The B-1 Visitor Visa (for Business) can be used for certain business activities in the US. It can be a very cost effective way to scout out business opportunites and to engage in very limited business activities. The B-1 is a temporary visa which requires you to stay only temporarily in the United States.
The B-1 should be distinguised from the B-2, which is the more common “Tourist Visa” — please don’t mistake the two. And if you’re on the Visa Waiver Program, you should always be careful to treat it as a tourist visa and not as a “business” visa.
The B-1 Visa strictly prohibits any sort of employment and/or working. That is very clear.
However, the B-1 does allow:
- negotiation of contracts
- consultation with business associates
- survey potential lease sites and/or lease premises for potential business (cannot stay to manage)
- participation in scientific, educational, professional or business conventions, conferences or seminars and other legitimate activities of a commercial or professional nature.
Again, it is important to emphasize that the above activities, even if permitted, can NOT be part of any employment. You should be be self-sufficient or be in the employ of a foreign company.
A very important point is that you should never be paid with funds from a US source while on a B-1 Visa. That is the fastest and surest way to violate the terms of the B-1 Visa. If you take orders for a parent company overseas while on a B-1, the parent company must pay you when you return to your country of origin.
Otherwise, a B-1 Visa is a good fast way to scout out business locations, do research, and talk to people in the US in anticipation of a larger venture.