WHAT ARE BUSINESS VISAS?
Before knowing about business visas, first one needs to know what a visa is. A visa is merely a government document authorizing a traveler to enter, remain in and ultimately leave the country. Special visas must be provided in order for travelers to engage in certain activities. For example, student visas (or F-1 visas) may allow the bearer to study at a university, whereas tourist visas (or B-2 visas) demonstrate approval for leisure activities only. Business visas (or B-1 visas) may be provided to legitimate business travelers from around the world who need to travel to the United States for business-related reasons that do not involve actual labor nor being paid by sources within the U.S.A. Although a business visa does allow the bearer to engage in commerce in the United States, a work visa would be required in order to receive authorization for permanent employment.
WHAT ACTIVITIES ARE ALLOWED WITH A BUSINESS VISA?
Business visas allow the bearer to engage in commerce in the United States, but not to engage in regular, permanent employment. Accordingly, the types of activities that are approved under a business visa generally do not involve direct labor. Examples of approved activities might include consulting with business associates, negotiating contracts, making investments, settling estates, or attending conferences or conventions, whether business, professional, scientific or educational in nature.
Prohibited activities include any sort of productive or long-term work. For example, while the bearer of a B-1 visa could attend a board meeting for a company, he or she could not then stay to manage that company on a day-to-day basis. Accepting any form of paid or unpaid employment in the United States would not be acceptable with a B-1 visa. Returning to the previous example, the visiting employer with a B-1 visa could not stay to manage the company even if he accepted no pay for his labor. Certain activities often require a different kind of visa, such as studying at a university, working in the media, or performing as a professional athlete or entertainer.
HOW DO I OBTAIN A BUSINESS VISA?
In order to receive a business visa, you must first submit an application. The Non-immigrant Visa Application Form is available to submit online. As a part of the application process, you will need to upload a photograph that meets certain requirements. If you are between the ages of 14-79, you will likely need to be interviewed at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate located in the country where you live. You may also schedule your interview at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate in a different country, but you should bear in mind that it may be more difficult for you to qualify for a visa when outside your country of origin.
WHAT IF MY VISA APPLICATION IS DENIED?
Although most visa applications are approved, there are certain situations where a visa application may be denied. A consular officer could deny your application because he does not have all of the information required to determine your eligibility, or because you do not meet the criteria to qualify for the category to which you applied, or possibly because the law specifies that visas may otherwise be denied on certain grounds. For example, past actions such as drug-trafficking or other criminal activities may make a person ineligible for a visa.
In most cases, you will be notified why your visa application is denied. The consular officer may also inform you if you may apply for a waiver of your ineligibility. Applicants who believe their circumstances have changed significantly since their prior application was denied may certainly reapply. You may wish to consult with an experienced attorney, as the legal codes that govern visa eligibility can be complex.