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B1 and B2 visitor visas

Business travelers may enter the United States using a B1, or 'Visitor for Business' Visa. In practice these visas are invariably issued as jointly with B2, or 'Visitor for Pleasure' (i.e. Tourist) visa. This practice means that, if a candidate has an old tourist visa, it may be valid for a planned business trip. For those who come under the visa-waiver scheme, details of which are provided below, there is usually no need to apply for a visit visa at all if the candidate wishes to visit the US for three months or less.

While in the US as a business visitor, an individual may:

  • • Conduct Negotiations
  • • Solicit sales or investment.
  • • Discuss planned investment or purchases.
  • • Make investments or purchases.
  • • Attend Meetings, and participate in them fully.
  • • Interview and hire staff.
  • • Conduct research.

If you already have a B1/B2 visa, we can set a one week long appointment which will allow you come to the US to conduct negotiations, discuss your investment and get started with the process of setting up your US Company.

If you do NOT already have a B1/B2 visa, we can arrange to send you an invitation letter to come sign contracts, complete negotiations, check out businesses for sale, and make investments / purchases.

We only provide business invitation letters to clients who are serious about expanding and making real investments in the U.S.

The following activities require a working visa, and may not be carried out by business visitors:

  • • Running a business.
  • • "Gainful employment".
  • • Payment by an organization within the US.
  • • Participating as a professional in entertainment or sporting events.

There is a considerable 'gray area' in between what is allowed and what isn't. It is advisable to err on the side of caution when bringing overseas persons into the USA on business visitor visas.

Those entering on visitor visas will generally be granted 6 months admission on entry. It may be possible to obtain a six-month extension to the visit visa as long as the candidate will be maintaining visitor status, and there are good reasons to do so. It is sometimes possible to change status to another longer - term visa whilst in the US as a visitor, as long as the candidate advised the relevant US Embassy or Consulate of this possibility beforehand, or there was no pre-conceived intent to do so.

B1/B2 visas should generally be applied for in a country of which the candidate is a Citizen or permanent resident. Applications made in other countries often run a high risk of being turned down.

If the necessary conditions are satisfied then the applicant can apply for a visa. We help the client through the process.

The Visa Waiver Pilot Program:

As long as they are travelling on a participating airline (i.e. most scheduled airlines from participating countries), and hold a return or onward ticket to a country other than Canada, Citizens of the following countries do not need a visa for visits to the US of up to 90 days:

Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brunei, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom.

Those present in the US under the visa waiver scheme are subject to basically the same conditions as those on a B1/B2 visa, except that it is not usually possible to extend the visa waiver while in the US or change to another visa.

FYI: Visitors on private aircraft will require a B1/B2 visa.

The B1 in lieu of an H1B

In certain, limited circumstances the US Consulate may issue an employment-authorized B1 visa where the work to be undertaken would usually require an H1B visa. This provision is particularly applicable to situations where you may need a non-US company to send a member of staff to the US for a limited period in order to undertake specific projects for you, or where you wish to bring in an employee of an overseas subsidiary, affiliate or parent for a limited period. We can help make sure you satisfy all the requirements before you apply.

The B1 in lieu of H-1 visa generally takes 1 to 2 weeks to obtain, and considerably more supporting documentation is required than for a normal B1 visa. Periods of admission and extension are the same as for the standard B1 visa (i.e. generally 6 months).

It should be noted that in rare circumstances, holders of this visa encounter problems when trying to enter the US.

This is because while it is issued by a US Consulate or Embassy, it has not been formally recognized by US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). For more information, please contact us.

In addition to your passport, and standard documents, Business (B1) visa seekers should also consider taking other documents to the visa interview that we will advise you of.

If your reason is to negotiate or finalize a contract, copies of the contracts should be provided.

Arrange the documents neatly and be ready to provide them when asked for.

US Visa

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