B-1 visas are nonimmigrant visas for persons traveling to the United States temporarily to engage in business activities such as the negotiation of contracts, consultation with business associates, litigation, and participation in scientific, educational, professional or business conventions, conferences or seminars and other legitimate activities of a commercial or professional nature.
It does not generally allow for gainful employment or productive activity such as operating a business or consultancy work. The following are additional activities that can be conducted on the B-1 visa.
Please see CBP’s fact sheet (PDF, 219KB, 3 pages) for more information about permissible activities in the United States as the holder of a valid B-1 visa.
If you are traveling to the United States to take part in an exhibition, set up an exhibition booth, display samples, sign contracts, and take orders for merchandise produced in and delivered from the United Kingdom, you may be eligible for a B-1 visa. The holder of a B-1 visa may not sell or take orders for merchandise produced in the United States. If your proposed activities are not as described, a temporary work (H-2) visa will be required.
If you are traveling to the United States to install, service or repair commercial or industrial equipment or machinery sold by a company in the United Kingdom to a buyer in the United States, and the purchase contract requires that the U.K. company provide such services, you may be eligible for the B-1 visa. In order to qualify for the B-1, you must possess the specialized knowledge essential to perform the services, receive no remuneration from a U.S. source, and the company must not receive any payment for these services in addition to that specified in the original contract of sale.
If the proposed activities are not exactly as described, you will require a temporary work (H-2) visa. Please note that the B-1 visa does not cover building or construction work, even if the purchase contract requires that the co
Speaker or Lecturer
If you are traveling to the United States in connection with a speaking engagement you may be eligible for a B-1 visa if you will receive no remuneration from a U.S. source, other than expenses incidental to the visit. Speakers/lectures who will receive an honorarium in addition to incidental expenses may still be eligible for the B-1 visa if the following are met:
• the activities will last no longer than nine days
at a single institution;
• the institution is a nonprofit research organization
or a governmental research organization, or an
institution of higher education, or a related or
affiliated nonprofit entity;
• such activities are conducted for the benefit of the
institution or entity; and
• you have not accepted such payment or expenses from five
such institutions during the previous six month period.
If you are traveling to the United States to survey potential sites for a business and/or to lease premises, you will require a B-1 visa. You cannot, however, remain in the United States on a B-1 visa to manage the business; for that, you will require an L-1 (intra-company transferee) visa. The holder of an L-1 visa may travel to the United States for a temporary period to open up and operate a branch, subsidiary or affiliate office of the business there. To qualify, the new U.S. operation is required to file a petition on the employee’s behalf with the nearest office of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) in the United States.
If you are a participant in a scientific, educational, professional, or business conventions, conference or seminar, you may qualify for a B-1 visa. The B-1 visa is also appropriate if presenting a paper at the conference, provided there is no remuneration from a U.S. source other than expenses incidental to the visit. If you will receive an honorarium in addition to incidental expenses you will only be eligible for the B-1 visa if all of the following are met:
• the activities will last no longer than nine days at a single institution;
• the institution is a nonprofit research organization or a governmental research organization, or an institution of higher education, or a related or affiliated nonprofit entity;
• such activities are conducted for the benefit of the institution
or entity; and
• you have not accepted such payment or expenses from five such institutions during the previous six month period.If the proposed activities are not exactly as described, an exchange visitor (J-1) or temporary work (H-1) visa will be required.Note: Applicants seeking visas to attend a technical conference may be subject to additional administrative processing. We are unable to provide you with any guidance on how long your application will take to process, but we recommend that you do not make any final travel plans unless you have received your passport with a visa in it.
If you will engage in independent research you may be eligible for a B-1 visa provided there is no remuneration from a U.S. source and the results of the research will not benefit the U.S. institution. If you will receive payment from a U.S. source and/or the U.S. institution will benefit from the results of the research, you will require an exchange visitor (J-1) or temporary work (H-1) visa.
If you are a medical student studying at a foreign medical school and you seek to enter the United States temporarily in order to take an “elective clerkship” at a U.S. medical school’s hospital without remuneration from the hospital, you may eligible for a B-1 visa.
Note: The medical clerkship is only for medical students pursuing their normal third or fourth year internship in a U.S. medical school as part of a foreign medical school degree and does not cover those seeking training as physiotherapists, dentists, nurses or vets.
(An “elective clerkship” affords practical experience and instructions in the various disciplines of medicine under the supervision and direction of faculty physicians at a U.S. medical school’s hospital as an approved part of the alien’s foreign medical school education. It does not apply to graduate medical training, which normally requires a J-visa).
If you are participating in a voluntary service program which benefits a U.S. local community, and you can establish that you are a member of, and have a commitment to, a particular recognized religious or nonprofit charitable organization, you may be eligible for a B-1 visa.
- the work performed must traditionally be done by volunteer charity workers;
- you will receive no salary or remuneration from a U.S. source, other than an allowance or other reimbursement for expenses incidental to your stay in the United States; and
- you will not engage in the selling of articles and/or the solicitation and acceptance of donations.
A voluntary service program is an organized project conducted by a recognized religious or nonprofit charitable organization to provide assistance to the poor or the needy, or to further a religious or charitable cause.
Working in the Outer Continental Shelf
If you are performing services on the Outer Continental Shelf you may be eligible for a B-1 visa; you will not require a C-1/D visa and you cannot travel visa free under the Visa Waiver Program.
You are required to provide a letter your employer naming the specific ships(s) and length of time they will be required to perform services.
You are also required to furnish a letter from the U.S. Coastguard confirming that the ship(s) named in your employer’s letter have been exempted from the OCSLA regulations restricting the employment of non-Americans and non-resident aliens on the OCS.