Business Travel to the United States

  • October 12, 2014
  • Richard Newman

The visitor for business may apply for a B-1 visa from the American Embassy, or can use the visa waiver (ESTA) if used for legitimate business purposes. Although the procedures for applying for the B-1 visa stamp and for using visa waiver program are different, the general principles related to the visitor for business are the same. That is, the applicant must a) Have a residence in a foreign country, which they do not intend to abandon; (b) Intend to enter the United States for a period of specifically limited duration; and (c) Seek admission for the sole purpose of engaging in legitimate activities relating to business or pleasure.

Several permissible reasons exist for temporary business travel to the United States. Below is an overview of key groupings of temporary business related travel:

1) Conferences, meetings, trade shows, or attending a business events.  For scientific, educational, professional or business purposes. Will receive no salary or income from a US-based company/entity.

2) Lecturers or speakers. No salary or income from US based company, other than for expenses incidental to the visit.

3) Researchers. May come to the U.S. to conduct independent research. No salary/income from US source is permissible, and no benefit to US institution.

4) Sales/selling. Exhibitions/taking orders/negotiating and signing contracts for products that are produced outside the United States.

5) Service Engineers. Engineers are permitted to install, service or repair commercial or industrial equipment or machinery sold by a non-US company to a US buyer, when specifically required by the purchase contract.  Installation cannot include construction work, except for supervision or training of US workers to perform construction.

6) Training. May participate in a training program that is not designed primarily to provide employment for the traveler. Will receive no payment or income from a US based company, other than an expense allowance reimbursement related to traveler’s stay.

7) To establish a business, or seeking to invest in a business. May survey potential sites for a business and/or to lease premises in the United States. But cannot remain in the United States to manage the business in this visa category. (i.e. must apply for a different visa category that permits working in the U.S.)

8) Professional athletes.

A) Receive no salary or income from a US based company or entity other than prize money for participation in a tournament or sporting event.

B) Athletes or team members who seek to enter the United States as members of a foreign based team in order to compete with another sports team shall be admitted provided:
i) The foreign athlete and foreign sports team have their principal place of business or activity in a foreign country;
ii) The income of the foreign based team and the salary of its players are principally accrued in a foreign country; and
iii) The foreign-based sports team is a member of an international sports league or the sporting activities involved have an international dimension.

C) Try-outs for a professional team, but cannot remain in the U.S. to play on a US team in this visa category.

For more information, please contact:

Richard A. Newman
Attorney At Law