Do I Need to Apply for a US Business Visa?
If you are a citizen of one of the countries in the Visa Waiver Program, you will not need to apply for a `US business visa. Instead, you could apply an Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA). With the ESTA program, you will not have to go to the US Embassy in person and you will get a US business visa much faster.
This tool will help you determine if you need to apply for a B1 visa:
What is the reason for your trip to the United States?*
- Visit family members
- Medical treatment
- Attend an event or conference
- Participate in business meetings
- Negotiating business offers
What are the eligibility criteria for obtaining a B1 visa?
The eligibility criteria for US business visa are not as strict as other visas, but you must meet them to qualify. Here are the criteria you need to meet to get a B1 visa:
• That your intention to visit the United States is related to business.
• You have enough money to cover your stay in the United States.
• You intend to return to your home country once your visa expires and you do not intend to remain in the United States.
If you meet these criteria and can demonstrate your eligibility through valid documents at the application stage, you will be able to apply for and obtain a B1 visa.
Steps to Apply for a US Business Visa
To apply for a B1 visa, you need to go through these simple steps:
- Complete Form DS-160.
- Pay the B1 visa fees.
- Schedule your visa interview.
- Prepare a set of B1 visa documents.
- Attend an interview.
Complete Form DS-160
Form DS-160, Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application is used to apply for a business visa as with most US nonimmigrant visa applications. It requires your basic information and details as well as the purpose of your visit. You will need to find the section that is tailored for the B1 visa and fill it out. After submitting the form online, you will receive a confirmation page and a number that you will need to process your application later.
You can complete Form DS-160 online through:
- Consular electronic application center, or
- With help from an assistant for visa processing.
Pay for the B1 visa
The application fee for a B1 visa is USD 160. You must pay this fee to proceed with your application. In addition to the application fee, you may have to pay other fees, such as visa issuance fees. The amount of visa fees depends on your home country’s relationship with the US. After paying all the fees, make sure you save the receipts to attach them to your documents.
Schedule your visa interview
All visa applicants aged 14 to 79 must undergo a guest visa interview. Interviews are held at the US Embassy where you are applying and are conducted by an officer. United States embassies usually have a high workload, so you need to make sure you schedule your interview as soon as possible. This will avoid long waiting times and complete the application process faster. In that case, you can call your embassy to schedule an interview and then receive an interview confirmation. You must bring this letter on the day of the interview.
Prepare a set of B1 visa documents
You must provide the documents normally required for business visa applications to support your application. Your B1 visa application must include the following additional documents:
- Form DS-160 confirmation page and code.
- Your valid passport. You must possess a passport that is valid for six months after your planned stay in the US.
- Details of your social media accounts.
- Interview confirmation page.
- A photo that meets US business visa photo requirements.
- A letter outlining the reason for your journey.
- Financial or bank statements proving that you have the finances to stay in the US.
- Ties to your home country such as family, work contract, lease, or title deed that prove you will return.
- Criminal record or letters from the authorities stating that you have no previous convictions.
- If you have already visited the US, bring documents related to your previous visits.
- If you are working, bring a letter from your employer and payslips for the last three months.
- A letter from the employer outlining the objective of the trip as well as your work title.
Join the conversation
On the day of the interview, bring a folder with documents and be prepared to answer the interviewer’s questions. You will be asked about your origin, the purpose of your visit, what business you will be doing in the United States, and whether you intend to return. Please be specific and give details about what you plan to do in the United States.
How long does it take to process a B1 visa?
B1 visa processing time is not exact. Visa processing time might range from weeks to months. This depends on the US Embassy’s workload and other factors they take into account. After the processing time, you will be informed whether you have received the visa or not.
How long is the B1 visa valid?
The B1 visa has a 6-month initial validity period. The US Embassy assumes that within 6 months you will be able to complete all the business you have in the country. This period is also enough time to visit and travel all the places in the United States that you want.
B1 visa extension
After 6 months, you are expected to return to your home country and not remain in the United States beyond the visa expiration date. However, if you want to extend your B1 visa, you must work with your employer to do so. You must prove that you have not completed all the activities that you need to complete with the B1 visa. You must also obtain confirmation from your employer or company that your stay in the US is necessary for business.
However, remember that you are not allowed to work for a US company and earn income, so you must also demonstrate financial stability and that you have enough money to stay in the United States.
Can I get a green card as a B1 visa holder?
To qualify for a B1 visa, you must demonstrate that you will return to your home country. This means that you cannot plan to stay in the US permanently. Because you have to document it and state it at the interview, it is then very difficult to get a green card for a B1 visa. To be eligible for permanent residence on a B1 visa, you must either:
- Have relatives in the United States and apply to join them.
- Marry a US citizen with a valid marriage and then apply for permanent residency.
- Find a job in the US where an employer is willing to sponsor your visa, such as an H-1B visa, and then apply for a green card.
However, since the B1 visa is a business visit visa, if you find a job in the US, you will not be able to work for a company in your home country. This means that you will have to go through complex procedures to change your status and prove that you did not intend to find work in the US, but that an unexpected opportunity presented itself to you.
Will I be able to access US health care with a business visa?
As a foreigner visiting the United States for tourist purposes, you do not receive free health care. American healthcare is the most expensive in the world, treating a broken leg or arm will cost you $2,500, while a one-night stay in an American hospital can cost over $10,000 on average.
Can business visa holders bring dependents to the US?
Unfortunately, as the B1 visa is an individual temporary visa, it does not have dependent visas. This means that your spouse, children, or other family members cannot join you in the United States if you are the only B1 visa holder. They must apply for a B2 visa or US tourist visa to join you. With this visa they will be able to come and stay with you for 6 months and then apply for an extension of up to 1 year if needed.
Whether or not your family members get a visa does not depend on the fact that you have a B1 visa. Each application is assessed individually, so there must always be proof of financial stability and that you plan to return home.