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Business Immigration: What Are the Limitations of a “Business Visitor”?

There are many times when the easiest way to have someone from another country come to your facility is by taking advantage of the B-1 business visitor visa. This visa works in much the same way as the B-2 tourist visa, which is set up specifically for those visiting the country for pleasure. So, whether you are bringing in a potential employee, a potential new customer, or just someone who needs to see your facility for a short time, this may be an ideal option.

Before you get started, however, it is important to know that there are several key limitations on this type of visa. Understanding them will help you to identify whether or not this is the right visa for you to use when bringing someone to your company.

Limitations on Activities

The B-1 visa is meant to visit a business, not actually perform local employment. The following activities will require a proper work visa rather than just the visitor’s visa:

  • Operating a Business – You cannot bring someone into the country to operate your business on this type of visa, even if it is only temporary.
  • Traditional Employment – You can’t bring people in to perform normal job duties. This means you can’t use this as a temporary worker visa.
  • Professional Sports or Entertainment – Often times a professional athlete or entertainer will require work authorization to remain longer term and, unless truly a visit or covered by the specific exemptions for touring athletes, this is not the proper visa for visiting sports or entertainment professionals.
  • Receive Payment by a US Organization – You can’t receive your normal payment from the US organization you’re visiting. Any salary or compensation you receive must come through your country of origin.

The types of things that people on this type of visa can perform include conducting negotiations, soliciting sales, interviewing and/or hiring staff, conducting research, touring facilities, attending meetings and discussing investments for the company.

Length of Stay

Another significant limitation to this type of visa is the length of time you are planning to stay in the country. Typically this type of visa can last for six months, though it can be extended to one year with the proper documentation and applications. If the duration may extend past that, it is likely best to find another type of visa that would be more appropriate.

This entire process can be quite confusing at times, and it can be hard to figure out whether the B-1 visitor visa is the right option, or if you should find an alternative. If you have any questions about this, or any type of visa, please contact me today!