B-1 Business and Visa Waiver Program

B-1/B-2 Status Overview

The B-1/B-2 visa allows visitors to enter the United States as non-immigrants for up to six months for business or pleasure, with the possibility to extend the status for an additional six months.

Visitors entering in this status cannot engage in employment in the U.S. nor enroll in an academic study program. The U.S. Department of State expressly indicates that the B-1 may be used for "independent" research.

Visitors in this status are permitted to change to another non-immigrant classification, provided they had no preconceived intent to do this prior to their entry in B status (or, if so, disclosed this intent to U.S. officials prior to their entry in B status).

  • B-1 status (Visitor for Business)
    An international visitor entering in B-1 status holds a permanent residence in a foreign country that he/she has no intention of abandoning, and who is visiting the U.S. temporarily for business. Examples of appropriate uses for the B-1 visa include:
    • An individual coming for a conference or seminar;
    • An individual coming for an interview;
    • An individual coming to negotiate a contract;
    • An individual coming to participate in a short-term training program (excluding internships or activities that provide students with credits, benefit their program of study in any way or are a requirement by their home institution);
    • A scholar who will spend his/her leave at UC Santa Cruz conducting independent research (no direct benefit to UCSC), and will receive no payment from UCSC.

    These must all be short-term, non-salaried academic activities. 

    The department's letter of invitation should indicate the types of activity that will be pursued, and these activities should correspond to those indicated as acceptable for the B-1 classification by the U.S. Dept. of State (see http://travel.state.gov/pdf/BusinessVisa.pdf).

    If activities do not conform to the B-1 classification U.S. Dept. of State may require a different visa, such as a J-1 Exchange Visitor visa.  If a J-1 visa is more appropriate the host department will need to go through the J-1 request procedure. The Department of State has made clear that any visitor to a U.S. academic institution who engages in a collaborative activity or research, and whose activity will benefit the hosting institution should be sponsored for a J-1 visa.

    The initial maximum period of stay for a B-1 visa holder can be up to 6 months, although the individual could be admitted to the United States for less than six months.  The period of time for which a visitor may be admitted depends on the time requested, the proof of finances for that time period, and the discretion of the immigration officer at the U.S. port-of-entry.  Extensions of the B-1 status may be granted for up to six months or less through application to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) by the B-1 Visitor for Business.
  • B-1 Visitors Payment
    B-1s may not receive a salary from UCSC.  However, they may be allowed to receive reimbursement in some cases.  Individuals admitted under a B-1 visa are allowed to receive reimbursement for travel and per diem expenses, up to a reasonable amount, for the period of time they are in the U.S. as a B-1 Visitor for Business.
    Additionally, B-1 visa holders are allowed to receive payment of honoraria and associated incidental expenses for "usual academic activity," provided that the activity on campus lasts no longer than nine days from the beginning to the end of their activity. B-1 visa holders cannot accept honoraria and/or incidental expenses from more than five institutions or organizations in a six-month period.
  • B-2 status (Visitor for Pleasure)
    An international visitor entering in B-2 status has recreational intent, including tourism, amusement, visits with friends or relatives, rest, and activities of a social nature. In ALL cases, we recommend that departments invite visitors in B-1 rather than B-2 status.

WB Visa Waiver Program Overview

The Visa Waiver Program (VWP) allows citizens of certain countries to enter the United States as non-immigrants for up to 90 days for business (WB status) or pleasure (WT status).

For a complete list of countries eligible for the visa waiver program, please visit the website for the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs.

In general, the same rules apply to the WB (Visitor for Business) as apply to the B-1.  However, a significant difference is that individuals requesting WB status, who enter the U.S. without a B-1 visa stamp in their passport, can only stay in the U.S. for a maximum of 90 days and cannot extend their stay or change their status inside the U.S.  This means that an individual cannot come to the U.S. on a visa waiver with any uncertainty about their length of stay or the hope to change to another status.  

Eligible travelers who wish to travel to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program must apply for authorization via the Department of Homeland Security's  Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA). For more information about the Visa Waiver Program or ESTA visit U.S. Customs and Border Protection website. 

Procedures for Inviting B-1 or WB Visitors

If you believe an international visitor invited to your department may qualify as a B-1 or WB business visitor, please follow the procedures below:

  1. The department issues an invitation letter (template)
  2. If the visiting scholar will apply for a B-1 visa, he or she will need to take the invitation letter and proof of finances to the U.S. Consulate or Embassy responsible for his or her location.  The visitor will need to fill out Form DS-160, the online nonimmigrant visa application which can be found at the U.S. embassy’s website or at the U.S. Department of State website.  A visa application fee will also be required at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate. 
  3. If the visiting scholar will not apply for a visa because he or she can enter under the visa waiver program as a WB and will not stay more than 90 days, the scholar will need to present the invitation letter and proof of finances at passport inspection at the US port-of-entry. The scholar should make sure that the passport admission stamp has a WB annotation before leaving the passport inspection area.  A “WT” is an annotation for “tourist” and will not allow the privileges described above, so it is important to get the correct annotation at passport inspection.

After arrival, the visiting scholar should also check their I-94 record (arrival and departure information) to ensure that the data matches the information on the passport admission stamp.  A visitor may print a paper-I-94 from this website, if necessary. If there are concerns, please contact ISSS.