B-1 Business Visitor Visa for Entrepreneurs

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The B-1 visa is one of the categories that may be available to you if you are an entrepreneur interested in starting up a business in the United States. This article will help you understand the key requirements of the B-1 visa and help you determine whether you qualify and whether the B-1 visa is an appropriate fit for your needs. You will be required to submit evidence with your application to prove that you meet all the requirements.

Contact the experienced immigration attorneys at The Law Firm of Shihab & Associates. Call (800) 625-3404 today.


When Would the B-1 Visa Work for an Entrepreneur?

The B-1 business visitor visa would be appropriate for you as an entrepreneur if:

  • The purpose of your visit to the United States would be for a short and temporary period of time
  • You intend to return to your home country after your visit
  • You will engage in business activity related to your work abroad
  • You will not be paid by a US entity

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The Period of Stay in the US Must Be for a Short, Temporary Time

The B-1 visitor visa is available to entrepreneurs who will spend a relatively short period of time the United States for a definite and defined business activity. The B-1 visitor visa not for long extended periods of stay. Typically, the maximum length of stay allowed by the B-1 visa is six months. The actual period of stay granted will be that timeframe that is “fair and reasonable” for you to complete your intended activity, which may actually be less than six months. You must establish that you have sufficient funds to cover your travel expenses to and from the United States and the expenses of your stay.

You must establish that you will maintain your foreign home address abroad and that you intend to return to your home address after your period of stay in the US has ended. It is also necessary to establish that you have other binding ties to your home abroad that you have no intention of abandoning.

The Purpose of Your Visit Must Be to Engage in Business

To qualify for the B-1 business visitor visa, you must establish that the purpose of your travel to the United States will be for a business purpose. This business purpose must also be a “necessary incident” to your foreign business abroad, meaning that your intended business activities in the US must be a function of and directly linked to your foreign business activities abroad.

This may include a wide variety of business activities such as:

  • Going to meetings
  • Conducting consultations with associates
  • Being involved in negotiations
  • Receiving orders for goods produced and located outside the United States
  • Going to conferences
  • Conducting research options in order to open a business in the United States, including finding office space or signing a rental lease

You Must Not Receive Any Salary from an Entity in the United States

In order to be eligible for the B-1 business visitor visa, you must not be receiving any salary from a US entity. The reason for this is because the purpose of the B-1 visa is for temporary business activities in the United States that are connected to and part of your foreign business activities abroad. The B-1 visa is not available for those who intend to come to the United States work for, and be paid by, a US employer. You must establish that will be paid by your foreign business abroad, and that you will not be receiving salary income from any source in the US. However, it is permissible for a US entity to reimburse you for your expenses so long as that they are reasonable, incidental, and occurred while you were in the United States.

Exception for Nationals of Visa Waiver Countries

If you are from one of the countries listed as a visa waiver country by the US Department of State, you can opt to enter the United States to conduct business activities without obtaining a B-1 visitor visa stamp. There is a drawback to this route in that your period of stay would be limited to 90 days without an extension except in an emergency.

There are currently 37 visa waiver countries:

  • Andorra
  • Australia
  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Brunei
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Hungary
  • Iceland
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Japan
  • Latvia
  • Liechtenstein
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Malta
  • Monaco
  • The Netherlands
  • New Zealand
  • Norway
  • Portugal
  • San Marino
  • Singapore
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia
  • South Korea
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • Taiwan
  • United Kingdom

Note that if you are a national of Canada, Mexico, or Bermuda you are not eligible for the visa waiver program, but there may be other programs available to you. Contact us for details. If you have questions about the B-1 visitor visa for entrepreneurs or any other of the immigration visa categories that you may be interested in pursuing, our immigration attorneys can help.

Call The Law Firm of Shihab & Associates at (800) 625-3404 for a consultation with an attorney at the nearest office close to you. We have locations in Columbus Ohio, Cleveland Ohio, Southfield Michigan and Washington, D.C. 


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