B-1 Visitor Visas

The vast majority of Canadians entering the United States for business purposes are B-1 permit holders. The B-1 visa is a very fast and relatively simple means of visiting the United States for business purposes.

A B-1 Business Visitor is required for Canadians wishing to enter the United States to conduct general business-like activities. The typical B-1 applicant comes to the U.S to:

  • attend business meetings
  • consult with associates
  • attend business conferences and conventions
  • negotiate contracts
  • investigate business opportunities
  • purchase property in the U.S

Pursuant to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), people with B-1 status may perform the following activities:

  • Research and design, including technical, scientific, and statistical research.
  • Growth, manufacturing, and production, including harvest owners supervising harvesting crews and purchasing and production management personnel conducting commercial transactions.
  • Marketing, including market researchers and analysts and trade fair and promotional personnel attending trade conventions.
  • Sales, including sales representatives and agents taking orders and negotiating contracts for goods or services, but not delivering goods or providing services; buyers purchasing for an enterprise located in Canada.
  • Distribution, including transportation operators delivering to, or loading and transporting from Canada or the United States, with no intermediate loading or delivery within the United States; customs brokers performing brokerage duties associated with the export of goods.
  • After-sales service, including installers, repair and maintenance personnel, and supervisors possessing specialized knowledge essential to the seller’s contractual obligation, performing services or training workers to perform such services pursuant to a warranty or other service contract incidental to the sale of commercial or industrial equipment or machinery, including computer software purchased from an enterprise located outside the country, during the life of the warranty or service agreement.

What activities are NOT permissible under B-1 status? The answer is not that clear. Basically, activities, which “engage the U.S. labor market” are not permitted, that is, you are not supposed to engage in productive activities, which are normally performed by U.S. workers.

B-1 status is Temporary It is important to note that like the TN Visa and L-1 Visa (Link), B-1 status is for a temporary period and the applicant is required to leave the United Status when the B-1 activity is completed.

How do you obtain a B-1? Canadian Citizens may obtain a B-1 at a U.S/Canadian port of entry. B-1 applicants may be advised to present the following documentation in support of their B-1 case:

  • Evidence of ties to Canada such as bank records
  • Evidence of close family relatives
  • Property deeds and any other documentation that shows that the applicant will return to Canada before or upon the expiry of B-1 status.
  • Documents showing that the applicant will be engaging in permissible B-1 activities.

The B-1 Visa is Suitable For:

  • Participants to attend scientific, educational, professional, business, or religious conventions

  • Persons to work on specific projects in the U.S. and paid by a foreign employer

  • Business professionals to participate in commercial transactions (which do not involve gainful employment) such as negotiating contracts and consulting with business associates

  • Persons to undertake independent studies such as feasibility studies, market research or any such activity

  • Persons to attend professional or business conferences, workshops, or seminars

  • Business professionals to explore possibilities to set up a subsidiary of a foreign corporation, or to make investments

  • Personal or domestic servants to come to the U.S. with a U.S. citizen or nonimmigrant employer on B, E, F, H, I, J, L, M, O, P, R, or TN status

  • Technical personnel to install or service equipment pursuant to a contract of sale, or to provide after sales service

  • Business professionals to attend meetings as a member of the Board of Directors of a U.S. corporation

  • Persons to observe business, professional, or vocational activity as long as it does not involve any hands-on activity

  • Professional athletes to compete for tournament money and not for a salary

  • Professionals to conduct business consultations with business associates in the U.S.

  • Purchasing agents of a foreign employer to come to the U.S. to procure goods, components, or raw materials for use outside the U.S.

  • Foreign business persons coming to the U.S. in conjunction with Litigation

  • Persons rendering professional services in the U.S. that would otherwise qualify them for an H-1B visa, but who are paid for those services by a source outside the U.S.

  • Persons employed outside the U.S. who are paid from abroad, and who come to the U.S. to undertake an established training program that would qualify them for an H-3 visa

  • Employees of foreign airlines who are engaged in productive employment in the U.S. and paid in the U.S. who are not eligible for E-1 treaty trader status

  • Other persons such as for bona fide religious missionaries and crew members on yachts

  • Special situations involving Canadians and Mexicans such as Canadian truck drivers who are paid by either Canadian or U.S. firms and who transport commodities across the Canadian Border

  • Foreign companies to send their personnel to the U.S. to install or service equipment pursuant to a contract of sale or to provide after sales service

  • U.S. companies to bring foreign business consultants for training or expert advice

  • U.S. universities to bring foreign guest speakers or lecturers