring the necessary documents with you as you may need to submit them to the consular officer.
Required B1 Visa Documents
In order to qualify for approval of a B1 visa, visa applicants will need to make sure that they have provided sufficient evidence to support their application. The documents you may include to support your application may include the following:
- Form DS-160 confirmation page
- A passport valid for at least 6 months after your intended stay
- Application fee receipt
- Details of your social media accounts (including the platforms used and your usernames)
- The interview confirmation page (you will need this to enter the U.S. Embassy or Consulate)
- A photo that complies with the US Visa photo requirements (you will need to upload a photo when you complete the DS-160 online form. If you can not upload it, then you will need to submit a photo at your interview)
- A letter detailing the purpose of your trip
- Financial or bank statements to prove you have enough funds to support yourself while traveling in the U.S.
- Any supporting documents that show you have significant ties to your home country such as family, employment contracts, mortgage or lease agreements, etc.
- Criminal records or letters from local authorities stating that you do not have prior convictions
- Any documents relating to past U.S. visas (if applicable)
- A letter from your employer detailing the purpose of the trip and your job position
- Employment payslips from the last 3 months
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EVUS Program for Chinese nationals
In an agreement between the United States and China to extend visa validity, Chinese citizens can be granted B1, B2, or B1/B2 visas in Chinese passports that have a validity period of up to 10 years. However, in order to maintain this validity, Chinese visa holders will be required to update their biographical and other information from their visa application on the Electronic Visa Update System (EVUS).
Updates will need to be done every 2 years or when a new passport is obtained. The EVUS website is now open to the public at www.evus.gov and is currently without an EVUS enrollment fee. For further information about the EVUS program, you can visit www.cbp.gov/EVUS where both the Department of Homeland Security and Customs and Borders Protection will keep visa holders informed of any new changes to the system.
It should be noted that visa validity is different from the duration of stay. For example, the visa may be valid for 10 years but only allows a maximum stay of 6 months at a time. The visa applicant’s intended duration of stay will be recorded by the Customs and Border Protection officer at the U.S. port of entry on the visitor’s I-94 Form.
B1 Visa Extension
The maximum initial period of stay for both the B1 and B2 Visa is six months. When arriving in the United States, you will initially be admitted only for the period necessary to perform services related to your business.
If you need more time to carry out your business-related duties, you may apply for a B1 visa extension before your visa expires. To do this, you will need to submit an I-539 Form (Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status).
If the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) approves your supporting documents, you will be granted a B1 visa extension for up to a further six months. However, the total maximum allowable stay is one year in total.
If you initially arrived in the U.S. under a B1 Visa, you can remain in the country for pleasure until your permit expires. It is important not to overstay your visa. According to the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), failure to leave the United States before your visa expires will result in the individual being out of status. If you are without proper visa status for a significant amount of time, you may be ineligible for both nonimmigrant and immigrant visas in the future.
B1 Visa Fees
Before you attend your interview, you will need to pay the application fee which is $160. This is non-refundable and payment is due before your interview. If your B1 visa is approved, you may also need to pay an issuance fee depending on your nationality. For further information about the issuance fee, visit the travel.gov website.
What is the difference between a B1 and B2 Visa?
The B-1 visa and B-2 visa both fall into the visitor visa category which allows for temporary travel to the United States. However, the B1 Visa is primarily used for foreign citizens to come to the United States for business purposes. The B2 Visa, however, can be used for a variety of purposes such as visiting relatives or friends, tourism and vacations, enrollment in short study courses, or receiving medical treatment.
According to the Enhanced Border Security and Visa Entry Reform Act of 2002, all U.S. visas are mandated to have biometric information such as a photograph and digital fingerprint scans which will be taken at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate prior to entry into the United States.
The processing time for a B-1 visa will depend on the workload and backlogs of the U.S. Embassy or Consulate to which you are applying. It could take anywhere from a couple of weeks or months for you to receive a decision on whether or not your application was approved.
B1 visa holders are permitted to stay in the U.S. for up to 6 months without an extension.
Our team understands the importance of every business and is here to help you with the legal jargon when applying for a B1 Visa.
With our service, your dedicated immigration lawyer will:
- Review your reasons for wanting to visit and check they meet the B1 Visa requirements
- Prepare a strong portfolio of evidence to prove your willingness to return to your home country
- Liaise with the USCIS to support your application
- File and submit your Form DS-160
Call us on +1 844 290 6312. today to speak with one of our professional advisers to learn more about your B1 Visa application.