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 B1 visa is a non-immigrant US visa that permits visitors to enter the United States 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.
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.
The US has created the US visitor visas to cover business and touristic purposes. Different from the B1 visa, the B2 visa allows you to enter the US with the purpose of tourism, pleasure, or visit friends and family.
Do I Need to Apply for a US Business Visa?
If you are a citizen of one of the countries in the Visa Waiver Program, you will not need to apply for the US Business 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 business visa much faster.
This tool will help you determine whether you need to apply for a B1 visa:
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What are the Eligibility Criteria to Qualify for the B1 Visa?
The US business visa eligibility criteria are not as strict as other visas, but you must fulfill them in order to qualify. Here are the criteria that you must meet to be able to get the B1 visa:
- That your intent for visiting the United States is business-related.
- You have enough finances to cover your stay in the United States.
- You intend to return to your home country as soon as your visa expires and you do not intend to stay in the United States.
If you meet these criteria and can prove your eligibility through valid documents in the application phase, then you will be able to apply and get the B1 visa.
Steps to Apply for a US Business Visa
To apply for a B1 visa, you must go through these simple steps:
- Complete Form DS-160.
- Pay the B1 visa fees.
- Schedule your visa interview.
- Prepare your B1 visa documents file.
- Attend the interview.
Complete Form DS-160
The Form DS-160, Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application is used to apply for a business visa as 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
- with the help of a visa processing assistant.
Pay the B1 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 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 and are conducted by an official. United States 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. In this case, 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 the business visa application with you to support your application. Your B1 visa application must contain the following additional documents:
- The Form DS-160 confirmation page and code.
- Your valid passport. You must possess a passport which is six months valid beyond your planned stay in the US.
- Details of your social media accounts. A list of the social media that you use, and the name
of your account in each.
- The interview confirmation page.
- A photo that complies with 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 letters 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 payslips 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 United States, and whether you intend to return. Answer in specifics and give details about what you plan to do in the United States.
How Long is the B1 Visa Processing Time?
The processing times for the B1 visa 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 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?
B1 Visa Extension
After 6 months, you are expected to return to your home country and not stay in the United States 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 United States.
Can I Get a Green Card as a B1 Visa Holder?
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 a 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 visitor 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.
Do I Get Access to American Healthcare With a Business Visa Visa?
As a foreigner visiting the United States for tourism purposes you will not receive free healthcare. The American healthcare system is the most expensive in the world with the treatment of a broken leg or broken arm will cost you $2,500, while staying at a US hospital for one night may cost over $10,000, on average.
Therefore, it is advisable to purchase a health insurance plan to cover these costs. You can learn more here about various health insurance plans for visitors in the United States.
Can Business Visa Holders Bring Dependents to USA?
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 United States if you are the only one that has the B1 visa. In order to be able to join you, they must apply for the B2 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 a B1 visa. Each application is considered individually so there must always be proof of financial stability and that you plan to return home.
If your parents will visit you in the US with a B1 visa, it is strongly advisable that you check health insurance plans that would cover the parents during their stay in the United States.