The B Visa is a non-immigrant visa category covering foreign national visitors for business (B-1) and pleasure (B-2).
B Visa General Requirements
- The foreign national must be entering the U.S. for a limited duration;
- Unlike other non-immigrant visa categories such as H or L, a B visitor must have a “non-immigrant” intent when entering the U.S. This means that the foreign national must intend to depart the U.S. at the expiration of his or her stay;
- While in the U.S., the foreign national is expected to maintain a foreign residence which s/he has no intention of abandoning;
- The foreign national should demonstrate s/he has adequate financial arrangements to travel to, sojourn in, and depart from the U.S.; and
- The foreign national is restricted to engaging solely in legitimate activities relating to business or pleasure.
A B visa visitor will be granted only a period of entry necessary to conduct his or her business activities (B-1) or to visit for pleasure (B-2). Most B-1 visits are approved for less than 3 months, and only in unusual circumstances would a stay of more than 6 months be granted. While B-2 visits are generally approved for 6 months.
The B visa category requires application only to the U.S. consulate; no special permission needs to be obtained from the USCIS in the U.S. before a visa is issued.
Establishing Non-immigrant intent for typical alien business employees
A letter from the company is helpful. It should contain the following affirmations:
- The reason for the alien business employee’s trip to the U.S., i.e., setting forth a legitimate business activity;
- The specifics of the trip, including the required period of stay, confirmation of travel arrangements and accommodations, an itinerary, and other documentation appropriate to the business activity conducted;
- An affirmation that the business employee’s travel expenses and means of support during the trip will be covered by the employer.
For smaller companies, additional documentation will need to be provided in order to establish non-immigrant intent and legitimate business activity. A determination of what documentation is required will be dependent upon the activity.
An alien on a B-1 visa can conduct business on behalf of the overseas employer, but cannot be employed in the United States; i.e. any remuneration must be from non-U.S. sources.