VISA PROCESSES

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B-1 Business Visitor

The B-1 visa is for a person employed abroad to come to the U.S. temporarily on business to attend business meetings or trade shows, buy goods, conduct research, and so forth. A foreign national may be admitted for a period of a few weeks up to six months. Extension for an additional six months may be possible depending on the reason for the request. The B-1 visa holder may take no compensation directly or indirectly from a U.S. company. If a U.S. company employs a B-1 visa holder, the company may be committing an I-9 violation and the visa holder may be deportable. The B-1 visa holder may be admitted to install, service, or repair imported equipment, provided the sales contract so states.

  • Visa Waiver Program

    The Visa Waiver Program (VWP) allows citizens from 38 participating countries to travel to the U.S. for tourism or business without first obtaining a visa stamp. With a valid passport from a participating country, an individual may come to the U.S., using only certain airlines, for up to 90 days. Among the participating countries in the VWP are Japan, Australia, France, Germany, and the United Kingdom. VWP travelers who overstay, even by a day, may be refused admission to the U.S. on subsequent trips.

    Generally, extensions or applications for change of status to another nonimmigrant visa classification or an immigrant visa category are not permitted.

    After admission in certain circumstances, a VWP holder can marry a U.S. citizen and apply for adjustment of status, but may be accused of entry fraud. For such cases, expert legal counsel is highly recommended.

  • ESTA System for Visa Waiver Program Travelers

    The Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) has implemented the Electronic System Travel Authorization (“ESTA”) for the Visa Waiver Program (“VWP”). Applications are submitted online at www.cbp.gov/travel/international-visitors/esta.

    ESTA is a web-based program in which all citizens of VWP countries, including children, regardless of age, are required to receive an electronic travel authorization prior to boarding a U.S. bound carrier. ESTA approval only authorizes a VWP traveler to board the plane or ship; U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers determine admissibility upon entry to the U.S.
    Note: the ESTA is not a visa. People traveling with valid visas are not be required to apply for an ESTA.

    ESTA applications should be submitted no less than 72 hours prior to travel. Specific travel plans are not required to complete the ESTA, but the VWP traveler must provide data including name, birth date, and passport information as well as answer eligibility questions regarding arrests, convictions, communicable diseases, past history of visa revocation, deportation, etc.
    In most cases, ESTA will provide an almost immediate response of “Authorization Approved,” “Authorization Pending,” or “Authorization Denied.” Applications that are approved will be valid for a period of two years or until the applicant’s passport expires, whichever comes first. Pending applications will receive a final response within 72 hours. Those who are denied will be referred to the consul to apply for a visa. Travelers that have not received ESTA approval may be denied boarding, experience delays or be denied admission to the U.S.

    For additional information about the ESTA program see: www.cbp.gov/travel/international-visitors/visa-waiver-program.

    The Visa Waiver Program countries include: Andorra, Austria, Australia, Belgium, Brunei, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Monaco, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.