In the initial phases of starting your business in the U.S., there are certain visas that are ideal for entrepreneurs looking to visit the U.S. on a temporary basis to meet with potential customers, negotiate deals, attend conferences, etc.
B-1 Business Visa
A B-1 visa allows employees to be admitted to the U.S. for an initial period of up to six months, with discretionary extensions of up to six months. B-1 visa holders must limit their activities to meetings/negotiations/conferences/etc., and may not engage in gainful employment in the U.S. They must be compensated only by their non-US employer and must maintain a permanent residence outside of the U.S.
Visa Waiver Program
Employees from one of 39 qualifying countries coming to the U.S. for business trips of 90 days or less may take advantage of the Visa Waiver Program. This program allows nationals of qualifying countries to apply for entry to the U.S. for business without first obtaining a B-1 visa. Certain restrictions apply, including a prohibition against changing or extending visa status once in the US. Visa Waiver is available to employees coming to the US temporarily to conduct business on behalf of their foreign employer, much like the B-1 visa. The types of business activities are similarly limited to meetings/negotiations/conferences/etc., as with a B-1 visa.
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