The US, besides being a popular tourist destination and a place where people want to find jobs, it is also a great place to do business.
The US has created the US visitor visas to cover business and touristic purposes:
- B1 visa, for business visits to the US.
- B2 visa, which allows you to enter the US with the purpose of tourism, pleasure, or visit friends and family.
What is the B1 visa?
The B1 visa is a non-immigrant US visa that permits visitors to enter the US. for business purposes.
B1 visa holders can engage in the following activities:
- Negotiate contracts.
- Consult with business associates in the US.
- Settle estates.
- Attend conferences, educational, professional, or business events.
Besides these activities above, all others are forbidden with a B1 visa. Those who have this visa, cannot do the following:
- Become a full or part-time student.
- Perform and get paid for it.
- Work in press or journalism.
- Engage in any form of employment.
- Enter as a crewmember on an aircraft or ship.
- Seek permanent residence in the US.
The benefit of the B1 visa is that you can develop business relationships and visit the US as many times as necessary for business. After your visa expires, you can always apply for another one. The US business visas do not have a cap so there are no rules as to how many visas can be issued per year.
Do I need to Apply for a B1 Visa?
If you are a citizen of one of the countries in the Visa Waiver Program, you will not need to apply for the visa. You can apply for an Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) instead. With the ESTA program, you will not be required to go to the US Embassy in person and can get the visa much faster.
If you are unsure whether you need to apply for a B1 visa, you can use our ESTA eligibility checker:
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B1 Visa Eligibility Criteria
The US business visa requirements are not as strict as other visas, but you must fulfill them in order to qualify. To be eligible for a business visa USA, you must meet these eligibility criteria:
- That your intent for visiting is business related
- You have enough finances to cover your stay in the US
- You intend to return to your home country as soon as your visa expires and you do not intend to stay in the US
If you meet these requirements and can prove your eligibility through valid documents in the application phase, then you will be able to apply and get the B1 visa.
How to apply for the B1 visa?
The B1 visa application process is similar to visa applications for all US nonimmigrant visas. However, since there are not many requirements, it is less complicated.
To apply for a B1 visa, you must go through these simple steps:
Complete Form DS-160
The Form DS-160, Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application is used in most US non-immigrant visa applications. It requires your background information and details, as well as your purpose of visit. You will need to find the section which is tailored for the B1 visa and fill it. After you submit the form online, you will get a confirmation page and number, which you need for later on in the application process.
You can fill the DS-160 form online through:
- the Consular Electronic Application Center, or
- by using the services of a third party company such as TravelAssist.
Why do we advise to apply through TravelAssist?
- TravelAssist’s staff will fill in the form DS-160 to book your B1 visa appointment with the US Embassy/Consulate.
- They will provide you with a complete list of required documents for your B1 Visa application and will check your prepared application file to make sure your application has the highest possible prospect of success.
- The staff of TravelAssist will offer 24/7 online support regarding your B1 visa application.
- If your US visa application is successful TravelAssist will get you your B1 visa quickly.
- In the event of denied entry to the US they offer Travel Protection that will cover your financial expenses.
- TravelAssist is a specialized company in processing US visa applications and has helped over 20,000 people enter the United States. They provide end-to-end visa assistance to help you successfully enter the United States.
Pay the visa fees
The application fee for the B1 visa is $160. You must pay this fee in order to continue with your application. Besides the application fee, you might have to pay other fees such as the visa issuance fees. The amount of the visa issuance fees depends on the relationship that your home country has with the US. After you pay all fees, make sure you save the receipts to attach to your documents.
Schedule your visa interview
All visa applicants between 14 and 79 years old must attend a visitor visa interview. The interviews are held at the US Embassy where you are applying from and are conducted by an official. US Embassies usually have high workloads, so you must make sure to schedule your interview as soon as possible. This will avoid long wait times and you get to complete the application process faster. You can call at your Embassy and schedule the interview and then you will get your interview confirmation letter. You must bring that letter on the day of your interview.
Prepare your B1 visa documents file
You must provide the commonly required documents for US visa application with you which support your application. These documents show the US Embassy that you qualify to get the B1 visa.
Attend the interview
On the day of the interview, bring your documents file and be prepared to answer questions from the interviewer. You will be asked about your background, your purpose of visit, what business you will be doing in the US, and whether you intend to return. Answer in specifics and give details about what you plan to do in the US.
B1 Visa Required Documents
Besides the standard required documents, your B1 visa application must contain the following additional documents:
- The Form DS-160 confirmation page and code
- The interview confirmation page
- A photo that complies to the US Visa photo requirements.
- A letter which describes the purpose of your trip
- Financial or bank statements to prove you have the finances to stay in the US
- Ties to your home country such as family, job contract, lease, or property deed, which prove you will return
- Criminal records or letter from authorities stating that you do not have prior convictions
- If you have visited the US before, bring documents relevant to your prior visits
- If you work, bring a letter from your employer and pay slips for the last three months
- A letter from the company detailing the purpose of the trip and your job position
How Long is the B1 Visa Processing Time?
The processing times for the US visitor visas are not exact. It can take a couple of weeks or a few months for your visa to be processed. This depends on the workload of the US Embassy and other factors that they take into consideration. After the processing time is complete, you will be notified about whether you got the visa or not.
How Long is the B1 Visa Valid?
The initial validity for which the B1 visa is given is 6 months. The US Embassy will assume that for 6 months you will be able to complete all the business that you have in the country. The 6 months is also enough time for you to be able to visit and tour any places in the US that you want to.
B1 Visa Extension
After 6 months, you are expected to return to your home country and not stay in the US past your visa expiration date. However, if you want a B1 visa extension, you must work with your employer on that. You must prove that you have not completed all the business that you need to complete with a B1 visa. You must also get letters of confirmation from your employer or company that proves your stay in the US is essential for business. However, remember that you are not allowed to work for a US company and earn income, so you must also prove financial stability and that you have enough money to stay in the US.
Can I get a Green Card with a B1 visa?
To qualify for getting the B1 visa, you must prove that you will return to your home country. This means that you cannot have plans to stay in the US permanently. Because you have to prove this and state it during your interview, it is then very difficult to get a Green Card while on a B1 visa.
In order to be able to get permanent residence with a B1 visa, you must either:
- Have family in the US and apply to join them
- Marry a US citizen with a valid marriage and then apply for permanent residence
- Find a job in the US where the employer is willing to sponsor your visa such as the H-1B visa, and then apply for the Green Card
However, since the B1 visa is a business tourist visa, if you find a job in the US you will be unable to work for the company in your home country. This means that you will have to go through complicated procedures to change your status and prove that you did not intend to find a job in the US, but that an unexpected opportunity came your way.
Can I bring my dependents with a B1 visa?
Unfortunately, since the B1 visa is an individual temporary visa, it does not have dependent visas. This means that your spouse, children, or other family members cannot join you in the US if you are the only one that has the B1 visa. In order to be able to join you, they must apply for the B-2 visa or the US tourist visa. With this visa, they will be able to come to stay with you for 6 months, and then ask for extensions for up to 1 year if necessary.
Whether your dependents get the visa or not does not depend on the fact that you have B1 visa. Each application is considered individually so there must always be proof of financial stability and that you plan to return home.