Business Visa USA – The B1 Visa Explained

If you’re a foreign citizen that needs to do business in the United States, high chances are you’ll need a business visa (B-1). As a visitor visa (nonimmigrant) that falls under the category of B-1, a business visa USA lets you stay temporarily in the United States and engage in business activities.

Below we cover the criteria for obtaining one, as well as the application process.

What is the Business Visa USA

B-1 visas are nonimmigrant visas issued by the U.S. government. They enable individuals to temporarily travel to the United States to conduct business. On a B 1, you can’t be engaged in employment or perform duties like consultancy work. 

The US government has provided examples of what you can do on a B-1 visitor visa. This includes:

  • Attend business meetings or consultations
  • Go to a business convention or conference
  • Settle an estate
  • Negotiate contracts

For a full list of permissible activities on a visitor visa b-1 allowed by the US government, go to this site here.


The B1 visa is your window into fostering business relationships and visiting the United States as many times as needed for your business affairs. After your visa expires, you can easily apply for another one. The best part is, there’s no cap on how many visas can be issued each year. 

Do I Need a B-1 Visa for the US?

If you fall under any of these categories, you’re probably eligible for the business visa:

  • Selling/setting up a booth/fair/etc.
  • Service engineer
  • Speaker or lecturer
  • Business venture
  • Conference
  • Researcher
  • Medical elective
  • Voluntary work
  • Working in the Outer Continental Shelf

Having said that though, you don’t always need a B-1 visa to enter the United States. If you’re a citizen from one of the countries part of the Visa Waiver Program, you don’t need a visa to enter. Simply apply for an Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) instead.

The Visa Waiver Program in a nutshell:

The Visa Waiver Program lets citizens of 35 countries travel to the US for tourism or business, for 90 days or less, without needing a visa. Citizens of participating countries must meet the eligibility criteria to travel without a visa on the visa waiver scheme. For more information, visit the United States Department of State official website here.

Eligibility Criteria for the Business Visa USA

To get the B-1 visa you need to tick the following boxes:

  • Have a business-related intent for visiting the US
  • You’re financially covered for your stay
  • You intent to return to your home country as soon as your visa expires (unless you must extend it to further engage in business affairs)
  • Submit valid documentation to support your application.

Step-By-Step to the B-1 Application Process

1. Complete Form DS-160 & pay the B-1 visa fees

2. Schedule your visa interview

3. Prepare your B1 visa documents to file

4. Attend the interview

Document Requirements for the B-1 visa

You must have the following documents to support your visa application:

  • The Form DS-160 confirmation page and code.
  • A copy of a valid passport, that is valid at least six months beyond your planned stay in the US. 
  • A list of the social media accounts that you use, with the name of each count listed.
  • Interview confirmation
  • A photo that complies with the US Visa photo requirements.
  • A letter which describes the purpose of your trip.
  • Financial or bank statements to prove you have the finances to stay in the US.
  • Ties to your home country such as family, job contract, lease, or property deed, which prove you will return.
  • Criminal records or letters from authorities stating that you do not have prior convictions.
  • If you have visited the US before, bring documents relevant to your prior visits.
  • If you work, bring a letter from your employer and payslips for the last three months.
  • A letter from the company detailing the purpose of the trip and your job position.

Important note: You must come to your interview with all your documents on hand. Be prepared to answer questions from the interviewer as to the nature of your visit to the United States. You also may be asked about your background, what business you will be doing in the US, and whether you intend to return. Answer in specifics to enhance the chances of your B-1  visa getting approved.

Can I Get a Green Card as a B1 Visa Holder?

Sadly, you can’t acquire a green card as a B 1 holder. One of the criteria for acquiring a B 1 is to prove you intend to return to your home country. This means you cannot make plans to stay in the US permanently. If you are interested in obtaining permanent residence in the US, then perhaps look into the US’s two other visas, the EB5 Visa USA Permanent Resident or the E2 visa USA. Both visas let you stay in the US indefinitely, and provide an opportunity to apply for a green card.

Frequently Asked Questions About Business Visa USA

What is the B1 visa?

It’s a temporary business visitor visa that allows foreign citizens to travel to the US and conduct business for a period of up to six months.

How long is the B1 Visa valid for?

The B-1 for the United States is valid for six months. Afterward, you must go back to your home country unless you can prove you need to continue conducting business endeavors in the US. In which case, you’ll need to request an extension.

Can I extend my United States B-1 visa?

After the six-month mark, you are expected to return to your home country and not overstay your visa. However, you can request a visa extension, provided that you prove you need more time to successfully complete your business affair in the United States. To do this, you must acquire letters of confirmation from your employer or company that prove your stay in the US is essential for business.

Can B-1 visa holders get their family members to travel with them to the United States?

No, only the main applicant can go to the United States on a B 1. If you want to bring your family with you, they must apply for a tourism visa, to travel to the United States. With the tourist visa, your family can stay with you for up to six months and then ask for extensions for up to a year if needed.