The U.S, 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 U.S has created the US visitor visas to cover business and touristic purposes: the B1 visa and the B2 visa which allows you to enter the U.S with the purpose of tourism, pleasure, or visit friends and family.
What is the B1 visa?
The B1 visa is a U.S. non-immigrant visa that permits visitors to enter the U.S. for business purposes. Holders can engage in the following activities:
- Negotiate contracts.
- Consult with business associates in the U.S.
- 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 U.S
The benefit of the B1 visa is that you can develop business relationships and visit the U.S 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 U.S 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 to see if you qualify for ESTA:
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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 or a B1 visa, you must meet these eligibility criteria:
- That your intent for visiting is business related
- You have enough finances to cover your stay in the U.S
- You intend to return to your home country as soon as your visa expires and you do not intend to stay in the U.S
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.
B1 Visa Health Insurance
How to apply for the B1 visa?
The B1 visa application process is similar to visa applications for all U.S nonimmigrant visas. However, since there are not many requirements, it is less complicated. However, if you need it, then the B1 visa application has the following steps which you must follow.
Complete Form DS-160
The Form DS-160, Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application is used in most U.S 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.
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 U.S. 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 U.S Embassy where you are applying from and are conducted by an official. U.S 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 documents file
You must provide the commonly required documents for US visa application with you which support your application. These documents show the U.S Embassy that you qualify to get the B1 visa. 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
- Letter which describes the purpose of your trip
- Financial or bank statements to prove you have the finances to stay in the U.S
- 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 U.S 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
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 U.S, and whether you intend to return. Answer in specifics and give details about what you plan to do in the U.S.
How Long is the B1 Visa Processing Time?
The processing times for the U.S visitor visas is 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 U.S 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 U.S Embassy will assume that for 6 months you will be able to complete all 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 U.S that you want to.
B1 Visa Extension
After 6 months, you are expected to return to your home country and not stay in the U.S 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 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 U.S is essential for business. However, remember that you are not allowed to work for a U.S company and earn income, so you must also prove financial stability and that you have enough money to stay in the U.S.
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 U.S 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 U.S and apply to join them
- Marry a U.S citizen with a valid marriage and then apply for permanent residence
- Find a job in the U.S 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 U.S 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 U.S, 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 cannot join you in the U.S 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 U.S tourist visa. With this visa, they will be able to come 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.