Limited activities of a business visa holder

JOSHUA had traveled to the United States several times on a B1 business visa. He has been assigned by his company to service their clients’ computer hardware in California.

In one of his trips, the Custom and Border Protection (CBP) officer asked him about his activities. He mentioned that he was receiving income from their client, a US company. At that moment he was put on secondary inspection and eventually sent back to the Philippines. Joshua was told to obtain the correct working visa before returning to the United States.


A B1 business visa is usually issued together with a B2 visitor visa. When applicant for a visa wants to enter the US for pleasure, he will be authorized to enter as a B2 visitor.

When traveling to the US, a CBP officer will ask the traveler about the purpose of the visit and if the traveler’s response is to attend to a business meeting, he will be given a period of stay commensurate to the period of time required to complete the business activity.


Unlike the visitor’s visa, the business visitor usually has shorter period of authorized stay.

Allowable activities

The Department of State has issued guidance on what the limited activities are allowed for the B1 visa holders.  Keep in mind that business visa holders should not engage in any type of work no matter how short the time of employment is.

The allowable business activities include attending meetings or business events; being a speaker or a lecturer or attending training programs.

Athletes or members of a sports team may enter on a B1 visa to compete with another US sports teams.

In all these enumerated activities, it must be clear that the B1 business visitor may not receive salary or compensation from any US-based business or organization.

Nature of a business visa


In the case of Joshua, he was not put on expedited removal. What he was allowed to do by the CBP officer is for him to withdraw his application for admission and depart immediately.

This may be referred to as “airport to airport” but with the withdrawal of admission there are no bars to re-entering the US with the correct visa.

The only difficulty with an individual who withdrew his application for admission is that this record of withdrawal will be listed as part of his record. When he applies for the appropriate working visa, the matter regarding the withdrawal will be revisited and may affect issuance of new visa.

If the consular officer discovers there was a prior misrepresentation at the time of the application for business visa, there will likely be a denial of a future visa application.

To avoid the trouble of a secondary inspection and eventually a withdrawal of admission at the port of entry, the B1 business visa holder must be aware of the nature of the business visa and be familiar with the prohibited work related activities.

(Atty. Lourdes Santos Tancinco may be reached at [email protected]
cinco.com or at [02] 721-1963,  www.tancinco.com or through facebook.com/tancincolaw)

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