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B-1 Visa

HOW TO OBTAIN A BUSINESS (B-1) VISA

A business (B-1) visa permits up to six months in the U.S. for certain business-related purposes. It can often be a good option for traveling back and forth to the United States instead of a tourist visa (B-2) visa – especially for certain types of travel.

This article describes the terms and conditions for obtaining a B-1 visa from a U.S. Consulate.

What is a B1 visa for?

Here are some examples of valid business-related travel under a B-1 visa:

• Foreign nationals coming to meet potential business partners, investors, distributors or suppliers;

• Foreign nationals coming to consider investment in the U.S.;

• Foreign nationals coming for professional programs or conventions,to meet colleagues in one’s field or for other professional opportunities, a business visa is more appropriate.

What documentation should I present to obtain a B1 visa?

The importance of documenting the business purpose of the trip cannot be overemphasized. Here are some of the documents that we recommend that you present to the Consulate:

• proposed contracts;

• letters with potential business partners;

• proof of one’s own business activities in your home country;

• business cards or if possible,

• letters or statements from the business associates you will be visiting in the U.S. as to the business purpose of your trip.

Applications should be supported by documentation that supports the purpose for the visa.

If you are coming for a business meeting, submit a letter inviting you to the meeting from your business partner.

If you are coming for a conference, submit copies of the conference materials.

If you intend to travel throughout the U.S. and visit certain tourist spots, come prepared with itineraries, reservations, hotel bookings in hand. The documentation should be authentic and substantial.

What financial documentation supports a B1 visa?

The applicant must show the consulate proof of their own money or other financial resources to support themselves while here. This should be documented by copies of bank statements or receipts or proof of salary.

Be prepared to explain how you will support yourself in the U.S. for the entire length of your visa.

It is also important to show "ties to the home country", in other words, property, employment or immediate family left behind that would cause you to return. Bring proof of your house or flat ownership.

Bring a letter from your employment or other proof that you are employed.

If you have family such as a spouse or children that are not coming to the U.S., bring proof of that such as marriage and birth certificates.

If you have traveled to the U.S. or other Western countries before, it's wise to point that out; it shows a propensity to return home after a visit abroad. Of course, this is only helpful if one returned in accordance with the time limits in their visa.

What arguments support a B1 visa?

I find it helpful for the applicant to present the Consulate with a detailed cover letter -- laying out exactly why he or she wants the visa, citing the financial and other ties to the home country, setting forth the basis for his financial support in the U.S. and the exact purpose of his trip, referencing the documents attached.

This gives the consul a summary of the whole package that he or she can read quickly.

As tourist visas are more and more difficult to obtain, presenting a well-documented application for a business visa is often a better choice.

Our office can help you present the strongest possible package to support your B1 visa application to the Consulate. If you’re interested in hiring us for this purpose, please contact our office.

WARNING: The article above is not intended to be a substitute for legal advice. We recommend that you get competent legal advice specific to your case.

More Information:

  • B1 Visas (USCIS)
  • B-1 Visas - Document Checklist (Kerosky, Purves & Bogue LLP)
  • B-1 Visa FAQ (Kerosky, Purves & Bogue LLP)