HR Guide: B-1 Visa & Risk Assessment
What is a B-1 Visa?
The B-1 Visa is a Business Visitor Visa with a non-immigrant intent. This means the visa is set up for non-U.S. nationals to visit the U.S. and return to their home country. It’s important to understand the requirements of non-immigration intent because an applicant is qualified or disqualified based on these criteria (more on that later).
Who is the B-1 visa for?
The B-1 business visitor visa allows foreign nationals to enter the United States temporarily for business purposes, i.e., to attend business meetings and conferences, negotiate contracts, or explore potential investments, among other activities.
Is there an interview requirement for a B-1 visa?
Yes. All foreign nationals, except nationals of these 40 countries, must attend a visa interview at their nearest embassy or consulate to get a B-1 visa.
Foreign nationals that don’t need a B-1 visa
Andorra Australia Austria Belgium Brunei Chile Croatia Czech Republic Denmark Estonia
Finland France Germany Greece Hungary Iceland Ireland Italy Japan Latvia
Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Malta Monaco Netherlands New Zealand Norway Poland Portugal
San Marino Singapore Slovakia Slovenia South Korea Spain Sweden Switzerland Taiwan United Kingdom
NOTE - there are restrictions to this waiver. See below.
Foreign nationals that need a B-1 visa
If the citizens of the visa-exempt countries traveled to the following countries on or after Mar 01, 2011, they will have to appear for a B-1 visa interview at the US embassy or consulate.
If the citizens of the visa-exempt countries have dual citizenship in one of the following countries, they will have to appear for B-1 visa interview at the US embassy or consulate, even if they haven’t visited these countries since Mar 01, 2011.
Citizens of all other countries need a B-1 visa before entering the US.
How to apply for a B-1 Business Visitor Visa?
To apply for a B-1 visa, follow these steps:
Complete the online DS-160 visa application form
Print the confirmation page (you need it for the interview).
Pay the visa application fee (check the US Embassy or Consulate website in your country for the exact amount).
Schedule an appointment for a visa interview at your local US Embassy or Consulate.
Gather the required documents, such as a valid passport, DS-160 confirmation page, application fee receipt, and any additional supporting documents.
Attend the visa interview at the US Embassy or Consulate.
Can our contractors from other countries also travel on B-1 visa?
Sure. The requirements stay the same for contractors. Foreign nationals will have to make sure that they have clear documentation establishing their relationship with their employer and their employer's relationship with the US company.
How to improve chances of success?
Visa interviews typically last for 1-3 minutes before the visa officer decides to grant the visa. While there are many nuances to consider, as an employer, you can improve a foreign national's interview success through the following:
Clear travel plans
Officers like to see that foreign national knows where they'll be going, staying, and when they'll leave the US.
Support document Preparation
While the visa officers normally don't ask for documentation during the interview, it is still a good idea to ask the foreign national to carry the documentation proving their current employment and their work with the US entity. It is also a good idea to provide the foreign national with a support letter from the US entity.
Since a visa interview is a crucial step to getting the visa, it's a good idea for the foreign national to prepare for the visa interview and has answers to basic questions about their role, their work, travel plans, return plans, etc.
How long does it take to process a B-1 visa application?
Processing times for B-1 visa applications can vary depending on the US Embassy or Consulate and the time of the year. Generally, visa appointments are available from a few days to several weeks in the future. Some embassies (especially in India) are reeling from the Covid restrictions, and the wait times are over 300 days. It is recommended to apply for your visa well in advance of your planned travel date.
TIP - Interview slots open up for closer dates if you try looking for appointments daily.
How long can a foreign national stay in the US on a B-1 visa?
The visa is granted for a maximum period of six months, but the length of granted stay can vary. The duration of the stay is first determined by the embassy or consulate officer conducting the interview and then by US Customs and Border Protection officer upon arrival in the US.
TIP - Ensure to see the last date of stay on the I-94 issued to you. It supersedes the date of visa expiration.
Can a foreign national work in the US while on a B-1 visa?
No, the B-1 visa does not allow a foreign national to work in the US or receive salary or any other financial compensation from a US employer. This visa is strictly for non-compensatory business activities such as company or client visits, conferences, etc.
Can foreign nationals get paid for the work that they perform in the US?
No. As mentioned above, the foreign national’s visit and activities in the US should not be tied to financial compensation.
What if the B-1 visa application is denied?
If the B-1 visa application is denied, the applicant can reapply for the visa. The embassy usually issues a notice explaining the reason for the denial. Reapplying is a good strategy if the applicant is confident they can address the reasons for the denial. Since odds get stacked against the applicant after a denial, it is advisable to consult with an immigration attorney to better understand one’s options and improve the chances of success in future applications.
How soon can the foreign national reapply?
There is no limit on how soon one can reapply.
What are the common reasons for B-1 visa denial?
There can be many reasons why a visa application may be denied. Most of these reasons stem from the criteria to corroborate a foreign national's non-immigration intent.
Some common reasons for B-1 visa denial include
Insufficient documentation or information to establish eligibility.
Failure to demonstrate strong ties to your home country.
Previous immigration violations or criminal history.
Inability to provide adequate financial resources for your trip.
Fraud or misrepresentation during the application process.
Content in this publication is not intended as legal advice, nor should it be relied on as such. For additional information on the issues discussed, consult a WayLit-affiliated attorney or another qualified professional.