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B-1 business visas for individuals doing business in the U.S. 


If you need to come to the U.S. to conduct business, the B-1 business visitor's visa is your probable bet. This visa permits entry into the U.S. for a period of time necessary to conclude the business activity. A foreign business person coming to the U.S. may do so provided she is participating in a "legitimate activity". There are certain restrictions imposed by the Department of State defining what a legitimate activity is.

Generally, the activity conducted by the foreign business person must be for the benefit of a company located in another country. He cannot be employed by a U.S. company and receive payment for his services. An example of an individual engaging in legitimate activity is a sales representative from a Taiwan computer company coming to the U.S. to negotiate and close sales contracts.

To qualify for a B-1 visa, there are five conditions that the alien must satisfy:

  1. The businesswoman will be entering the U.S. for a temporary period of time;

  2. She plans to leave the U.S. upon the expiration of her stay;

  3. She has a foreign residence that she does not intend to abandon;

  4. She has adequate financial arrangements to support herself while she is in the U.S.; and 

  5. She will participate only in legitimate business activities.

When applying for a B-1 visa at a overseas U.S. consulate, the following documents should be ready to present to the reviewing officer.

A supporting letter from the employer. This letter should explain the purpose of the trip and provide details as to the person's itinerary. It is also helpful for the company to state they will be paying the businessman's salary and not a company located in the United States. The letter should also state that the employee has continued employment with the overseas company.

Additional supporting documentation may also be brought to the U.S. consulate to improve the chances of getting a B-1 visa. This documentation could be a letter from the client(s) in the U.S. inviting a representative from the foreign company to come and conduct business with them. A company catalogue or report describing the foreign company is a good way to inform officers about the foreign company, especially if the company is small and not well-known. Round-trip air tickets help to demonstrate an intent to return to the home country after the business activity has been finalized.

In the event the businesswoman needs more time to conclude her work, B-1 visas may be extended. To do so, the person needs to complete a Form I-539- -an application to extend the nonimmigrant status. She will also need to submit a copy of her I-94 card. A check for the filing fee must be submitted as well as a company letter describing why her visa needs to be extended. The letter should also reiterate the points brought up in the first letter presented to the U.S. consulate (i.e. he will continue to be employed and receive financial support from his overseas company).




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