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B-1 in Lieu of H-1B: What is It and How Can It Help my Business?

By March 31, 2016May 18th, 2021H-1B and E-3 Visa, Immigration
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The B-1, Business Visitor Visa has many uses and is a valuable visa for people seeking to come to the United States to perform limited business activities such as attending a conference or a Board Meeting. However, the B-1 visa specifically prohibits the visa holder from engaging in traditional work activities. In the event that a foreign company (or a U.S. company that is an affiliate, subsidiary or parent of a foreign company) would like to send an employee to the United States to perform productive skilled labor for a limited time, the B-1 in lieu of H-1B may be a good option.

Who Qualifies for the B-1 in lieu of H-1B?

This visa is meant to allow a foreign employer to place a worker temporarily in the United States. The B-1 in lieu of H-1B is appropriate for applicants that meet the following requirements:

  1. Applicant has the equivalent of a U.S. Bachelor’s degree;
  2. Applicant is coming to the U.S. to perform work that reaches the level of H-1B workers, meaning work in a specialty occupation requiring a Bachelor’s degree;
  3. Applicant cannot receive a salary from the U.S. source, although he or she may be reimbursed for certain incidental expenses;
  4. Applicant must be a permanent employee of the foreign employer and must be paid by that foreign employer.

How Do I Apply for this Visa?

The B-1 in lieu of H-1B is a B-1 visa that has been annotated as a B-1 in lieu of H-1B to allow the visa holder to engage in work activities permitted under an H-1B for a limited time. The B-1 in lieu of H-1B is not well-known and is difficult to get approved because many consular officers and border officials are not familiar with it. Some consulates will issue these visas but the consular officers subject applicants to in depth questioning and requests for additional information. Applicants will need to work closely with their employer to prepare documentation demonstrating their educational credentials, as well as proof that they are permanently employed and being paid by their foreign employer. They will also need evidence that the work to be performed rises to the level of work done by H-1B workers and show that they plan to stay for a limited time, usually under 6 months.

If the H-1B cap has been reached and your company would like to send workers to the U.S. temporarily for short-term projects, the B-1 in lieu of H-1B may be a good option for you. Given the difficulty of obtaining this type of visa it is strongly advised that you seek the assistance of a lawyer in preparing this type of application.


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