Temporary Visitors for Business or Tourism
There are four primary categories for temporary visitors:
B-1 for Business
B-2 for Pleasure (Tourist)
WB Waiver for Business
WT Waiver for Pleasure
The "temporary visitor" status is a non-immigrant classification for persons desiring to enter the U.S. temporarily for business (B-1) or for pleasure or medical treatment (B-2).
How to Apply
A letter of invitation from the host institution to be presented to the U.S. officials should only include statements about the applicant that the person signing the letter can verify.
An invitation should include:
Name, dates, location, and purpose of visit
Name, date of birth, and passport number of the visitor
Information on how transportation and local expenses are to be funded
Information on the organization sponsoring the visit or meeting and relationship to the visitor
Name, title, contact information (phone, fax, e-mail, web site) of person responsible for the visit or meeting, in case the consular office has further questions.
The individual must be able to show:
- That they have a residence abroad to which they intend to return
- That they intend to remain in the U.S. only for a specified limited period o time solely to participate in legitimate activities of B or visa waiver visitors (a non-refundable round-trip ticket or other confirmation is good documentation)
- Personal funding to support him/herself for the duration of his/her stay in the U.S.
If they will receive any kind of reimbursement for expenses incidental to the temporary stay, the invitation letter should include language from the Foreign Affairs Manual of Citations [9 FAM 41.31 N8] as follows:
Aliens should be classified B-1 visitors for business, if otherwise eligible, if they are traveling to the United States to:
- Engage in commercial transactions, which do not involve gainful employment in the United States (such as a merchant who takes orders for goods manufactured abroad)
- Negotiate contracts
- Consult with business associates
- Participate in scientific, educational, professional, or business conventions, conferences, or seminars
- Undertake independent research
Incidental Expenses or Remuneration
[9 FAM 41.31 N11.1] A nonimmigrant in B-1 status may not receive a salary from a U.S. source for services rendered in connection with his or her activities in the United States. A U.S. source, however, may provide the alien with an expense allowance or reimbursement for expenses incidental to the temporary stay. Incidental expenses may not exceed the actual reasonable expenses the alien will incur in traveling to and from the event, together with living expenses the alien reasonably can be expected to incur for meals, lodging, laundry, and other basic services.
[9 FAM 41.31 N11.2] ...a B-1 nonimmigrant may accept an honorarium payment and associated incidental expenses for usual academic activities (which can include lecturing, guest teaching, or performing in an academic sponsored festival) if:
- The activities last no longer than nine days at any single institution or organization;
- Payment is offered by an institution or organization described in INA 212(p) [includes institutions of higher education]
- The honorarium is for services conducted for the benefit of the institution or entity; and
- The alien has not accepted such payments or expenses from more than five institutions or organizations over the last six months
USCIS has not yet issued regulations to implement this law. USCIS has acknowledged in a memorandum to its field staff, however, that the law is in force and has instructed USCIS inspectors to admit visiting international scholars who meet the conditions set out in the law without new restrictions or documentary requirements.
Scholars arriving in the U.S. in B-1, B-2 or visa waiver status should have with them letters from the institutions that will be providing them with honoraria. The letters should note the services to be provided and the honoraria and travel reimbursements offered. International scholars should be informed in advance of the limitations of the B-1/B-2/visa waiver honoraria rule and cautioned to be careful not to exceed those limitations.
For more information on honoraria and reimbursement, please click here.