The B 1 visa allows you to carry out business-related activity within the US during a time-limited visit.
What is a B 1 visa?
Business travellers who do not come under the US Visa Waiver Program can apply to enter the US using a B 1 visa.
Qualifying for a B 1 visa is not automatic. To be eligible, you must evidence you will be participating in business activities of a commercial or professional nature while in the US.
The B 1 visa permits time-limited entry to the US, and you must leave before visa expiry.
You are not able to bring dependants with you on a B 1 visa. They must apply separately under a B 2 visa.
The B 1 visa application process requires that you submit supporting documentation to evidence the purpose of your visit. Failure to present a comprehensive and complete application can lead to delays in a decision or even refusal.
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Our legal experts are highly experienced in all areas of US immigration, including B 1 visa applications. We have helped individuals from the UK, mainland Europe and across the globe secure entry to the US through the B 1 visa. For advice and guidance on your application, please get in touch.
Your questions answered
Am I covered by the Visa Waiver Program?
The B 1/B 2 Visa Waiver Program allows citizens of specified countries to visit the US for up to 90 days without a visitor visa:
United Kingdom, Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium Brunei, Chile, 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, Republic of Korea, San Marino, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and Taiwan.
In addition to having status as a national of one of the specified countries, you must also not otherwise be ineligible for a US visa, for example due to a criminal record. You must also hold a valid e-passport.
What are the eligibility criteria for the B 1 visa?
If you do not come under the Visa Waiver Program, to be eligible to obtain a B 1 visa, you must demonstrate as part of your application that:
- The purpose of your trip is to enter the US for business of a legitimate nature
- You plan to remain for a specific, limited period of time
- You have the funds to cover the expenses of the trip and your stay in the US
- You have formal ties to your home country such as a permanent residence to ensure your return at the end of the visit
- You are otherwise admissible to the US
The most common reason for refusal of B 1 visas is the applicant showing insufficient evidence of social, family or economic ties to the home country that would ensure return following the visit to the USA.
The B 1 visa should generally be applied for from your home country – ie where you are a citizen or permanent resident. Applications made in other countries tend to run a higher risk of being turned down.
Can my dependants apply under the B 1 visa?
Your spouse and children are not eligible to obtain a dependent visa while you are on a B 1 visa. Each of your dependants who will be accompanying or following to join you must apply separately for a B 2 visa and must follow the regulations for that visa.
Can I change status to a B 1 visa?
It is possible to apply to change to a B 1 visa if you are in the US under another valid nonimmigrant status by completing Form I-539, ‘Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status’.
What activities are permitted under the B 1 visa?
While in the US as a business visitor, you are permitted to:
- Conduct negotiations
- Solicit sales or investment
- Discuss planned investment or purchases
- Make investments or purchases
- Attend and participate in meetings
- Interview and hire staff
- Conduct research
What activities are not permitted under the B 1 visa?
The following activities require a working visa, and may not be carried out by business visitors under a B 1 visa:
- Running a business
- “Gainful employment”
- Payment by an organization within the US
- Participating as a professional in entertainment or sporting events
If in doubt, it is advisable to seek advice on the immigration options open to you based on your specific circumstances.
How long does the B 1 visa allow me to stay in the US?
You will generally be granted six months admission on entry under the B 1 visa, though the maximum allowable stay is 1 year.
It may be possible to obtain a six-month extension to your B 1 visa as long as you will be maintaining your visitor status, and can provide good reason for this.
In some circumstances, it may be possible to change status to a longer-tern visa while you are on a B 1 visa. To do so, you must first enquire with the relevant Consulate as to the likelihood of a visa change based on the specific facts of your circumstances and on the understanding that there was no prior intent to take this course of action.
What is a combined B1/B2 visa?
The combined B 1 / B 2 visa is appropriate where you require the flexibility to carry out both business and pleasure-related activity during your visit.