Introduction to Business Visa

A person who wants to visit the U.S. for a short duration for business-related reasons that does not require actual labor work and payment from a U.S. source can apply for a Business visa. The U.S. Business Visa is essentially for owners of a business or employees of a company/firm that are planning on attending training sessions, seminars, meetings, or opening branch offices in the United States. Business Visa, formally known as the B-1 Visa, is a non-immigrant visa to the USA. Visitors are not allowed to work on the U.S. Business Visa, however, they must demonstrate to the consular officer that they have strong ties to their country of residence and that they intend to leave the United States after their temporary visit.

Business Visa is classified in different categories in United States. The following are some well-known categories of Business Visa:

1. B-1 Visa (Business Visitors)

US immigration on a temporary basis through the B1 class, also known as a “Visitor for Business” visa. Business Visitor visa allows a candidate to enter the USA for a minimum duration of 6 months and maximum duration of 10 years. However, in most cases, the total validity period of the B1 visa period is anywhere from 1 to 10 years during which time the bearer can make multiple trips to the United States. B-1 Visa is suitable for following categories of people:

  • Applicants must certify that they have enough funds to support themselves and their family for the entire period of their visit
  • Applicants must not mean to seek or take in charge of a job
  • Applicants who might stay either with their relatives or friends should also render invitation letter
  • Applicants should have no criminal record and specify to strictly follow with the laws of the country
  • Applicants to attend scientific, educational, professional, business, or religious conventions
  • Persons to work on specific projects in the U.S. and paid by a foreign employer
  • Business professionals to participate in commercial transactions (which do not involve gainful employment) such as negotiating contracts and consulting with business associates
  • Persons to undertake independent studies such as feasibility studies, market research, or any such activity
  • Persons to attend professional or business conferences, workshops, or seminars
  • Business professionals to explore possibilities to set up a subsidiary of a foreign corporation, or to make investments
  • Personal or domestic servants to come to the U.S. with a U.S. citizen or nonimmigrant employer on B, E, F, H, I, J, L, M, O, P, R, or TN status
  • Technical personnel to install or service equipment pursuant to a contract of sale, or to provide after-sales service
  • Business professionals to attend meetings as a member of the Board of Directors of a U.S. corporation
  • Persons to observe business, professional, or vocational activity as long as it does not involve any hands-on activity
  • Professional athletes to compete for tournament money and not for a salary
  • Professionals to conduct business consultations with business associates in the U.S.
  • Purchasing agents of a foreign employer to come to the U.S. to procure goods, components, or raw materials for use outside the U.S.
  • Foreign business persons coming to the U.S. in conjunction with Litigation
  • Persons rendering professional services in the U.S. that would otherwise qualify them for an H-1B visa, but who are paid for those services by a source outside the U.S.
  • Persons employed outside the U.S. who are paid from abroad, and who come to the U.S. to undertake an established training program that would qualify them for an H-3 visa
  • Employees of foreign airlines who are engaged in productive employment in the U.S. and paid in the U.S. who are not eligible for E-1 treaty trader status
  • Other persons such as for bona fide religious missionaries and crew members on yachts
  • Special situations involving Canadians and Mexicans such as Canadian truck drivers who are paid by either Canadian or U.S. firms and who transport commodities across the Canadian Border
  • Foreign companies to send their personnel to the U.S. to install or service equipment pursuant to a contract of sale or to provide after-sales service
  • U.S. companies to bring foreign business consultants for training or expert advice
  • U.S. universities to bring foreign guest speakers or lecturers

2. L-1 Visa (Intra-company transferees)

This Business visa is also referred to as L1 visa. This is an intra-company transfer visa. It is further grouped into two categories. L1 A and L1 B visa. L1 A is for managerial positions and L1 B is skilled worker categories. This type is suitable for following categories of people:

  • There must be a qualifying kinship between the business entity in the United States and the foreign operation that employs the exotic abroad.
  • For the duration of the foreigner’s stay in the United States as an intra-company transferee, the petitioner must continue to do business both in the United States and in at least one other country, either directly or through a parent, branch, subsidiary, or affiliate.
  • The petitioner and the foreigner must have an intention for the foreigner to come to the United States for a temporary period and return abroad at the end of the authorized stay unless the foreigner becomes a permanent resident of the United States during the authorized stay. The L classification may not be used for the principal purpose of dodging the hold for a preference visa number.
  • The foreigner must have been employed abroad continuously for the foreign operation for the immediate prior year. Although authorized periods of stay in the United States for the foreign employer are not interruptive of the immediate prior year of employment, such periods may not be counted towards the qualifying year of employment abroad.
  • Foreigner’s prior year of employment abroad must have been in an executive, managerial, or specialized knowledge capacity. The prospective employer in the United States must also be in an executive, managerial, or specialized knowledge capacity. However, the foreigner does not have to be transferred to the United States in the same capacity in which he or she was employed abroad.
  • Foreign national executives being transferred to the U.S. to manage an organization or a major function or division of an organization.
  • Foreign national managers being transferred to the U.S. to supervise work of other supervisory, professional, or managerial employees, or who manages an essential function, department, or subdivision.
  • Specialized Knowledge employees of companies outside U.S. that have related U.S. branches, subsidiaries, affiliates, or joint venture, partner.
  • Employees and partners of international accounting firm
  • Multinational companies to transfer foreign national executives to manage an organization or a major function or division of an organization in the U.S.
  • Multinational companies to transfer foreign national managers to supervise work of other supervisory, professional or managerial employees, or who manages an essential function, department, or subdivision in the U.S.
  • Multinational companies to transfer employees with specialized knowledge such as its products, research methods, and marketing techniques.

3. E-1 Visa (Treaty Traders and Family)

E-1 is suitable for the following categories of people:

  • Personnel including executives, managers, and specialists of a treaty nation company operating in the U.S.
  • Be a national of a country with which the United States maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation.
  • Nationals of treaty countries seeking to enter the U.S. to carry out substantial trade.
  • Immediate family members of E-1 visa holders
  • Continue significant trade
  • Must fulfill the definition of “employee” under the relevant law.
  • A treaty trader or employee may only work in the activity for which he or she was approved at the time the classification was granted.
  • Companies in treaty countries to send key personnel to manage the U.S. affiliate or branch.
  • Proceed with principal trade between the United States and the treaty country which qualified the treaty trader for E-1 classification.
  • Companies in treaty countries to send personnel to set up a U.S. company.
  • Treaty traders and employees may be followed by spouses and unmarried children who are under 21 years of age. Their nationalities need not be the same as the treaty trader or employee. These family members may seek E-1 nonimmigrant classification as dependents and, if approved, generally will be given the same period of stay as the employee. If the family members are already in the United States and seeking a change of status to or extension of stay in an E-1 dependent classification, they may apply by filing a single Form I-539 with fee. Spouses of E-1 workers may apply for work authorization by filing Form I-765 with fee. If approved, there is no specific limitation as to where the E-1 spouse may work.
  • To remain lawfully in the United States, family members must carefully note the period of stay they have been granted in E-1 status and apply for an extension of stay before their own validity expires.
  • E-1 treaty trader or employee may travel abroad and will generally be given an automatic two-year period of admission when returning to the United States.

4. E-2 Visa (Treaty Investors and Family)

E-2 visa is suitable for following categories of people:

  • Entrepreneurs from treaty countries investing substantially in a U.S. enterprise
  • Capital investment in the U.S. has no specific cash threshold outlined, but $40,000 may be an absolute minimum, and any investment below $100,000 would need a very strong case to affirm it.
  • The investor will moderate his/her investment. In this respect moderate is considered to imply owning over 50% of the US enterprise.
  • Risk Capital has been committed; the investment must involve some risk to the investor (it may not be all in the form of unguaranteed credit). At a minimum, there must be a long-term lease of an office in the US.
  • The principal investor and any other E2 staff are able and willing to leave the US upon termination of their E2 status.
  • Nationals of treaty countries entering the U.S. to develop and direct investments from the treaty country
  • Nationals of treaty countries entering the U.S. to develop and direct the operations of an enterprise in which they have invested, or they are actively in the process of investing a substantial amount of capital
  • Immediate family members of E-2 visa holders
  • Companies in treaty countries to send key personnel to manage the U.S. affiliate or branch
  • Companies in treaty countries to send personnel to set up a U.S. company