If a person requires a visa to visit the United States, as opposed to being able to enter on the Visa Waiver program, the most common visa he or she will seek is the B1/B2 visa. The B1 category is for business travel, with certain restrictions, and the B2 category is for pleasure. However, many misunderstand the scope of these visas and find themselves in trouble. If you fall into that trap, it can cause you immigration problems at a later instance.
You Cannot Run Your Business Under a Business Visa
Because B1/B2s are referred to as ‘business/pleasure’ visas, many who come to the U.S. for work-related reasons assume that they are able to do anything work-related under the visa and still have it be legal. This is not specifically the case.
While someone in the U.S. on a business visa may conduct work-related endeavors, such as attending conferences or interviewing and hiring potential staff, there are actions not legally permitted on such a visa, most notably any kind of “gainful employment.”
The rationale for such restrictions is that if one were allowed to work on a B1 visa, there would be less opportunity to appropriately register such workers due to the fact that B1/B2 visas are usually used for short trips to the U.S., rather than one long stint as done by people like F and J visa holders.
If a person receives a paid fee for speaking at a conference in the country, for example, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) may have the right to tax you, depending on the amounts and timing. However, if a B1/B2 holder does the same thing, then he or she might simply leave afterward, with no tax paid to the U.S. authorities.
Pleasure Trips Can Be Serious
Like with a B1 visa, a B2 visa comes with a list of activities which are permitted, while some are not. A B2 is a visitor visa, intended mostly for tourists. However, many others can use it without fear of running foul of immigration authorities—for example, those seeking medical treatment, performing at an amateur competition or show (without payment; paying gigs require a work visa), and visiting family or friends.
Like those applying for a business visa, B2 visa seekers must be able to prove their specific purpose in coming to the United States, strong ties to their home country, and ability to support themselves so they do not become a public charge. These criteria are taken seriously, and you may be asked for extra documents to prove your bona fides.
If you are found to have immigrant intent or to have lied or misstated on your application, it is plausible or even probable that you will be barred from returning to the U.S. for a minimum of 3 years.
Ask a Knowledgeable Attorney
While many travelers see B1/B2 visas as almost formalities, it is important to remember that like any other visa, they can be denied if it is suspected you will misuse them. If you have any questions about your entry into the U.S., or you have a loved one with potential issues, contacting an experienced attorney can help. The passionate Chicago immigration lawyers at Mevorah Law Offices LLC are happy to try and assist. Contact us today to set up a free consultation.
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