Are You Working on a B-1 Business Visa (and Don't Know It)?

Many people travel to the U.S. on B-1 visas for business reasons. They come for conferences, trainings, to meet with U.S.-based customers, or to negotiate business deals. All of these activities are legitimate and allowed under the B-1 visa.

However, in this new era of start-up companies, many foreign nationals come to the U.S. on B-1 visas to start their businesses. Some entrepreneurial activities are permitted under the B-1 visa, and some are not.

Many entrepreneurs believe that as long as they don't get paid, they can work at their new company, but this is not true. Although being paid a salary is an important part of USCIS's definition of "work," it is not conclusive. Work can be anything that would look like employment to an outsider. For example, USCIS might consider writing basic software code that supports a business's application "product" to be work, because this is something the business could hire an employee to do. The activities an entrepreneur does here in the U.S must be incidental to the work the individual does abroad.

Working without authorization is a serious issue and can cause significant problems in a subsequent immigration application.

To see the USCIS's guide on permissible B-1 visa activities, go to:

For a better understanding of whether your activities are permissible under the B-1 visa, contact us at