B-1 Overview of Permissible Activities

Temporary Business Visitor (B-1 Visa):  Business people who are entering the U.S. for a limited time (typically 90 days or less, but up to 1 year in unusual situations) must prove to consular and border officials that they are entering the U.S. temporarily on behalf of an established foreign company.  For visa issuance, the traveler will need a letter from the foreign or U.S. company explaining the reasons for the visitor’s stay, length of travel, confirming continuing employment with the foreign company, and affirming that the visitor’s trip will be paid for by the foreign employer.  The B-1 visa holder cannot engage in salaried employment in the U.S. nor can the B-1 visa holder engage in work as a freelancer or independent contractor.  As an exception to this rule, the Visa Waiver Program permits visitors from many countries who have qualifying passports to stay in the U.S. for up to 90 days without obtaining a U.S. entry visa (thus eliminating the need for a consular visit)

Preconditions for B-1 entry:  The applicant for admission should be employed abroad, paid abroad, doing work that benefits the employer abroad, and should be entering for a temporary period of time.  They should not receive U.S. source income (although in some instances – say speaking at a conference – they can receive an honorarium and expenses reimbursement).

Permissible Activity:

• Attending meetings to sell products made abroad;
• Meet with local colleagues to report on status of foreign company (or if foreign company is the parent, meeting to review status of U.S. operations);
• Receive training that will assist with position in foreign company;
• Receive technical info/direction from U.S. counterparts;
• Represent foreign company in negotiations with U.S. companies (in addition to sales, this could be strategic agreements, partnerships, or merger discussions);
• Provide aftersales service to products made in Canada provided service is part of original sales contract;
• Review of accounting/reports or technical data related to the status of the U.S. operations.

Note – there are other permissible activities but they are more arcane and not the typical reason for a business visit.  If you have any questions, please call our office.

Impermissible Activity (unless individual holds employment authorization):

• Supervising or directing staff in the function of their work;
• Providing services directly to a U.S. employer;
• Representing a U.S. employer to others or within the organization;
• Making decisions and implementing them affecting the U.S. operations.

** This newsletter/memo is provided for informational and discussion purposes only.  It does not act as a substitute for direct legal contact on an individual basis **

Contact us for a worry-free and efficient process for handling your foreign national employee status issues.