How to Obtain a U.S. Visa for Business Travel

By HBS Tuesday, March 8, 2016

how to obtain a u.s. visa for business travelIf you are planning to visit to the United States in order to conduct any type of temporary, international business—including to attend conferences, consultations or conventions—you will need a non-immigrant Business Visitor Visa, known as a B-1.

Below is a summary of some of the types of temporary, business-related travel allowed by the U.S. Department of State on a B-1 Visitor Visa. If these descriptions fit your planned travel purpose and the facts accurately describe your trip, you should schedule a visa interview appointment as well as apply for a visa at the United States Embassy or Consulate in your country of residence.

You can use this link to locate a U.S. Embassy or Consulate, and you can estimate how long it will take to get an interview; however, be sure to plan ahead and apply for your visa months before you plan to travel so your plans are not affected.

You probably need a B-1 Business Visitor Visa if:

  • the purpose of your travel is a business venture, or you are an investor in search of an investment and visiting the U.S. in order to find potential sites for a business and/or to rent office space in the U.S. for a business venture you’ll oversee from an international location.
  • the purpose of your travel is to attend a conference, meeting, trade show or other type of business event and you are not receiving any salary or income from a U.S.-based company or business entity and/or your visit is for scientific, educational, professional or business endeavors.
  • the purpose of your travel is to work as an expo or trade show employee for an international exhibitor, and you are not receiving any salary or income from a U.S.-based company or business entity, and your visit will be centered on planning, assembling, dismantling and/or maintaining an exhibit at the international expo or trade show.
  • the purpose of your travel is as a lecturer or speaker, and you will not be receiving any salary or income from a U.S.-based company or business other than receiving compensation for incidental expenses; if you are receiving an honorarium for services that are conducted on behalf of, and for the sole benefit of, a college, university, institution or organization; if you are to receive an honorarium, your business activities cannot last any longer than nine (9) days at a single college, university, institution or organization and you will not have accepted incidental expenses nor honorariums from more than five (5) colleges, universities, institutions or organizations over the previous six (6) months.
  • the purpose of your visit is sales or selling and you will be attending an exhibition, receiving orders, negotiating and/or signing contracts for products produced outside of the United States.

When you apply for a B-1 Business Visitor Visa, you must meet all requirements for the visa at the time of application. The consular officer will determine whether you meet the proper requirements.

If the above descriptions do not fit your planned visit, you will likely need a different type of visa. Fortunately, we have compiled extensive information and resources to help you determine what is needed in our Guide to Entrepreneurship for Immigrants and Refugees.




*Disclaimer*: Harvard Business Services, Inc. is neither a law firm nor an accounting firm and, even in cases where the author is an attorney, or a tax professional, nothing in this article constitutes legal or tax advice. This article provides general commentary on, and analysis of, the subject addressed. We strongly advise that you consult an attorney or tax professional to receive legal or tax guidance tailored to your specific circumstances. Any action taken or not taken based on this article is at your own risk. If an article cites or provides a link to third-party sources or websites, Harvard Business Services, Inc. is not responsible for and makes no representations regarding such source’s content or accuracy. Opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of Harvard Business Services, Inc.

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