Travel Visas

International visitors are welcomed in the USA as they are very beneficial to this country’s economy, cultural standing and prestige, educational development and many other aspects of life. As a general rule U.S. Government maintains open door policy regardless of the political party in power. At the same time, and especially so after the tragedy of September the 11th, 2001, national security has become paramount making striking the balance between the open door policy and national security into a constant daily struggle for this country, its Government and People.

B1 Visas - Unauthorized Employment v. Permissible Business Practices

Both the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) and federal regulations are univocal in prohibiting businesses operating in the United States from employing foreign nationals who lack an employment authorization (limited or open market) to work in the United States. The prohibition is based on the public policy of protecting the local workforce. However, businesses may associate with foreign nationals on B1 visas to conduct certain types of limited business activities in the United States, provided that they do not rise to employment for B1 business visitors.

B1 Visas for Medical Clerkships and Observing Business/Vocational Activities

In general, an individual may not use a B1 visitor for business visa to engage in a clerkship in the United States. However, there are two exceptions to this rule. One exception is for engaging in a medical clerkship within certain parameters, and the second exception is for observing business or other professional or vocational activities within certain parameters. In this article, we will examine both of these exceptions for engaging in clerkships on B1 status.

B1 Status: Overview of Covered Activities

In this article, we provide an overview of the different types of activities for which B1 status may be granted. In so doing, we will rely primarily on the guidance on the U.S. Department of State (DOS) Foreign Affairs Manual (FAM) at 9 FAM 402.2. The article will provide links to detailed articles on classes of activities covered by the B1 nonimmigrant classification.

B1 Status: Employment Incidental to Business Activities

The B1 visitor for business category is a travel visa for business visitors to the United States. Accordingly, it does not authorize an individual for employment. However, the Department of State (DOS) Foreign Affairs Manual (FAM) authorizes the issuance of B1 visas in certain limited cases where a business visitor may engage in employment incidental to business activities. In this article, we will detail those scenarios.

B1 Status: Personal Employees and Domestic Workers

The B1 nonimmigrant visitor visa category allows for the issuance of travel visas to certain business visitors. The U.S. Department of State’s (DOS’s) Foreign Affairs Manual (FAM) outlines circumstances in which B1 visas may be issued. In this article we will examine B1 status for personal and domestic assistants.

B1 Status: Certain Business Activities Classifiable as B1

The B1 nonimmigrant visitor category allows for certain business visitors to visit the United States. The U.S. Department of State’s (DOS’s) Foreign Affairs Manual (FAM) outlines the specific situations in which B1 status may be appropriate. In this article, we will examine situations in which B1 status may be granted for cases that may also be classifiable as A, E, H, F, L, or M.

B1 Status: Aliens Normally Classifiable as H1 or H3

The B1 nonimmigrant visa classification exists for certain visitors travelling to the United States for business. Situations in which a B1 visa is appropriate are outlined in the Department of State’s (DOS’s) Foreign Affairs Manual (FAM). In this article, we will use the FAM to examine situations in which an alien normally classifiable as an H1 or H3 nonimmigrant may instead be eligible for a B1 visa.

B1 Status: Artists and Entertainers

The B1 nonimmigrant visa category allows for business visitors to travel to the United States to engage in limited business activities as specified in the regulations and in the Department of State’s (DOS’s) Foreign Affairs Manual (FAM). In this article, we will explain the specific circumstances in which a B1 visa may be available for entertainers and artists.

Visiting the USA on Visa Waiver Program (VWP) and B2 visas

There are two general ways for a non-immigrant traveler to enter this country — on a valid visitor’s visa or under the auspices of the visa waiver program (VWP) the air travel pre-authorization for which is widely known as ESTA. VWP is only available for nationals of Canada as well as countries approved for the program.

Permissible Activities While on B2 Status

The B-2 (B2) visa is for temporary visitors for pleasure. There are limited activities that a B2 temporary visitor for pleasure may engage in lawfully. Employment and full-time education are categorically prohibited while on B2 status. In this article, we will assess statutes, regulations, agency guidance, and administrative decisions to explain what are permissible activities while on B2 status.

USCIS FAQ on Change of Status from B Visitor to F1/M1 Student

On April 5, 2017, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) published a document titled “Special Instructions for B-1/B-2 Visitors Who Want to Enroll in School.” The document, posted in question and answer format, addresses several questions of interest to B1 and B2 visitors who want to study in the United States. In this article, we will examine the questions and answers provided by the USCIS.

Extend Nonimmigrant Status in the United States

People in the United States on nonimmigrant visas are often eligible to apply for an extension of stay from the admitted-until date on their I-94 forms, where if approved by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), they will be allowed to stay in the United States for an extended period under a specific category.

Extension of Visa Waiver Program Stay in the U.S.

For those who are eligible, the Visa Waiver Program allows a stay in the United States for up to 90 days. Leaving prior to the 90 days has no detrimental effect on future travels to the United States. However if you overstay your allowed 90 days on the Visa Waiver Program, you may have a difficult time being allowed to re-enter the United States. In some instances, you may even have accrued unlawful presence and may be barred from entering the U.S. for a certain period of time.

Transit (C) Visa

A transit visa (C Visa) is a nonimmigrant visa issued to foreigners that will be traveling through the United States or have a very short term stay. It is important to note that a person who is granted a transit visa may not change his or her status to another nonimmigrant classification and in some cases cannot adjust status at all in the United States.

C2 Transit Visa for Authorized Travel to the United Nations

The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) authorizes the C2 nonimmigrant visa classification for aliens authorized to travel to the United Nations. In this article, we will examine who is eligible for C2 classification, the application process and rules for C2 classification, and special consideration for nonimmigrants classifiable as C2 who may also be classifiable as B1, B2, or I.

INA Sec. 214

(a) (1) The admission to the United States of any alien as a nonimmigrant shall be for such time and under such conditions as the Attorney General may by regulations prescribe, including when he deems necessary the giving of a bond with sufficient surety in such sum and containing such conditions as the Attorney General shall prescribe, to insure that at the expiration of such time or upon failure to maintain the status under which he was admitted, or to maintain any status subsequently acquired under section 248 , such alien will depart from the United States.

Retrieving a Form I-94

It is possible to obtain the most recent I-94 admission record from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection online. Most recent arrivals will not receive a physical Form I-94. This article will explain the uses of the Form I-94 and the process for retrieving a Form I-94 online.

When Self-Employment as an "Investor-Manager" Does Not Constitute "Unauthorized Employment"

The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) provides for stiff penalties for those who engage in unauthorized employment. For example, section 245(c) of the INA bars an individual who engaged in or is in engaging in unauthorized employment from being granted adjustment of immigration status. There are limited exceptions from this bar for certain employment-based adjustment of status applicants. An interesting question arises with regard to whether work by a non-immigrant visitor as an “investor-manager” constitutes “unauthorized employment.” In some cases, for purpose of the bar to adjustment of status in section 245(c)(2) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) or for deportability for unauthorized employment, the answer may be no. In this article, we will examine two very important decisions addressing this question. We will examine the facts and procedural history of these cases, the analyses and decisions of the Board and the Ninth Circuit, and the effect of the precedents set by these decisions on non-immigrant investor-managers in the United States.

Identification Documents Accepted For Domestic Flights

In order to be permitted to board a plane to travel internationally, an individual must have a valid passport and permission to enter the country to which he or she intends to travel in order. However, in order to travel by air domestically within the United States, an individual may rely on a variety of government-issued identity documents in order to pass Transportation Security Agency (TSA) checkpoints. These identification requirements apply to adults aged 18 years or older. It is important to note that the domestic identification requirements are not applicable to international flights.

Interview Waivers Expanded for Israeli Citizens Looking to Renew Tourist Visas

The U.S. Embassy in Israel now lists cases on its website in which an Israeli citizen seeking to renew his or her B1 or B2 visa may do so without having a visa interview. We review the new rules in this post.

USCIS Updates Policy Manual to Address DOS 90-Day Rule for Presumption of Misrepresentation

On March 28, 2018, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) made a technical update to its Policy Manual (PM) to reflect the U.S. Department of State’s (DOS’s) decision to replace its former “30/60-day rule” with a new “90-day rule.” The update is found at 8 USCIS-PM J.3—Adjudicating Inadmissibility. In this article, we will briefly examine the updated section relating to the new 90-day rule. To learn about the 90-day rule in detail, including links to related articles, please see our comprehensive article on the subject.

Reduction of B2 Visa Validity for Cuban Nationals

The U.S. Department of State reduced the visa validity of B2 visas for Cuban nationals to three months with a single entry, effective March 18, 2019. This is a significant reduction from prior policy under which Cuban nationals could obtain five-year multiple entry B2 visas.

DHS Ends CNMI-Guam Parole Program for Russian Nationals

On September 3, 2019, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) published a notice in the Federal Register (FR) titled “Rescission of Discretionary Parole Policies Relating to Nationals of the Russian Federation Seeking Entry Into Guam and/or the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands for a Temporary Visit for Business or Pleasure.” The DHS is providing notice that effective October 3, 2019, it is ending a special parole program for nationals of the Russian Federation to enter Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) for 45 days without a visa.

B1 Visitors at Trade Shows or Conventions

The U.S Customs and Border Protection (CBP) recently addressed a common question on its website regarding the scope of permissible activities for a B1 visitor for business attending a trade show or conference. We examine the CBP's answer and additional materials on the issue in this article.

Understanding Permissible B1 Business Activities Through Matter of Hira

In 1965 and 1966, the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) entered two decisions in the Matter of Hira. The Board held that an alien who entered the United States as a B1 visitor for business and took the measurements of and orders from customers on behalf of his employer in Hong Kong did not, based on the facts and circumstances, render himself ineligible for B1 classification. The Board’s decision in Matter of Hira was affirmed in full by then-Attorney General Nicholas Katzenbach on September 30, 1966. Matter of Hira is an influential decision in the context of what constitutes permissible business activities for B1 visitors for business, serving as the basis for the U.S. Department of State’s (DOS’s) guidance to consular officers in its Foreign Affairs Manual (FAM).