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5 Things You Can Not Do on a U.S. Business Visa

A B-1 visa, commonly known as a US business visa, allows a foreign national the opportunity to visit the U.S. for business purposes. B-1 visa holders are permitted to enter the U.S. to engage in a wide range of business activities, including negotiating contracts, developing business relationships, participating in a conference or seminar, exploring investment opportunities, and laying the groundwork for starting a company. However, individuals must be mindful that not all business-related activities are allowable while on a B-1 visa. Below are five examples of activities that are not permitted while on a B-1 visa:

1. You may not manage or operate your business on a daily basis while on a US Business Visa.

While doing much of the groundwork prior to starting a business – such as leasing premises or opening a bank account – is permissible on a US business visa, once it is time to open the doors, you will require a work visa that would permit you to actually run the business. Other potential work visa options include the L1 intra-company transfer visa or the E2 investor visa.

2. You may not work for pay from a U.S. source.

Receiving compensation from a U.S. company for work performed is not permissible on a B-1 visa. B-1 visas are not intended to provide the opportunity for gainful employment in the U.S. It is also prohibited to perform professional services on an individual, contract basis to a U.S. organization on a US business visa.

3. You may not accept unpaid employment.

Do not assume that if you remove the compensation issue, then it would be permissible to work in the U.S. on a B-1 visa. If the company typically pays for the type of services you are providing, then providing that service is a prohibited B-1 activity. Stating that you are simply volunteering will not make this activity permissible.

4. You may not participate in an internship training program with a U.S. based employer, whether paid or unpaid.

You should instead apply for the H-3 Temporary Worker Trainee visa or the J Exchange Visitor visa.

5. You may not participate in events as a professional entertainer.

Similar to the other prohibited activities listed above, entertainers would be engaging in impermissible business activities if they will be performing in the U.S. as professionals in their industry. Choosing a different visa category, such as the P visa for entertainers, would be a more appropriate visa option.

It should be noted that this is not an all-inclusive list of impermissible B-1 visa activities. If you have questions about whether certain activities are allowed while on the B-1 visa, or if you are interested in learning more about other visa categories that might be more appropriate for your intended purpose of travel to the U.S., contact the Alagiri Immigration Law Firm. We will be able to examine your case on an individual basis and recommend the best type of visa for you.