According to the Foreign Affairs Manual provided by the US State Department, “Visitor visas are nonimmigrant visas for persons who want to enter the United States temporarily for business (B-1), or for pleasure (B-2), or a combination of both purposes (B-1/B-2).”

Engaging in business contemplated for B-1 visa classification generally entails business activities other than the performance of skilled or unskilled labor. The B-1 visa is not intended to be used to help foreigners obtain or engage in employment.

The line between business and skilled or unskilled labor can be a fine one. In a Board of Immigration Appeals case – In the Matter of Hira, the court essentially ruled that it was acceptable business conduct for a tailor to enter the US to measure people for suits – when the suits were being made and shipped from abroad. Here, the labor was incidental to foreign work.

Applicants can and should submit questionable cases to the Advisory Opinions Division of the Visa Office.

The Foreign Affairs Manual addresses whether B1 visas are available for:

  • Aliens Traveling to the United States to Engage in Commercial Transactions, Negotiations, Consultations, Conferences, etc.

Generally, B1 visas are available to “engage in commercial transactions, which do not involve gainful employment in the United States” – including to

    • Negotiate contracts
    • Consult with business associates
    • Litigate
    • Participate in scientific, educational, professional, or business conventions, conferences, or seminars or
    • Undertake independent research
  • Travel to give birth in the United States

“Any B nonimmigrant visa applicant who you have reason to believe will give birth during their stay in the United States is presumed to be traveling for the primary purpose of obtaining U.S. citizenship for the child. The applicant can overcome this presumption if you find that the primary purpose of travel is not obtaining U.S. citizenship for the child.”

  • Aliens Coming to the United States to Pursue Employment Incidental To their Professional Business Activities

“Aliens coming to the United States for the purpose of pursuing employment which does not qualify them for A, C, D, E, G, H, I, J, L, O, P, Q, R or NATO status, are not classifiable as B-1 and must be classified as immigrants. However, an alien may be eligible for B-1 business visas provided he or she meets the criteria of one of the approved categories.

  • Ministers of religion and members of religious denominations meeting the approved criteria may be issued B-1 visas.
  • Participants in Voluntary Service Programs

“Aliens participating in a voluntary service program benefiting U.S. local communities, who establish that they are members of, and have a commitment to, a particular recognized religious or nonprofit charitable organization. No salary or remuneration should be paid from a U.S. source, other than an allowance or other reimbursement for expenses incidental to the volunteers’ stay in the United States.” An experienced immigration lawyer will explain the voluntary service program standards and requirements.

  • Members of Board of Directors of U.S. Corporation
  • Professional Athletes

There are specific eligibility requirements for individual professional athletes, team members, sports, leagues, amateur hockey players, and yacht crewmen.

  • Coasting Officers
  • Investors Seeking Investment in the United States
  • Equestrian Sports

Call Herman Legal Group at +1-216-696-6170 or complete our contact form to learn more about B-1 and B-2 extensions and change requests.

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