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B1 Visa: Reasonable Business Activities

What business activities are allowed for B1 visa holders?

The definition of business under immigration law is rather limited. Generally speaking, a B-1 visa holder is not permitted to work, receive payment from a US source (other than reimbursement for certain expenses), or run a business.

A B1 visa holder may:

  • Negotiate contracts
  • Consult with business partners
  • Attend trade shows
  • Participate in scientific or business conventions
  • Solve litigation related issues
  • Interview candidates
  • Hold meetings with suppliers and customers
  • Showcase samples and solicit sales

What is "B1 In Lieu of H1?"

B1 in lieu of H1 is referring to a special provision that a B1 or B1/B2 visa holder may be allowed to perform limited, short-term H-1B work in the U.S., if they meet certain requirements:

  • The worker must not receive salary or any form of compensation from a U.S. source, other than reimbursement of costs such as travel, housing and food.
  • The work to be performed must be H1B-caliber.
  • The task can be accomplished in a short period of time.
  • The individual holds the equivalent of a U.S. bachelor's degree.

A person approved for B1 in Lieu of H1 would still be admitted as a B1 visitor, so any criteria governing B1/B2 visas still apply, including the need to demonstrate strong ties to their home country and clear intention to depart the U.S. on time.

Note that B1 in Lieu of H1 has always been somewhat controversial, or "muddy" if you will. Many consulates choose not to issue "B1 in Lieu of H1" and there have been conflicting reports on how USCIS officials would treat such annotations at the POE.