How to Obtain and Qualify for a B-1 Business Visitor Visa

Qualifying and obtaining a B1-Visa is a complex and fact specific process and the information below is a general overview. Remember that there are exceptions and nuances to the visa application process that are dependent on many factors. Please consult with an attorney at Theta Law Firm with your specific facts. An attorney is vital to help guide you and your family through the process of obtaining a B1 or B2 visa in a timely fashion to conduct your business.

Is the B-1 Business Visitor Visa for me?

The B-1 classification allows a business visitor to remain in the United States for a brief period of time for certain business purposes. A visitor using the B-1 classification has to be extremely careful to remain in the bounds of the purposes specifically set out for B-1 visitors and not conduct activities that are only allowable under other Visas (such as the H1-B). The principal benefit of the business visitor's activity in the United States under the B-1 classification must be towards a business person or entity abroad.

Qualifications of a Business Visitor

In order to obtain B-1 classification a business visitor must meet certain requirements and present evidence of such when filing an application.

    The business visitor must:

      1. Plan to remain in the United States for a specific limited period of time,
      2. Have the purpose of entering the United States for business of a legitimate nature,
      3. Have the funds to cover the expenses of the trip and stay within the United States,
      4. Have a residence outside of the United States that you have no intention of abandoning and other ties to your country to ensure your return abroad after the expiration of the stay, and
      5. Be admissible to the United States (no criminal convictions, etc).
How to Apply

    1. Fill out and submit Form DS-160 Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application (can be accessed through Make sure that you keep the confirmation page that you will have to bring with you to the interview at the embassy or consulate.
    2. You will be required to upload a color photograph of yourself taken within the last six months when submitting Form DS-160. For more information regarding the photograph requirements please go to
    3. Schedule an interview at the United States embassy or consulate in the country where you live.
    4. Pay the current $160 application fee and any other fees that may apply.
Approved Activities of B-1 Business Visitors

  • Taking orders for foreign goods
  • Contract negotiation
  • Installation, service, or repair of commercial/industrial equipment purchased from outside the United States and/or training of United States workers to perform such services
  • Litigation
  • Participation in scientific, educational, professional or business conventions, conferences, or seminars
  • Professional entertainers involved in cultural events, paid for and sponsored by another country, that will involve public appearance before non-paying audiences
  • Investors seeking investments that may eventually qualify them for immigrant or E-2 nonimmigrant status
  • Independent research or professional artistic activity (e.g. music recording, artistic work such as painting, sculpture, or photography) that does not involve income from a United States source
  • Settling an estate
  • Participating in short-term training
  • Consulting with business associates
There are many more potentially allowable activities, but the determination is often made on a case by case fact specific basis. Please consult with an attorney at Theta Law Firm before obtaining a B-1 Visa to confirm that the particular business activity you intend to conduct is acceptable with a B-1 classification. A lawyer can also let you know whether a B-1 visa or another visa is the best route to pursue.

Perhaps the most important aspect in determining whether a particular activity is allowed with B-1 status is whether or not salary or other compensation is being provided from United States sources. A person with B-1 status may NOT receive a salary or other compensation from United States sources for any services rendered in connection to activities in the United States. A United States source may provide those with B-1 status with incidental expense, allowances, and reimbursements (for basic services).

B-1 Activities with Special Requirements

Certain types of activities require employment authorization (Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization)[1] when conducted by B-1 business visitors:

    1. A personal or domestic servant who is accompanying an employer who is attempting to gain admission or is already admitted in the United States through B, E, F, H, I, J, L, or TN nonimmigrant classification.
    2. A domestic servant of a United States citizen accompanying the United States citizen employer who has a permanent home in a foreign country and is temporarily visiting the United States.
    3. An employee of a foreign airline who would be entitled to E-1 status, but is precluded from obtaining such status because the employee is not a national of the country of the airline's nationality or because there is no treaty of commerce between the United Sates and the country of the airline's nationality.
All visitors that apply for a B-1 classification as a personal or domestic servant must show the following:

  • Have a residence abroad that you do not intend to abandon
  • Have at least one year of experience as a personal or domestic servant
  • Have been employed abroad by your employer for at least one year before the employer was admitted to the United States OR if employed for less than one year abroad, the employer must show that they regularly employed a domestic servant in the same capacity as your intended employment
Length of Stay

Those that qualify for B-1 classification will initially be granted a visa for the duration necessary to conduct the business, up to a maximum of six months. Generally, the initial allowance is for ninety days. An extension is also possible for up to six months. If you would like to remain beyond the time indicated on Form I-94 without departing from the United States, you must file Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status and submit any required additional documentation or paperwork to USCIS.

Family of B-1 Business Visitors

Family members of a B-1 business visitor are not eligible to obtain a dependent visa. This means that all dependents that will be accompanying the B-1 business visitor must apply separately for a B-2 visa and must follow all of the regulations for that visa.

[1] Form I-765 may be found at Instructions for filling out Form I-765 may be found at

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