Business Visa Center- Frequently Asked Questions
What is business related (B-1) visitor visa travel?
Business Travel to the United States - What Type of U.S. Visa Will You Need (PDF)?
How long has the Business Visa Center been in operation?
Should I send any application materials to the Business Visa Center?
How has the Business Visa Center changed the way visas are processed?
My company is located overseas. Who can assist me?
I want to work or be employed in the U.S. (H, L, O, P, or TN visa) or need a treaty trader/investor (E) visa. Where can I find information?
I want to apply for an immigrant visa to come to the U.S. to live permanently. Where can I find information?
How early in advance should our business travelers apply?
Our business travelers were given interview appointment dates after the conference or date they need to travel. What can I do to request an earlier date?
How do I apply for a business, B-1 visitor visa?
Do I need a visa if I have an APEC Business Travelers Card (ABTC)?
How can I use my ABTC when I apply for my visa?
Some of our business travelers were denied visas. What can we do?
Our business travelers have applied at the U.S. Embassy and the applications are pending a security clearance. Can the BVC help expedite the clearance process?
If our business travelers qualify under VWP, can the BVC assist?
I am a conference or event organizer. How can I submit my event information?
What benefit is there for my conference to be listed?
Can I receive a copy of the master conference list?
Generally, the travel appropriate for a business (B-1) visitor visa includes travel these examples of travel to:
- Consult with business associates;
- Attend a scientific, educational, professional or business convention, or a conference on specific dates;
- Settle an estate;
- Negotiate a contract;
- Participate in short-term training.
To learn more about allowable travel using a B-1 visa, review our business visa chart. Select visitor visa to learn more about the application requirements. This is not an all-inclusive list of allowable business related B-1 visitor visa activities. Select visitor visa to learn more about the application requirements. If a visa applicant has specific questions about qualifications for a visa, contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where he/she will apply for the visa.
The Business Visa Center program assists businesses and organizations located in the United States by providing information to U.S. companies about the application process for visitor visas (B-1) for those seeking to travel to the U.S. for business purposes.
The Department of State announced the worldwide Business Visa Center on July 15, 2005. We received an overwhelmingly positive response from U.S. businesses about the predecessor to the Business Visa Center, the U.S.-China Business Initiative. That input led to our decision to expand the initiative in order to assist businesses in the U.S.
Definitely not. Neither businesses nor applicants should send any materials to the Business Visa Center, unless you are specifically asked to do so. Application processing still takes place at U.S. Embassies and Consulates abroad, and all applicants will need to bring the visa application, DS-156 and supporting documentation with them to the interview.
The Business Visa Center (BVC) has not changed the steps in the visa process in any way. The BVC is an information portal for U.S. based businesses. U.S. Embassies overseas continue to have the responsibility under immigration law for the acceptance and processing of visa applications, and decisions about issuance of visas for foreign citizens to travel to the U.S. As examples, a visa applicant must still apply (or if desired, reapply, if denied), at a U.S. Embassy overseas and follow the visa application procedures.
U.S. Embassies and Consulates worldwide have programs to assist businesses. The U.S. Embassy or Consulate where the visa applicant will be applying is in the best position to provide information about any program they may have to assist businesses in their location, since they handle visa application, processing and issuance. We encourage companies located overseas to get in touch with the embassy or consulate through the Commercial Section in their country. For more information, select Locate a U.S. Embassy.
If you are seeking to come to the U.S. for employment as a temporary worker in the U.S. (H, L, O, P, and Q visas), your prospective employer must file a petition with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), USCIS. This petition must be approved by USCIS before you can apply for a visa. Select temporary workers to visit the USCIS website and learn more about requirements. Select temporary worker visas to go to the Department of State website and learn more, and review information about NAFTA workers (TN visa) and treaty traders/investors (E visas). For questions related to petition approval, you may contact USCIS at 1-800-375-5283. For visa-related questions, contact the embassy in the country of application or contact the Public Inquiries office at Visa Services, Department of State at 202-663-1225.
In general, in order to be eligible to apply for an immigrant visa, a foreign citizen must be sponsored by a U.S. citizen relative(s) or by a prospective employer. There is a two-step process to become a legal immigrant, in the allowable immigrant categories provided by immigration law. First, before you can apply for a visa, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), USCIS must approve an immigrant visa petition that your relative in the U.S. or prospective employer has filed. After the petition is approved by DHS USCIS, you will complete the immigrant visa application and other forms and be notified to go to the local U.S. Embassy or Consulate to complete the processing for an immigrant visa. Select USCIS Website to learn more about requirements. Select immigrant visas to go to the Department of State website and learn more. For questions related to petition approval, you may contact USCIS at 1-800-375-5283. For visa related questions, contact the embassy in the country of application or contact the Public Inquiries office at Visa Services, Department of State at 202-663-1225.
As a general planning guideline, if a visa is needed, a foreign traveler should apply for his or her visa as soon as possible, and no later than 60 days before the travel date. If the conference is scientific in nature, or the applicant has a scientific background, the visa application should be made no later than 90 days in advance of the travel. Visa applicants will need to schedule an interview appointment as a first step in the visa process. Select visa wait times to see how long it will take to schedule an interview appointment at each U.S. Embassy and Consulate abroad. Since wait times vary by embassy and time of year, we strongly encourage travelers to review this information, as it is updated weekly. Please note: Additional planning time beyond the guidelines above is needed for visa applicants applying at some embassies, due to the time required to schedule an interview appointment. Additionally, the interview wait times do not include time for required security clearances or administrative processing, which take place after the interview and may extend beyond the general timeframe guidelines.
If the interview appointment date provided is not early enough for the visa applicant’s intended travel, applicants have the
option of contacting the U.S. Embassy or Consulate to request an expedited appointment. The applicant should check the embassy
website for the "how to" procedures for requesting an expedited appointment. (Some embassies may use slightly different wording,
such as how to request urgent or emergency travel, as examples.) We recommend that all requests for expedited appointments
note the date when the applicant actually needs to travel and provide contact information (local telephone number) for the
applicant. It should be noted that the decision by the embassy to expedite an interview appointment is discretionary and depends
on several factors, including the urgency of the travel and the U.S. national interests involved. The embassy or consulate
will review the requests and grant expedited interview appointments to applicants within the constraints of their workload.
Any expedite request should clearly explain why it is important (that is, explain what is at stake) to expedite the case.
If after searching the website or contacting a post directly you are unable to find information on requesting an expedited appointment at the embassy, the Business Visa Center can work with the embassy or consulate to get the information to you.
For specific application requirements select visitor visa to learn more.
Yes, you will still need a visa to travel to the United States unless you qualify for the Visa Waiver Program. Travelers are advised that possession of the ABTC will not change visa requirements, your visa status, or the visa process for travel to the U.S.
You will still need to be interviewed, since U.S. law requires visa interviews in most cases and having the Asian-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Business Travelers Card (ABTC) does not exempt travelers from this requirement. Holders of the ABTC will be eligible to participate in the U.S. Embassy or Consulate business facilitation programs, which offer expedited visa interview appointments. Check the U.S. Embassy website where you will apply for instructions on how to request an expedited interview appointment. Embassy websites can be accessed through our www.travel.state.gov website.
Sole authority for issuance (and refusal) of visas lies with consular officers at U.S. embassies and consulates abroad. The BVC has no authority to override these decisions. In some special circumstances, when the BVC is contacted, additional information may surface which is subsequently provided to the embassy for consideration upon the applicant’s reapplication. Generally, if there is ample time between the refusal and the business event in the U.S., the applicant is welcome to reapply if he or she can present new evidence to overcome the previous grounds of refusal.
The BVC cannot expedite or waive security clearance processing. However, for business-related travelers, if there appears to be an unusual delay in normal processing beyond a month, or if the travel date is looming, in certain circumstances the BVC can work with the relevant offices regarding the status. Additionally, for inquiries about the status of a case pending a security clearance, applicants or business representatives in the U.S. can contact the public line (202-663-1225) to speak with a Visa Specialist.
Yes. For Visa Waiver Program business travelers, the Business Visa Center can assist with visa information. Select Visa Waiver Program to learn more about the VWP requirements.
If you are a conference organizer or sponsor of a conference or event located in the U.S. and the conference will be held here in the U.S., please contact the email address: email@example.com, sending the following information:
- Date(s) when conference or event is to be held;
- Title/name of conference or event;
- Brief description of the conference, including purpose and sponsorship;
- Location of the conference or event;
- Expected international attendance (100 visa applicants minimum to post an event), and the total number of expected attendees;
- Point of contact (at conference/event organizer): Organization website (if available), contact name, title, address, telephone number and email address, in case the embassy has questions about your announcement.
Providing conference information and a participant list for large conferences does not waive or expedite any visa procedures. It is simply an internal communications tool with our U.S. Embassies and Consulate worldwide to let them know we have been contacted by the U.S. company, notifying us the conference or event is taking place in the U.S.
The Department of State’s Intranet Listing of Upcoming Conferences in the U.S. is for internal communication purposes only.
This list is not available to the public and is strictly for State Department use.