Can We Work on B1/B2 Visa in the USA?

Can We Work on B1/B2 Visa in the USA?

The United States is a popular destination for many travelers who want to visit for business or tourism purposes.

However, not everyone can work legally in the US with a B1/B2 visa, which is a type of nonimmigrant visa that allows temporary entry for specific activities.

Image of B1/B2 Visa
B1/B2 Visa Photo courtesy | Getty Image

 

In this article, we will answer some common questions about the B1/B2 visa and its work restrictions.

What is a B1/B2 visa?

A B1/B2 visa is a combination of two visas: the B1 visa for business visitors and the B2 visa for tourists.

The B1 visa allows you to enter the US for business activities such as attending meetings, conferences, seminars, trade shows, or negotiations.

The B2 visa allows you to enter the US for tourism, recreation, visiting friends or relatives, or medical treatment.

You can apply for both visas together if you have a mixed purpose of travel.

How long can you stay in the US with a B1/B2 visa?

The validity period of a B1/B2 visa ranges from 1 month to 10 years, depending on the reciprocity agreement between the US and your country of origin.

This means that you can use the same visa to enter the US multiple times within that period.

However, the validity period does not determine how long you can stay in the US each time you enter.

The duration of your stay is determined by the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer at the port of entry, who will stamp your passport with an admission date and an expiration date.

The expiration date is usually 6 months from the date of entry, but it can be shorter or longer depending on your circumstances.

You can check your expiration date on your Form I-94, Arrival-Departure Record, which you can access online1.

Can you work in the US with a B1/B2 visa?

The short answer is no, you cannot work in the US with a B1/B2 visa.

Working in the US means performing any service or labor for an employer or a business entity in exchange for compensation or other benefits.

This includes both paid and unpaid work, as well as self-employment or freelance work.

If you work in the US with a B1/B2 visa, you are violating the terms and conditions of your visa and risking deportation or future visa denials.

However, there are some exceptions and gray areas when it comes to working in the US with a B1/B2 visa.

For example, you may be allowed to:

  • Engage in certain business activities that are incidental to your foreign employment, such as consulting with business associates, negotiating contracts, attending training sessions, or conducting market research.
  • Participate in certain professional or academic activities that are not considered employment, such as attending lectures, seminars, workshops, conferences, or symposiums.
  • Receive an honorarium payment and associated incidental expenses for usual academic activities (such as lecturing or teaching) for a period not exceeding 9 days at any single institution and not more than 5 institutions within 6 months.
  • Perform certain services for a foreign employer that benefit an international organization (such as the United Nations or the World Bank) under specific conditions.
  • Perform certain services for a foreign employer that are related to an international trade agreement (such as NAFTA or GATS) under specific conditions.

These exceptions are subject to interpretation and discretion by the CBP officers and the Department of State consular officers.

Therefore, it is advisable to consult with an immigration attorney before engaging in any activity that may be considered work in the US with a B1/B2 visa.

Can you change your status from B1/B2 to another visa?

If you want to work in the US legally, you may need to change your status from B1/B2 to another type of nonimmigrant visa that allows employment authorization, such as:

  1. H-1B (specialty occupation),
  2. L-1 (intracompany transferee),
  3. O-1 (extraordinary ability), or
  4. TN (NAFTA professional).

To do so, you must meet the eligibility criteria and follow the application process for the new visa category.

You must also file Form I-5392, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status, with USCIS before your current status expires.

You cannot start working until your change of status is approved and you receive your new visa.

However, changing your status from B1/B2 to another visa is not always possible or advisable.

Some factors that may affect your ability or desirability to change your status include:

  • Your original purpose and intent of travel: If you entered the US with a B1/B2 visa with a preconceived intention to work or immigrate, you may be accused of fraud or misrepresentation by USCIS or DOS.
  • Your timing and duration of stay: If you apply for a change of status too soon or too late after entering the US with a B1/B2 visa, you may raise suspicion or face delays by USCIS or DOS.
  • Your eligibility and availability of the new visa: If you do not qualify for the new visa category or if the visa is subject to annual caps or quotas, you may not be able to obtain the new visa.
  • Your plans and options: If you change your status from B1/B2 to another visa, you may lose the flexibility and convenience of traveling to and from the US with a multiple-entry visa. You may also face difficulties or complications if you want to apply for a green card or a different visa in the future.

Therefore, it is advisable to consult with an immigration attorney before deciding to change your status from B1/B2 to another visa.

Conclusion

The B1/B2 visa is a great option for travelers who want to visit the US for business or tourism purposes.

However, it does not allow you to work in the US legally unless you fall under some specific exceptions.

If you want to work in the US, you may need to change your status to another visa that allows employment authorization, but this may not be easy or advisable in some cases.

Therefore, it is important to plan and consult with an immigration attorney before engaging in any activity that may be considered work in the US with a B1/B2 visa.

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