B1 Visa: What You Need to Know

B1 Visa or B-1 Visa is a temporary visa granted to foreign citizens who are going to engage in commerce or business in the United States; it is of both a commercial and professional nature.

B1 Visa permitted activities

With this visa, you will be eligible to visit the U.S. and engage in certain business activities temporarily. Having a B1 Temporary Business Visitor does not allow you to carry out other types of activities, such as working or studying. Specifically, when visiting the country with this visa, you are authorized to:

  • Attend conferences and other business, educational, or professional events.
  • Negotiate business contracts.
  • Resolve matters related to business estate.
  • Hold meetings with business partners.
  • Participate in short-term training.
  • Conduct interviews or hire others.

Can I work on a B1 Visa?

No you can’t work in any type of job, whether short or long-term. Other things that are not allowed when visiting the United States with a B1 Visa, including:

  • Enrolling in part-time or full-time educational programs.
  • Entering the country as a crew member of a ship or plane.
  • Receiving payments for participating in any event, for example, sports entertainment.
  • Seeking permanent residency in the United States.

B1 Visa requirements

The B1 visa is very popular within the international business community. As it entitles a person to make a temporary visit, the requirements for non-immigrant visas like B1 are not as strict as others. These are the main requirements to be eligible for this visa:

  • The purpose of your trip to the United States must be to conduct legitimate business.
  • You must have sufficient financial resources to cover your stay in the country.
  • Leave the U.S. when your B1 Visa expires.
  • Not be a threat to the security of U.S. residents.

B1 Visa Cost

For most applicants, the application fee for a B1 Visa is $185. Citizens of some countries may be subject to additional fees due to reciprocity agreements. However, in most cases, the fee is usually as described above. Once you pay the visa application fee, you will receive a confirmation receipt.

B1 Visa application process

The process is straightforward and involves the following steps:

  1. Fill out the DS-160 form.
  2. Pay the visa application fee.
  3. Schedule your interview.
  4. Get your documents ready.
  5. Go to the interview.

How long does it take to get a B1 visa?

The wait time for B1 Visa interview appointments can vary widely, from as little as 2 months to more than 2 years. To discover the exact wait time for an embassy or consulate near you, utilize the “Appointment Wait Time.” feature on the State Department’s website. Be aware that applying for an interview in a country that is not your home country may lead to longer wait times. Additionally, after a successful interview, the time it takes to receive your visa could range from 2 weeks to 6 weeks, depending on the current processing volume.

How long can you stay in the USA on a B1 Visa?

On a B1 Visa, you can typically stay in the USA for up to 6 months on a single visit. However, the exact duration of stay is determined by the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer at the port of entry, who may grant a period of stay shorter or up to the 6-month maximum. It’s important to note that while this visa itself might have a longer validity, the allowed duration of each visit is subject to approval upon entry.

What’s the difference between a B1 Visa and a B2 Visa?

The B1 and B2 Visas are both part of the B category of non-immigrant visas for temporary visitors to the United States, but they serve different purposes:

  • B1 Temporary Business Visitor: This is primarily for business-related travel. It allows for activities such as consulting with business associates, attending professional, educational, or business conventions/conferences, settling estates, or negotiating contracts. It does not permit employment in the U.S.
  • B2 Visitor Visa: This visa is meant for tourism, leisure, and medical treatment. It covers activities such as vacationing, visiting friends or relatives, medical treatment, and participation in social or service activities. It also does not allow for employment in the U.S.

In some cases, applicants may be issued a B1/B2 Visa, combining both purposes into a single visa for those who qualify for both categories during their visit to the United States.

Can one apply for a Green Card while in the United States on a B1 Visa?

It is not possible to obtain a green card during a business trip to the United States. You cannot visit the U.S. with a B1 Visa if you intend not to return to your home country or to establish permanent residence. However, even under the previous premise, there are certain circumstances in which someone visiting the U.S. with a B1 Temporary Business Visitor may change their status. Some of the situations that allow for consideration for applying for permanent residence include:

  • Marrying a U.S. citizen.
  • Securing a job and having your employer willing to sponsor your stay.
  • Having family in the United States and wanting to join them.

It is unusual for a B1 Visa holder to obtain approval for permanent residence in the United States. According to the rules, holders of this visa must return to their home country and apply for a different visa. Unless you marry a U.S. citizen or obtain a job opportunity while in the U.S., you must go back home.

Is it possible to bring my dependents to the United States with a B1 visa?

No, you are not allowed to bring your dependents directly to the United States on a B1 Business Visa, as it does not include provisions for family members, spouses, children, or personal staff to accompany you on a business trip.

However, your dependents have the option to apply for B2 Tourist Visas if they wish to join you. The B2 Visa is suitable for recreational purposes, including visiting family. Each family member must submit an individual visa application and demonstrate their relationship to the B1 Visa holder, as well as their intent to return home after their stay. While B1 Temporary Business Visitor Visa holders cannot include dependents in their business visa, the B2 Visa route provides a structured path for family members to visit the United States during the business trip, with proper planning and documentation.

written by Alexander Alfano
Alexander Joseph Alfano is the Director and Chief Legal Counsel of Financial Legal Group INC. He's a distinguished lawyer in since 1993, specializes in financial services, immigration law, nonprofit corporations, and civil cases.