The United States, in addition to being a popular tourist destination and a place where people want to find work, is also a great place to do business.
The B1 visa is a US non-immigrant visa that allows visitors to enter the United States for business purposes.
B1 visa holders can carry out the following activities:
- Negotiate contracts.
- Consult business associates in the United States.
- Sort out properties.
- Attend conferences, educational, professional or corporate events.
The advantage of the B1 visa is that you can develop business relationships and visit the United States as often as necessary for business. After your visa expires, you can always apply for another one. US business visas have no maximum limit, so there are no rules on how many visas can be issued each year.
The United States created visas for US visitors to cover business and tourism purposes. Unlike the B1 visa, the B2 visa allows you to enter the United States for tourism, pleasure, or to visit friends and family.
Do I need to apply for a business visa to the United States?
If you are a citizen of one of the countries participating in the Visa Waiver Program, you will not need to apply for a US business visa. You can instead apply for an Electronic System Travel Authorization (ESTA). With the ESTA program, you will not be required to go to the US Embassy in person and you will be able to obtain your business visa much faster.
Important: As of May 30, 2023, the cost of a B2 visa application has increased to $185 from the previous price of $160.
What are the eligibility criteria to qualify for the B1 visa?
The eligibility criteria for the US business visa are not as strict as other visas, but you must meet them in order to qualify. Here are the criteria you must meet in order to obtain the B1 visa:
- That your intention to visit the United States is work-related.
- You have enough finances to cover your stay in the United States.
- You intend to return to your home country as soon as your visa expires and do not intend to remain in the United States.
If you meet these criteria and can demonstrate your eligibility through valid documents at the application stage, you will be able to apply for and obtain the B1 visa.
Steps to Apply for a Business Visa to the United States:
To apply for a B1 visa, you need to follow these simple steps:
- Fill out form DS-160.
- Pay the fees for the B1 visa.
- Schedule your visa interview.
- Prepare your B1 visa documents file.
- Attend the interview.
1. Fill out form DS-160:
Form DS-160, Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application is used to apply for a business visa as in most nonimmigrant visa applications in the United States. It asks for basic information and details, as well as the purpose of the visit. You will need to find the appropriate section for the B1 visa and fill it in. After submitting the online form, you will receive a confirmation page and number, which you will need later in the application process.
You can complete Form DS-160 online through the Consular Electronic Request Center
2. Pay the fees for the B1 visa:
The B1 visa application fee is $185. You must pay this fee to continue with your application. In addition to the application fee, you may have to pay other fees such as visa fees. The amount of visa fees depends on the relationship your home country has with the United States. After paying all fees, be sure to save your receipts to attach to your documents.
3. Schedule your visa interview:
All visa applicants between the ages of 14 and 79 must attend a visitor visa interview. Interviews take place at the US Embassy where you are applying and are conducted by an official. US embassies usually have high workloads, so you need to make sure to schedule your interview as soon as possible. This will avoid long waiting times and you will be able to complete the application process faster. In this case, you can call your Embassy and schedule the interview and then you will receive the interview confirmation letter. You must bring that letter on the day of the interview.
4. Prepare your B1 visa documents file:
You must bring the commonly required business visa application documents with you to support your application. Your B1 visa application must contain the following additional documents:
- The confirmation page and the DS-160 form code.
- Your valid passport. You must have a passport that is valid for six months beyond your intended stay in the United States.
- Details of your social media accounts. A list of the social media you use and your name
- of your account in each.
- The interview confirmation page.
- A photo that meets the US visa photo requirements.
- A letter describing the purpose of your trip.
- Financial or bank statements to show that you have the finances to remain in the United States.
- Ties to your home country such as family, employment contract, lease or property deed, which demonstrate that you will return.
- Criminal records or letters from the authorities stating that you have no previous convictions.
- If you have already visited the United States, bring with you documents from your previous visits.
- If you work, bring with you a letter from your employer and your pay slips for the last three months.
- A letter from the company detailing the purpose of the trip and your job position.
5. Attend the interview:
On the day of the interview, bring your documents with you and prepare to answer the interviewer’s questions. You will be asked about your background, the purpose of your visit, what business you will do in the United States, and whether you plan to return. Answer specifically and provide details about what you plan to do in the United States.
How long is the B1 visa processing time?
B1 visa processing times are not exact. It may take a couple of weeks or a few months for your visa to process. This depends on the US Embassy’s workload and other factors they take into consideration. Once the processing time is complete, you will be notified whether you have obtained the visa or not.
How long does the B1 visa last?
The initial validity for which the B1 visa is granted is 6 months. The US Embassy will assume that for 6 months you will be able to complete all business you have in the country. This period is also enough time for you to visit and visit as many places in the United States as you want.
B1 visa extension:
After 6 months, you should return to your home country and not stay in the United States beyond the expiration date of your visa. However, if you want a B1 visa extension, you need to work with your employer on this. You must demonstrate that you have not completed all the tasks required to complete with a B1 visa. You must also receive confirmation letters from your employer or company demonstrating that your stay in the United States is essential for your business.
Remember though, you are not allowed to work for a US company and earn an income, so you must also demonstrate financial stability and have enough money to stay in the US.
Can I get a green card as a B1 visa holder?
To qualify to get the B1 visa, you must demonstrate that you will return to your home country. This means that you cannot plan to stay in the United States permanently. Since you have to prove and declare it during the interview, it is very difficult to get a green card while having a B1 visa. In order to obtain permanent residency with a B1 visa, you must:
- Have family in the US and apply to join them.
- Marry a U.S. citizen in a valid marriage and then apply for permanent residency.
- Find a job in the US where the employer is willing to sponsor your visa such as H-1B visa, then apply for the Green Card.
However, since the B1 visa is a business visitor visa, if you find work in the United States you will not be able to work for the company in your home country. This means that you will have to go through complicated procedures to change your status and prove that you had no intention of finding work in the United States, but an unexpected opportunity presented itself.
Can I access US healthcare on a business visa?
As a foreigner visiting the United States for tourism purposes you will not receive free healthcare. The American healthcare system is the most expensive in the world: treating a broken leg or broken arm will cost you $2,500, while staying in an American hospital for one night can cost over $10,000 on average.
Therefore, it is advisable to purchase a health insurance plan to cover these costs. You can learn more here about the various health insurance plans for visitors to the United States.
Can corporate visa holders bring dependents to the United States?
Unfortunately, since the B1 visa is an individual temporary visa, it does not provide dependent visas. This means that your spouse, children, or other family members will not be able to join you in the United States if you are the only one on the B1 visa. In order to join you will need to apply for a B2 visa or US tourist visa. With this visa they will be able to come and stay with you for 6 months, and then request extensions of up to 1 year if necessary.
Whether or not your family members get visas does not depend on whether you have a B1 visa. Each request is considered individually, so there must always be evidence of financial stability and intent to return home.