B-1 Visitor Visa
General B-1 Visa Classification
1. B-1 Business Visitor Visa:
Under U.S. immigration law, a foreign citizen who has a residence outside the U.S., which he or she has no intention of abandoning, may temporarily visit the U.S. for business purposes under the B-1 Business Visitor visa classification. INA s. 101 (a) (15) (B). Foreign citizens may not qualify for B-1 visa status to perform skilled or unskilled labor or study in the U.S. Id.
Individuals may not utilize the B-1 visa classification for “ordinary labor.” Instead, the B-1 visa is appropriate only for activities that are of a commercial character and a necessary incident to international trade or commerce. Matter of Hira, 11 I. & N. Dec. 824 (BIA 1965).
An individual may qualify for B-1 visa status if: (i) the applicant has a clear intent to continue his or her foreign residence and not abandon his or her existing domicile; (ii) the principal place of business and the actual place where profits accrue remain predominantly outside the U.S.; (iii) the applicant’s entries to the U.S. are plainly temporary in nature. Matter of Hira, 11 I. & N. Dec. 824 (BIA 1965).
2. Business Activities Permitted under B-1 Visa:
According to the Inspector's Field Manual Chapter 15.4, the following activities are permissible under the B-1 visa classification provided the foreign citizen does not receive any salary or other remuneration from a U.S. source (other than an expense allowance or other reimbursement for expenses incidental to the temporary stay):
(1) A foreign citizen coming to the U.S. to: engage in commercial transactions (i.e., buying or selling) which do not involve gainful employment in the US; negotiate contracts; consult with business associates, including attending meetings of the Board of Directors of a U.S. corporation; litigate; participate in scientific, educational, professional, or business conventions, conferences, or seminars; or undertake independent research;
(2) A foreign citizen coming to engage in activities that would be classifiable under the H-3 visa category except that there is no U.S. employer involved, and is either studying at a foreign medical school and is seeking to enter the U.S. temporarily to taken an ''elective clerkship'' (practical experience and instruction in the various disciplines of the practice of medicine under the supervision and direction of faculty physicians) at a U.S. medical school's hospital without remuneration from that hospital or undertaking training at the behest of a foreign employer by whom the foreign citizen is already employed abroad and from whom the foreign citizen will continue to receive his or her salary while in training in the United States;
(3) A foreign citizen coming to install, service, or repair commercial or industrial equipment or machinery purchased from a company outside the U.S. or to train U.S. workers to perform such services. (However, in such cases the contract of sale must specifically require the seller to provide such services or training, and the foreign citizen must possess specialized knowledge essential to the seller's contractual obligation to perform the services or training and must receive no remuneration from a U.S. source. These provisions do not apply to a foreign citizen seeking to perform building or construction work, whether on-site or in-plant except for a foreign citizen who is applying as a B-1 for the purpose of supervising or training other workers engaged in building or construction work, but not actually performing any such building or construction work);
(4) A professional athlete, such as a golfer or tennis player, who receives no salary or payment other than prize money for his or her participation in a tournament or sporting event;
(5) An athlete or team member who seeks to enter the U.S. as a member of a foreign-based team in order to compete with another sports team (provided: the foreign athlete and the foreign sports team have their principal place of business or activity in a foreign country; the income of the foreign based team and the salary of its players are principally accrued in a foreign country; and the foreign based sports team is a member of an international sports league or the sporting activities involved have an international dimension);
(6) An amateur team sports player who is asked to join a professional team during the course of the regular professional season or playoffs for brief try-outs (The teams may provide only for such expenses as round-trip fare, hotel room, meals, and other try-out transportation costs);
(7) A professional entertainer coming to: (i) participate only in a cultural program sponsored by the sending country; who will be performing before a nonpaying audience; and all of whose expenses, including per diem, will be paid by the member's government; or (ii) participate in a competition for which there is no remuneration other than a prize (monetary or otherwise) and expenses;
(8) Crewman of a private yacht, regardless of the nationality of the private yacht, provided the yacht will be sailing out of a foreign home port and cruising in U.S. waters;
(9) A foreign citizen coming to perform his or her responsibilities as a ''coasting officer'' (A coasting officer is used when an officer of a foreign vessel is granted home leave while the vessel is in U.S. ports. The vessel does not remain in U.S. waters for more than 29 days, and the original officer returns in time to depart with the vessel. The coasting officer may then repeat the process with another vessel of the same foreign line);
(10) A foreign citizen seeking investment in the U.S. which would qualify him or her for E-2 status (an E-2 investor is precluded from performing productive labor or from actively participating in the management of the business prior to being granted E-2 status);
(11) A foreign citizen performing services pursuant to the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act Amendments of 1978 (The consular officer will annotate ''OCS'' on the B-1 visa). Foreign citizen construction workers who are entering to work from a derrick barge to construct an oil platform on the outer continental shelf are considered to man and crew the barge, not the platform. Foreign-owned barges are exempt from the requirements of 43 U.S.C. 1356(a)(3) which requires that any vessel, rig, platform, or structure used in regulated operations on the outer continental shelf be manned or crewed by U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents. The Immigration and Nationality Act does not apply to foreign citizens who are manning or crewing foreign-owned derrick barges on the outer continental shelf. Foreign citizens passing through the U.S. en route to the outer continental shelf must have an appropriate visa, usually a B-1 visa. (In 1997, the Supreme Court denied certification of a D.C. circuit court decision on this issue);
(12) A personal or domestic servant who is accompanying or following to join a U.S. citizen employer who has a permanent home or is stationed in a foreign country, and who is visiting the U.S. temporarily, provided the employer-employee relationship existed prior to the commencement of the employer's visit to the United States;
(13) A personal or domestic servant who is accompanying or following to join a U.S. citizen employer temporarily assigned to the United States (The consular officer will annotate ''personal or domestic servant of U.S. citizen (employer's name)'' on the B-1 visa);
(14) A personal or domestic servant who is accompanying or following to join a foreign employer who seeks admission into or is already in the U.S. in B, E, F, H, I, J, L, M, O, P, or R nonimmigrant status (The consular officer will annotate ''personal or domestic servant of nonimmigrant alien (employer's name)'' on the B-1 visa);
(15) A foreign citizen seeking to enter the U.S. for employment with a foreign airline engaged in international transportation of passengers and freight in an executive, supervisory, or highly technical capacity who meets the requirements for E visa classification but is precluded from entitlement to E classification solely because there is no treaty of friendship, commerce, and navigation in effect between the U.S. and the country of the foreign citizen's nationality or because he or she is not a national of the airline's country of nationality;
(16) A foreign citizen coming to perform services on behalf of a foreign based employer as a jockey, sulky driver, trainer, or groom (Such foreign citizen is not allowed to work for any other employer);
(17) A foreign citizen coming to open or be employed in a new branch, subsidiary, or affiliate of the foreign employer, if the foreign citizen will become eligible for status as an L-1 upon securing proof of acquisition of physical premises;
(18) An employee of a foreign airline coming to pick-up aircraft if he or she is not transiting the U.S. and is not admissible as a crewman (The foreign citizen must present a letter from the foreign airline verifying the employment and official capacity of the applicant in the United States);
(19) A foreign citizen coming exclusively to observe the conduct of business or other professional or vocational activity, provided the foreign citizen pays for his or her own expenses;
(20) A foreign citizen coming to participate in any program of furnishing technical information and assistance under section 635(f) of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 (75 Stat. 424);
(21) A foreign citizen coming to participate in the training of Peace Corps volunteers or coming under contract pursuant to sections 9 and 10(a)(4) of the Peace Corps Act (75 Stat. 612), unless the alien qualifies for ''A'' classification;
(22) A foreign citizen coming to participate in the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) internship program, who is not an employee of a foreign government;
(23) A foreign citizen coming to plan, construct, dismantle, maintain, or be employed in connection with exhibits at international fairs or expositions if he or she is an employee of a foreign exhibitor and is not a foreign government representative and does not qualify for ''A'' classification;
(24) A foreign citizen coming to participate in a voluntary service program benefiting U.S. local communities, who establishes that he or she is a member of and has a commitment to a particular recognized religious or nonprofit charitable organization and that no salary or remuneration will be paid from a U.S. source, other than an allowance or other reimbursement for expenses incidental to the volunteer's stay in the United States. (The foreign citizen must present to the officer a written statement indicating his or her name, date and place of birth, the foreign permanent residence address, the name and address of initial U.S. destination, and anticipated duration of assignment); and
(25) A foreign citizen employee of an international bridge commission coming to plan, construct, maintain or operate bridge facilities at a port of entry within the immediate confines of the bridge area.
3. Construction Workers Not Permitted under B-1 Visa:
Individuals may not receive B-1 visitor visa status to perform building or construction work, whether on-site or in-plant. However, individuals may receive B-1 visitor visa status to supervise or train others engaged in building or construction work. These individuals cannot perform any building or construction work themselves. 8 C.F.R. s. 214.2 (b) (5).
4. Study Prohibited under B-1 Visa:
Individuals may not enroll in a "course of study" under B-1 visitor visa status. Such an individual will need to file for F-1 or M-1 visa student status instead. 8 C.F.R. s. 214.2 (b) (7). See also USCIS - Special Instructions B1/B2 & School (2010).
5. More Information:
- INA s. 101 (a) (15) (B).
- 8 C.F.R. s. 214.2 (b).
- Matter of Hira, 11 I. & N. Dec. 824 (BIA 1965).
- Legacy INS B-1 Visa Overview (06-2000).
- Inspector's Field Manual Chapter 15.4.
Revised June 7, 2010.