This post was most recently updated on April 24th, 2019
What is a business visa for USA?
A Business Visa is a non-immigrant visa that a foreigner may apply for to the USA. This type of visa grants entry for a temporary period. A business visa is appropriate for different business related activities such as attending a conference, business meetings and several other purposes. It is not however appropriate for conducting business.
A Business visa is one of a category of non-immigrant visas issued by the United States government to foreign citizens. The two types of B visa are the B-1 visa- given to people seeking entry for business purposes; and the B-2 visa- given to people seeking entry for tourism or other non-business purposes.
A B1/B2 visa combination is usually given to the applicant, simply meaning it can be used for business and pleasure. In practice, the two visa categories are usually combined together and issued as a B-1/B-2 visa valid for a temporary visit for either business or pleasure, or a combination of the two.
Foreigners from certain countries do not need to obtain a visa for business purposes.
For an up-to-date breakdown of eligible countries, you can visit the official website for United States Citizens and Immigration Services (USCIS) at https://www.uscis.gov/ or contact the embassy or consulate closest to you.
What Can I Do on a B1 visa?
You can consult with business associates, attend a scientific, educational, professional, or business convention or conference, negotiate contracts or settle an estate.
What Can’t I Do?
You cannot do the following on a B1 Visa: Become a full or part time student, perform and get paid for it, work in press or journalism, engage in any form of employment, enter as a crewmember on an aircraft or ship, seek permanent residence in the U.S.
Do I need to Apply for a B1 Visa?
If you are a citizen of one of the countries in the Visa Waiver Program, you will not need to apply for the visa. You can apply for an Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) instead. With the ESTA program you will not be required to go to the U.S Embassy in person and can get the visa much faster.
What Documents Do I need for Business Visa?
You should have the following documents for your visa interview.
- Complete the Nonimmigrant Visa Electronic Application (DS-160) form.
- Pay the visa application fee. And print the visa application fee receipt.
- Go along with all old passports. A passport valid for travel to the United States with a validity date at least six months beyond your intended period of stay in the United States (unless country-specific agreements provide exemptions). If more than one person is included in your passport, each person desiring a visa must submit a separate application.
- Schedule your appointment. You must schedule a visa interview appointment. (The U.S. Embassy or Consulate does not schedule an appointment for you.) Be sure to visit the U.S. Embassy or Consulate website where you will be interviewed for country-specific instructions.
- Visit the U.S. Embassy or Consulate on the date and time of your visa interview.
Each applicant irrespective of their age, must possess an individual passport valid for travel to the United States with a validity date at least six months beyond the intended period of stay.
Important: Each applicant irrespective of their age must have an individual passport with at least 6 months validity beyond the period of the intended stay
Since the main reason for a business visa interview is to demonstrate that the trip’s purpose is business related, the applicant should show evidence of the business event or transaction that he/she will be participating in as well as demonstrate strong ties back to your home country through proof of occupation and/or residency. He should be able to convince the consular officer that he has a valid Business reason to travel to USA.
You basically need to demonstrate that the purpose of visiting the USA is linked to business;
that your stay in the USA will be for a specific, limited period; You need to show proof of funds to cover expenses in the United States and provide evidence of compelling social and economic ties abroad; and provide proof of having a residence outside the US as well as other binding ties which will ensure your return to home at the end of the visit (such as proof of occupation).
You can visit https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/us-visas for more information.
What other Documents Do I need?
Some business visa documents that are recommended to strengthen your case are;
- A letter from employer requesting the Visa for the applicant addressed to consulate, indicating the purpose and length of the trip as well as the company’s/ firm’s intent to bear the costs of the entire trip, including lodging, food, medical and other expenses. (If you are employed and applying for the business visa sponsored by your employer/company)
- If you are business owner, you should show proof of funds (Bank statements, copy of passbook, Tax returns) that demonstrate your ability to support your trip.
- A business card (if you have one)
- Documents relating to company’s market and financial position with financial records, sources of funds, Tax papers and any newspaper/press coverage or Advertisement brochures about the company.
- If you are attending a business/educational/ commercial or professional seminar or conference you must have proof of the event registration, letter of invitation, brochure of event , any printed/media/website print-out having reference to this event.
(Note: Carry all Originals for interview. Except the visa fee, most of the other documents will be given back after the interview.)
Evidence of your employment and/or your family ties may be sufficient to show the purpose of your trip and your intent to return to your home country. If you cannot cover all the costs for your trip, you may show evidence that another person will cover some or all costs for your trip.
How much does it cost?
The cost of a B visa consists of the application fee, which all applicants must pay. This is currently 160 USD, and the issuance fee, which varies from country to country based on reciprocity, and is only paid if the visa is approved. Consult your local US consulate or embassy for more information.
Foreign nationals from the following countries have to pay the issuance fee:
Angola, Australia, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Comoros, Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, French nationals in New Caledonia and Wallis and Futuna, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Libya, Malawi, Mauritania, Myanmar, Oman, Papua New Guinea, Turkmenistan, Yemen.
Again, verify from your local US consulate or embassy for more information.
How long does it take?
You should apply for the visa as soon as possible but at least within 60 days before the travel date. Don’t book your travel tickets unless you get the visa. There are no annual quotas for B1. Generally it is given as a B1/B2 visa.