B1 Visa Requirements [The 4 You Need to Know]

B1 Visa Requirements [The 4 You Need to Know]


One of the most common visas to the United States is the B1 visitor visa. Today we will be discussing the B1 Visa Requirements. By the end of this post, you should have a clear understanding of what are the requirements to get a B1 visa.



1. What is the B1 Visa?


2. What are the B1 Visa Requirements?


3. Breakdown of Each of the 4 Main B1 Visa Requirements


  1. Is there a Valid Reason for the Visit to the United States?
    • Is the Purpose of the US Visit to Engage in Lawful Business Activities?
  2. Can you demonstrate non-immigrant intent?
    • Will you Maintain a Residence in a Foreign County? and
    • Do you not Intend to Abandon Your Foreign Residence?
  3. Will Your Visit to the US have a Specific Duration of Time?
  4. Do you have Sufficient Funds for the Expenses of your Visit?


4. Conclusion


What is the B1 Visa?


  • The B1 visa is a non-immigrant visa for foreign nationals to come to the United States to conduct business activities.


  • The B1 visa allows foreign nationals to visit the United States for short periods of time (usually for a period of six months).


  • The B1 visa does not allow you to work in the United States.


What are the B1 Visa Requirements?


There are 4 main requirements to get a B1 Visa:


1. You must have a valid reason for visiting the US


  • The purpose of your visit should be to engage in lawful business activities


2. You must be able to prove that you have non-immigrant intent.


  • You must maintain a residence in a foreign country that you do not intend to abandon; and


  • You must have strong ties to your foreign residence;


3. Your trip to the US must have a specific duration of time.


4. You must have sufficient funds to cover the expenses of your visit to the US.


Lets now go over what each of these requirements means.


Do You Have a Valid Reason for Visiting the United States?


The first thing that you have to prove, to get a B1 visa, is that you are coming to the United States for a valid purpose.


The purpose of the B1 visa is for foreign nationals to come to the US temporarily for “business.”


To qualify for a B1 visa, you must be able to show that the purpose of your visit to the US is to engage in lawful business activities.


Keep in mind: with a B1 visa, you are not permitted to engage in employment in the US.


The general idea of lawful business activities for a B1 visa is that you will be conducting activities for your profession, but these activities will not be local employment, hired labor, or hands-on work.


Employment, which is not allowed, is defined as “any service or labor performed in the United States by an individual… for wages or other remuneration.”


With a B1 visa, you should not be engaging in any “hands-on” work while you are in the United States.


So now that we know what is not permitted on a B1 visa, lets go over what is permitted.



The Department of State has identified the following activities as permissible activities while on a B1 visa:


  • Engage in commercial transactions;


  • Negotiate contract;


  • Consult with business associates;


  • Litigate;


  • Participate in scientific, educational, professional or business conventions, conferences, or seminars; or


  • Undertake independent research.


[See here for the exact regulations on permissible activities: 9FAM 402.2-5(B)]


Some Additional Information on Commercial Transactions


  • Commercial transactions are defined as any lawful activity performed to derive a profit including “the purchase, sale, marketing, distribution, advertisement, negotiation, procurement, transmission, or transportation of goods or services.” [OI 214.2]


  • An example of a commercial transaction that is admissible with a B1 visa is delivering a shipment of tuna from your foreign company abroad to the United States.


3 Questions to Ask Yourself Regarding Commercial Transactions:


Here’s a list of 3 questions you should ask yourself when thinking about whether the activities you plan to do while on a B1 visa are permitted.


The answer to each of these questions should be yes. If not, you are probably engaging in activities that are not allowed.


  1. Is your company’s principal place of business abroad?
  2. Are your activities in the US to benefit your foreign company?
  3. Will you not earn any income in the US?


Now that we’ve discussed the activities that are allowed on a B1 visa, let’s talk about the concept of non-immigrant intent.


Do You Have Non-Immigrant Intent and Can You Prove it?


Non-immigrant intent is one of the most important requirements to get a B1 visa.


To understand non-immigrant intent, you should first understand what immigrant intent is. Immigrant intent is when you intend to come to the United States and remain their permanently.


Non-immigrant intent is when you plan to return home when you are done with whatever activity you came to the United States to do. In other words, you do not intend to abandon your foreign residence.


As a B1 visa applicant, you are presumed to have immigrant-intent.


In order to get a B1 visa, you have to overcome the presumption of immigrant intent.


In order to overcome the presumption of immigrant intent, you must submit sufficient evidence proving your non-immigrant intent.


If you are unable to overcome the presumption of immigrant intent, your B1 visa application will likely be denied based on INA Section 214(b) (failure to show that you are entitled to non-immigrant status).


Now that we’ve discussed non-immigrant intent, let’s go over how to prove that you have non-immigrant intent.


There are 2 basic things that you must show to overcome a presumption of immigrant intent:


  1. That you maintain a residence in a foreign country; and
  2. That you do not intend to abandon your foreign residence.


Do You Maintain a Residence in a Foreign Country?


Showing that you have a residence in a foreign company is the starting point to showing that you have non-immigrant intent.


Helpful information on your residence:


  • You can prove that you have a foreign residence by submitting evidence of a title to property, a rental agreement, lease, etc.


  • You do not have to be listed on the lease, title, rental agreement. Someone else’s household may still qualify as your residence.


  • Your residence does not need to be in your country of citizenship. You can have a residence in another country.


  • A lease of property is weaker evidence of a foreign residence than ownership of a property (especially very short leases).


  • If your name is not on the title or the rental agreement, you should also include evidence of your relationship to the person whose name is on the lease or title.

Do You Not Intend to Abandon Your Foreign Residence?


Now that you’ve shown that you have a foreign residence, you have to show that you do not intend to abandon your foreign residence.


The way to show that you do not intend to abandon your foreign residence is by showing strong ties to your foreign residence.


Do You Have Strong Ties to Your Foreign Residence?


Here, the goal is to show that you have commitments, responsibilities, family, professional obligations, etc. which tie you to your foreign residence.


Examples of Evidence to Show Ties to Your Foreign Residence:


  • Letter showing employment in your home country;


  • Lease/title of property;


  • Paperwork showing ownership of a business in your home country;


  • Bank account statements;


  • Utility bills;


  • Cell phone bill;


  • Gym membership;


  • Tax returns;


  • Marriage certificate to spouse living abroad;


  • Birth certificates of children living abroad;


  • Evidence showing you care for someone living abroad;


  • Etc.


Does Your Trip to the US have a Specific Duration of Time?


The third requirement has to do with the duration of time your trip is going to last.


You are required to show that you will be visiting the United States for a specific limited period of time. You must also show with “reasonable certainty” that you will be leaving the United States once you are finished with whatever you came to the United States to do. [9 FAM 402.2-2(B)]


This requirement also has to do with proving that you have non-immigrant intent.


If you do not sufficiently show that your visit to the United States has a limited duration, you will be unable to overcome the presumption of immigrant intent and your visa will likely be denied under INA Section 214(b) (failure to show that you are entitled to non-immigrant status).


How you prove that your trip will have specific duration of time depends on what you are coming to the United States to do.


For example: If you are coming to the US to give a lecture at a university, you should provide your invitation to speak at the university along with the schedule of the event, along with any other relevant documentation.


Do You Have Sufficient Funds to Cover the Expenses of Your Visit to the US?


This is the last of the 4 major B1 visa requirements.


To get a B1 visa, you must show that you are in possession of sufficient funds to cover the expenses of your trip to the US. You must prove that you have sufficient funds at the time of your B1 visa application.


As discussed above, with a B1 visa, you are not permitted to engage in employment in the United States.


This requirement ensures that you have the ability to remain in the US without working unlawfully.


Here are some permitted ways to demonstrate sufficient funds:


  • Bank statements evidencing sufficient funds;


  • Evidence of a salary from a foreign employer;


  • Evidence of a US company reimbursing your incurred expenses as a result of the US visit;


  • Evidence that a US friend or family member will cover some or all of the costs of your visit to the US.



At this point you should have a good understanding of the 4 main B1 visa requirements.

B1 Visa Requirements (Recap):


First, you must show that there’s a valid reason for your visit to the US. For a B1 visa, the reason for your visit to the US should be to engage in lawful business activities.


  • Remember, on a B1 visa, you are not permitted to engage in employment in the US.


  • Here are some of the activities you can do:
    • Engage in commercial transactions;
    • Negotiate contract;
    • Consult with business associates;
    • Litigate;
    • Participate in scientific, educational, professional or business conventions, conferences, or seminars; or
    • Undertake independent research.


Second, you must show that you maintain a residence in a foreign country that you do not intend to abandon.


Third, you must show that your visit to the US will have a specific duration of time.


And fourth, you must show that you have sufficient funds for the expenses of your visit to the US.


If you have any questions regarding any of the information covered, please feel free to email me directly at Michael@AshooriLaw.com


I’m very responsive to emails and I would be happy to answer your questions.


Ashoori Law is an immigration law firm focused on helping entrepreneurs and other business professionals get visas to the United States.


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Michael Ashoori Headshot

Michael Ashoori, Esq.

President of Ashoori Law

I’m a U.S. immigration lawyer and I help families, professionals, investors, and entrepreneurs get visas, green cards, and citizenship to the United States.

Since starting my law firm, I’ve helped thousands of people from all over the world with their immigration needs. I’m very passionate, hard-working, and committed to my clients.

Got a question? Send me an email.