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Knowing in depth what a B1 visa is could be key if you are a temporary business traveler to the United States. In this article we will explain what the B-1 visa is, what it is for and how it works nowadays.

This category is usually one of the most popular among the different types of American visas . If you need assistance processing this visa or have additional questions, our Los Angeles immigration lawyers have over 50 years of combined experience helping alien nationals with these cases.

You are just one step away from full professional assistance. You can contact us today and we will provide you with the help you need in this process. 


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What Is A Type B1 Visa For The United States In 2024

The B-1 nonimmigrant visa allows alien nationals to travel to the United States temporarily for business reasons of a professional or commercial nature. Includes, but is not limited to the following activities:

  • Participate in short-term trainings;
  • Negotiate contracts;
  • Consult with business partners;
  • Attend business, educational, scientific, or professional conventions, or attend a scheduled conference;
  • Take care of a property;
  • Transit through the United States;
  • Being part of an aircrew in transit through the US that is not on duty (Deadheading).
us transit visa

Although certain non-duty crewmembers may transit the US on a B-1 visa, there are specific visas for transit to the US. Check our blogs on the US transit visa and crewmember visa for more information. 

What Are The Requirements For The B1 Visa?

Now that you know what a B1 visa is, it’s time to learn about its eligibility criteria. Such requirements are:

  • The purpose of travel to the US is for business or another legitimate reason;
  • You are admissible to the United States;
  • The stay in the US is for a specific limited period of time;
  • You have a residence outside the US that you do not intend to abandon and you have ties that guarantee your return abroad once your visit is over;
  • You have sufficient funds to cover travel expenses and your stay in the US.

How To Apply For The B1 Visa?

To apply for the B-1 visa, you must follow the next steps:

  1. Fill out Form DS-160 online. While completing it, you must upload a photograph following the requested requirements;
  2. Once the form is completed, print the confirmation sheet;
  3. Pay the $160 application fee;
  4. Schedule an interview at the US embassy in your home country;
  5. Prepare all the necessary documents for the application;
  6. Go to the interview on the established date. 

If you are in the United States under another valid nonimmigrant status, you may be eligible to change it to B-1 status. To do this, you must file Form I-539 with USCIS, Application for Extension or Change of Nonimmigrant Status. 

Documentation Required To Process The B-1 Visa

You must ensure that you have all the necessary supporting documents for your B-1 visa application. These documents are what show that you are eligible to obtain it. 

business visa b1

In addition to the standard supporting documentation, you must submit the following additional documents: 

  • Printed confirmation page of the DS-160 form and the confirmation code;
  • US embassy interview confirmation page;
  • An identity photo that meets the visa requirements;
  • Bank statements or any other evidence that shows you can afford to be in the US;
  • Evidence of your ties to your country of origin showing that you will return at the end of your stay. It can be a work contract, lease, your family and so on;
  • Memorandum detailing your reasons for staying in the US; 
  • Documentation of your previous stays in the US (if applicable);
  • Employer letter detailing the reasons for your trip and your role within the company (if applicable);
  • Criminal history records or a letter from the administration showing that you do not have a previous conviction.

If you do not have any of these documents, your application may be delayed. To avoid this, consult with our immigration attorneys. In addition, they are also criminal lawyers in Los Angeles who can help you determine how to clean your criminal record.

What Can Be Done With A B-1 Visa?

Knowing what a B1 visa is in depth will be key to your trip and stay in the US. Although this nonimmigrant visa allows commercial and business activities, there are other additional legitimate activities:

Professional Athletics

Professional athletes may be eligible to obtain the B-1 visa, as long as:

  • They don’t receive wages, compensation, or income from a US-based business or entity, other than prize money for participation in the sporting event or tournament;
  • They do not stay in the US playing on a US team;
  • The foreign athlete and sports team have their principal place of business or activity in a foreign country;
  • All income of the team and the salary of its players are accumulated in a foreign country;
  • The sports team based in a foreign country is a member of an international sports league or its sports activities have an international dimension.


Aliens who participate in conventions, scientific, educational, professional or commercial seminars may qualify for this visa. But you must comply with the following:

  • Activities in a single institution have a maximum duration of 9 days;
  • The institution is a government organization, a nonprofit research organization, an institution of higher education, or an affiliated or related nonprofit entity;
  • The activities carried out are for the benefit of the institution or entity;
  • Aliens have not accepted payments or expenses from 5 institutions of this type during the previous 6-month period.  
temporary business visitor to the united states

In case your activities are not exactly as outlined, you may be eligible for a J-1 visa or a temporary work visa (H-1).

We invite you to enter our article dedicated to the H-1B visa where you will find detailed information about this category.

Inspection For Commercial Companies

If your reason for coming to the US is to inspect potential sites for a prospective business or lease premises, you may require a B-1 visa. However, you are not permitted to remain in the US to conduct such business.

In order to legally manage them, you need L-1 visas. To qualify for this visa, the new US operative must file a petition on your behalf with USCIS.

Engineering Services 

Alien engineers traveling to the US to service, install or repair commercial or industrial equipment, machinery sold by a non-US company to an American buyer may be eligible for the B-1 visa. However, such services must be specifically stipulated in the purchase contract. 

If your activities are not exactly as described above, you may need an H-2 temporary work visa. Please note that category B-1 does not cover construction or building work, even if the purchase contract states so. 

Check our H-2A visa and H-2B visas articles for further information. 

Medical Electives

Also eligible for the B-1 category are medical students attending a foreign school who enter the US for an unpaid temporary elective internship at a US medical teaching hospital.

Voluntary Jobs 

Aliens who participate in a volunteer service program that benefits a local US community and demonstrate membership in a nonprofit or religious charitable organization may also be eligible for B-1 status. However, to qualify:

  • The work performed must be done by charitable volunteer workers;
  • You can’t receive a salary or compensation from US sources, other than an allowance or other reimbursement for expenses in connection with your stay in the US;
  • You can’t participate in item sales and/or solicitations and acceptance of donations.

Note: A volunteer service program is a project organized by religious charities and nonprofit organizations that are recognized for providing assistance to the poor and needy or promoting a religious or charitable cause.

Works On The Outer Continental Shelf

Aliens serving on the outer continental shelf may be eligible to apply for a B-1 visa, without the need to require a C-1/D visa.


Foreigners who participate in a dependent investigation can apply for the B-1 visa. As long as there is no remuneration from US sources. Furthermore, the research results do not benefit the US institution. 

If paid by a US source and/or the US institution will benefit from the results of the research, in which case a J-1 or H-1 visa is required.

what is the b1 visa for business purposes in the us


If the aliens’ purpose in the US is to display, order, negotiate, and sign contracts for products produced outside the US, they may be eligible for B-1 status.

What Will You Not Be Able To Do With A B1 Visa In The United States?

There are travel purposes not allowed for the B-1 visa such as:

  • Study;
  • Getting a job;
  • Participate in paid performances or any professional performance to a paying audience;
  • Arrive as a crew member on a plane or ship;
  • Stay in the US for the purpose of becoming a permanent resident;
  • Work as foreign press, radio, cinema, print journalism or other information media.
i visa

If you are in the foreign media and wish to enter the US for this purpose, you may be eligible for the Media I visa.

B1 Nonimmigrant Visitors Who Are Personal Employees Or Employees Of Foreign Airlines

Domestic or foreign airline employees may be eligible for the B-1 visa if their activities in the US are related to their employment abroad, plus:

  • The domestic or personal employee is accompanying or traveling to join their employer who is seeking admission or is already in the US under B, E, F, H, I, J, L, or TN nonimmigrant categories;
  • The domestic or personal employee works for a US citizen and has a permanent address or resides in a foreign country;
  • Certain employees of foreign airlines.

Note: Such activities are considered prohibited employment or contract labor within the US.

An employment authorization document (EAD) is not required by USCIS to perform activities under B-1 status. However, the EAD can be received by filing Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization.

What Is The Difference Between The B-1 And B-2 Visa?

The difference between the B-1 and B-2 visa is mainly the travel purpose:  

  • B-1 business visa. Allows you to stay in the US temporarily for business-related activities only;
  • B-2 tourist visa. It allows to enter the country for purposes of recreation, tourism or visits to family and friends. It is also used to travel for medical reasons.

Foreigners who belong to the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) will not need to apply for one of these visas.

On our website you will find an article dedicated entirely to how to get a tourist visa for the USA. You may also be interested in reviewing our article on the ESTA permit application .

How Long Can You Stay In The US On A B1 Visa?

The B-1 visa has an initial period of stay of 1 to 6 months and this period can be extended for an additional 6 months if necessary. Therefore, the maximum period of total stay in the US is one year. In addition, the B-1 visa is valid for 10 years.

  • An immigration officer authorizes your admission to the US at the port of entry. 
  • If you are eligible to enter the country, you are given an initial period necessary to cover your business activities in the US. If you want or need to stay longer than what is stated on your Form I-94 , entry/exit record , without leaving the US you have to file form I-539 with USCIS to extend your stay.

Frequently Asked Questions About The B1 Business Visa

Can my relatives accompany me if I have the B-1 Visa?

The B-1 business visa does not have a dependent visa, so your family members must apply for a separate B-2 visa if they wish to accompany you. Children and infants also need to have their own B-2 visa.

What is a B-1/B-2 Visa? 

The B-1/B-2 visa is the combination of the B-1 and B-2 visas, thus allowing the holder to enter the United States for business and tourism activities at the same time. To get a combined B-1/B-2 visa, you must follow the same steps and meet the same requirements for each of these separate b1 and b2

Can I Get The Green Card With The B-1 Visa?

You cannot obtain a Green Card through the B-1 visa as it is a temporary visa. Also, part of the application process is that you will not stay in the US and upon completion of your activity, you must leave the country.

Do I Have Access To US Health Care With A Business Visa?

If you are visiting the US for tourism or business purposes, you will not receive any free medical care. Therefore, we recommend that you get a good health insurance plan.

How long is the B-1 Visa Processing Time?

The processing time for the B-1 visa is not of an specified period, as it can take a couple of weeks or a few months. The time depends on the workload of the US embassy or other factors.

Can I Renew The B-1 Visa?

Whether you are applying for the visa for the first time or renewing it, the same application process will be used. Certain alien nationals seeking to renew their visa may be eligible for the interview waiver (IW). This waiver allows qualified aliens to apply for renewal without being interviewed in person by a consular officer.

Do I need a Business Visa if I have an ABTC?

Holding an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Business Traveler Card (ABTC) will not change your visa requirements, status or process. So you will need a B-1 business visa.

If I am a Canadian citizen, do I need a B1 Visa?

Both Canadian and Bermudian citizens do not need visas to enter the US for the purpose of tourism, visiting, and temporary business travel.

What if I am a Chinese citizen?

Under the existing agreement between the US and China to extend visa validity, Chinese citizens with 10-year B-1, B-2 or B-1/B-2 visas in China passports have to update their biographical information every two years. You will do this by obtaining a new passport or a new B-1, B-2 or B-1/B-2 visa, whichever comes first.

If I am a citizen of Mexico, do I need a Business Visa?

Citizens and permanent residents of Mexico generally need to have a nonimmigrant visa or border crossing card (known as a laser visa). To make it easier for you to travel to the US, the B-1/B-2 visa and laser visa have been combined into one document (DSP-150).

Do I need the B-1 Visa or the ESTA Permit?

If your stay in the US will be for less than 90 days, you do not need to apply for a B-1 visa. You simply need to apply for the ESTA application online

Lawyers In Los Angeles For Your B1 Visa

Now you know what a US B1 visa is you will have noticed that applying for it can be complex. The law firm of Lluis Law is renowned for having over 50 years of combined experience helping immigrants through the US immigration system.

Before submitting your application for this visa, it is important that you check and determine if it really is the most appropriate for your trip to the United States. Our experienced attorneys will evaluate your eligibility, options, and be with you throughout this process.


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