When people consider staying in the United States to perform business, they often envision a long, drawn-out visa process to do so. But while securing a visa can be a lengthy process for some, that’s often not the case for those working on temporary projects.
When you want to make a brief visit to the United States, you may be able to take advantage of the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) or qualify for a B-1 or B-2 visa, depending on the reason for your visit.
How the VWP works
Foreign nationals from at least 39 countries, including Chile, Australia, Italy, South Korea, the Netherlands, France, Germany and the United Kingdom, may qualify for the VWP provided that they have an Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA).
VWP candidates must generally have an e-passport that is valid for at least six months after the date of entry. Under the Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act of 2015, those who recently traveled to or maintain dual citizenship with certain high-risk nations, including Iraq, Iran, Syria or North Korea, likely will not qualify for the VWP.
Qualifying for a B-1 or B-2 visitor visa
Foreign nationals looking to temporarily come to the U.S. who don’t qualify for the VWP may be eligible for a visitor visa. The B-1 visa is a nonimmigrant visa that allows foreign nationals to visit temporarily for business, whereas the B-2 visa is for tourism.
B-1 visa applicants are often visiting for short-term business, such as to tend to an estate, attend a professional conference or meeting, or negotiate a contract. Meanwhile B-2 visas are often requested for medical treatment, visiting loved ones, attending events or tourism.
Those with a visitor visa are not allowed to study, obtain employment, or perform certain services for pay while in the United States. Even if you travel to the U.S. with a B-1 business visitor visa, the type of work you are allowed to perform may be restricted.
Foreign nationals that don’t need business visas
Citizens of Bermuda or Canada generally don’t have to apply for a visa to come to the U.S. on temporary business.
It can be a costly mistake if you attempt to come to the U.S. to conduct business, and you fail to apply for the right visa for your situation. One of the best things that you can do to avoid ending up on the wrong side of the law is to consult with a business immigration attorney here in New York, who will have the experience necessary to help you decide which visa is best for your unique situation.