American cities like New York City, San Francisco and Chicago are among the top destinations for business travelers. But who needs to make a visitor visa and what are the individual application steps and requirements? We inform about the so-called business visa and assist you with the B-1 application process if desired.

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B-1 at a glance

Visa category: visitor visa

Target group: business travelers; persons, who cannot use ESTA

Gültigkeit: generally 10 years

Length of stay: max. 180 days per entry, renewable only once for another max. 180 days

Characteristics: working, studying, immigratin etc. not allowed

What is the B-1 visa?

The B-1 visa is a common nonimmigrant visa for the USA which allows temporary stay in the United States and limited professional activities. The official name of the visa category is B-1 Temporary Business Visitor.

With a B-1 visa you may carry out certain business activities, which are not not classified as work. These include, for example

  • making customer and business contacts
  • internal company meetings at the US location
  • external business meetings
  • establishing a US branch office
  • participation in trade fairs and conferences as a visitor or exhibitor
  • contract negotiations and the conclusion of business contracts
Bild von einem Geschäftsreisenden in den USA

A B-1 visa is required in the following cases:

  • Business travelers cannot use the Visa Waiver Program (visa-free entry with ESTA). This applies to:
    - persons of certain nationalities (e.g. Bulgaria, Serbia, Turkey)
    - persons who have traveled to one of the following countries since March 1, 2011: Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Sudan, Syria or Yemen
    - persons who have traveled to Cuba since January 12, 2021
    - persons with a second citizenship of one of the following countries: Iran, Iraq, Sudan or Syria
    - persons wishing to enter the US on a private yacht or non-listed airline or shipping company
    - persons who have already been denied entry to the USA (at the border) or who have been deported from the United States
    - persons with a criminal record or who have been arrested or convicted (check individual case)
    - persons who have violated the entry regulations of the US authorities (overstay, etc.)
    - persons suffering from a serious, infectious disease
  • Business travelers wishing to stay in the USA for more than 90 days at a time

B-1 visa holders are not allowed to work productively under any circumstances. Alternatively, they should consider applying for a work visa for the USA. Persons who have to spend longer periods of time in the United States for business reasons or who have to enter the country frequently should also consider applying for a regular work visa (e.g. E or L visa).

In individual cases, it can be examined whether alternatively the visa free entry with ESTA can be used for limited business purposes (= Business Visa Waiver). The so-called Visa Waiver Program allows certain nationals to stay in the US for up to 90 days without having to apply for a visa in advance.

B-1 Visa Requirements

For the B-1 business visitor visa, the following requirements apply:

  • Temporary stay in the USA
    Applicants must prove that they only wish to stay in the United States temporarily and have no intention of immigrating.
  • Maintenance of the origial job
    Employment must continue in the home country during the entire stay in the USA. It is not permitted to accept employment / work in the United States or to receive remuneration from a US company or its location.
  • Permanent employment and residence outside the United States
    B-1 applicants must keep their apartment or house outside the USA and return to their original place of work after their stay in the United States. Their center of life remains at their previous place of work and residence.
  • Intention to return and ties to the home country
    B-1 applicants must prove that they have a firm intention to return and have strong ties to their home country. This can be through the existing employment relationship, ownership of a property and family and friendship ties. This is to ensure that they leave the USA at the end of their stay and return to their home country.
  • Sufficient financial resources
    Applicants for the B-1 visa must prove that they have sufficient financial resources to fully fund their stay in the United States without working illegally or claiming welfare benefits (e.g. by submitting payrolls, bank statements, etc.).

Subcategories of the B-1 visa

As a rule, those who hold a B visa are not allowed to engage in productive work or learning activities. However, under strictly defined conditions, a B visa may be issued exceptionally for persons engaged in productive employment or further education.

The following special cases are not independent visa categories. In the online visa application DS-160 the special cases are considered and applied for as a regular B-1 visa.

The US consular officers only make a note in the annotation field of the visa to indicate which B-1 subcategory is involved.

B-1 After Sales visa

Companies that sell machinery or production equipment to the US can, under certain conditions, have their assemblers travel to the USA to fulfill service orders, i.e. after-sales services. For example, assembly work, installations, maintenance work and training may be carried out on site by US personnel.

In certain cases, it may also be possible to apply for a temporary project visa for professionals.

Under certain conditions, the B-1 category can be used for short in-house trainings and further education.

Personal advice on US visas Our experts will be happy to advise you on your request

How long can I stay in the USA with the B-1 visa?

With a B-1 visa, business travelers may officially stay in the United States for up to 180 days for multiple entries or consecutive days. The maximum length of stay in the USA does not apply per year but per entry.

However, the exact length of stay is determined individually by the US border officers each time you enter the country and can be viewed online in the electronic I-94 or can be seen on the entry stamp in your passport.

The maximum status, e.g. permitted length of stay, of 180 days can be extended in the USA by submitting a status extension application to the US immigration authority USCIS for a further maximum of 180 days (i.e. to a maximum of 365 days).

US business travelers must leave the United States no later than the date of departure noted on the entry stamp or electronic I-94 in order to avoid the risk of an overstay.

Each time you travel to the United States, you will receive a new status at the border crossing. As long as the B-1 visa is valid, foreign nationals with the visa may request entry at the border.

How long is the B-1 visa valid?

As a rule, B-1 visas are issued for 10 years. This means that if travelers are frequently in the USA for business reasons, they do not need to apply for a new visa for re-entry.

However, the visa for business trips to the USA can also be issued for a shorter period. This depends in particular on the nationality of the applicant.

The validity of the B-1 visa does not mean that you are allowed to stay in the USA for the same length of time. The validity period of the visa does not correspond to the permitted length of stay in the USA, i.e. you must differentiate between the validity of the US visa and the length of stay or residence status.

The validity period of the visa refers to the period between the issue date and the expiration date during which applicants can apply for entry at the border. The period of validity of the visa is determined by the US consulate or US embassy where you submitted the application and can be seen from the expiration date on the visa.


Alternatively, business travelers staying in the United States for no more than 90 days may be able to participate in the Visa Waiver Program (Visa Waiver Program) and therefore do not need to apply for a visa.

Before processing the visa application, our visa specialists check with all customers whether entry via ESTA is possible or whether a B-1 business visa is required. The overlaps between ESTA or B-1 visa are large, they must nevertheless be tailored to the individual reason for the trip and the background of the travelers.

Applying for a B-1 visa

What to consider when applying for a B-1 visa

It is important to note that applying for a B-1 visa requires a thorough understanding of the process and careful planning of the steps required. This includes selecting the appropriate visa type according to the purpose of the trip, the correct completion of the application forms and the preparation for the visa interview, there are many important aspects to consider.

The following section explains the individual steps of the B-1 visa application process and provides a guidelines for a successful application.

Applicants for a B-1 visa between the ages of 14 and 79 usually have to go through the consular application procedure. This means that the online form DS-160 is usually filled out for the B-1 visa and the visa is issued as part of a personal interviews in a responsible US representation (US consulate or US embassy) in the home country.

All necessary requirements and required documents for B-1 visa applicants must be fulfilled or available before submitting the B-1 visa application.

How long does it take to apply for a B-1 visa?

Based on our many years of experience in processing B-1 visa applications, we recommend at least 6 to 8 weeks for processing the application until receipt of the B-1 visa.

The appointment situation in the US consulates / US embassies in particular varies greatly and is sometimes dependent on the time of year, for example.

After your B-1 visa application has been reviewed and approved, your passport will be retained for visa issuance. Approximately one week after the visa interview, your passport and B-1 visa will be mailed to you.

You may be exempt from the personal interview requirement. In this case, the processing time for the postal application is approximately 2 weeks.

Attention: In some cases, a further security check (Administrative Processing), which can take several months. This can considerably delay the B-1 visa application.

How much does a B-1 visa for the USA cost?

The visa fee for the B-1 visa is 175.75 € (185 $) per applicant. This general application fee of the US consulates or US embassies must be paid by all applicants and is neither refundable nor transferable to other persons.

The processing fee can be paid by online bank transfer, online payment by debit card or cash payment at a bank.

As a rule, this fee can be used to make an appointment within one year of the payment date.

Bild von einer USA Kreditkarte für Visa-Gebühren

Furthermore, additional costs may be incurred for certain B-1 applicants:

  • Costs for passport delivery
    (postal delivery of passports is subject to a fee, passport collection is free of charge)
  • Costs for a new passport photo
  • Costs for a new passport
  • Reciprocity fee
  • Service fees for our US Visa Service
  • Renewed payment of visa fees if appointments are postponed too often

You can find more information about the different visa fees, other possible costs and the current payment methods on our fees page.

Go to the cost overview

How to apply for a B-1 visa

The following steps are required to apply for a B-1 visa for the USA:

The first step in applying for a B-1 visa for the USA is to fill out the electronic visa application form DS-160 on the Website of the US Department of State.

The online application form asks for detailed information about the applicant and the planned stay in the USA. To complete the DS-160 form, the following documents should be kept ready:

  • valid passport
  • personal information (e.g. marital status, address)
  • data from the last five entries into the USA
  • CV (curriculum vitae), so that the current and previous employers can be indicated
  • information on school career and travel behavior
  • security issues
  • digital, biometric passport photo (in 5 x 5 cm format)

A few days after submitting your DS-160 form, it is possible to check the status of your visa application online.

Did you know that the professional processing and submission of your DS-160 form is part of our range of services?

Create a Visa profile on the website of the Visa Information Service which is used to process B-1 visa applications.

Here you can also pay the visa processing fee and make an appointment for the visa interview.

  1. Pay the application fee:
    Pay the B-1 visa fee in the amount of 175.75 € (185 $). Payment can be made online or in cash.
  2. Make an appointment for the visa interview:
    Schedule an appointment for the visa interview. This can be done online via your visa profile or by telephone.

If you use our US Visa Service, we will create the required online profile, advance the consular visa application fee and arrange the appointment for the personal interview with the US consular officers.

Show up on day of the interview personally in the US consulate or at the US embassy. Your documents will be checked there and you will be interviewed by the consular officers.

The following documents must be prepared and brought along for the appointment at the US consulate or the US embassy:

  • appointment confirmation
  • barcode sheet of the online submitted form DS-160 incl. proof of payment of the consular application fee
  • cover letter explaining the purpose of your entry
  • evidence of the intention to return to your home country after the end of your stay (proof of permanent residence through copy of rental contract, etc.)
  • if necessary, further documents (financial documents, copy of employment contract, CV, etc.)

Be prepared to be asked questions about your visa application, your planned stay in the United States and other relevant topics.

Typically, B-1 visa applicants will be informed at the end of their appointment at the US consulate or US embassy whether or not their visa application will be approved.

Our visa consultants will prepare you optimally for this important appointment and ensure that you have all the necessary documents for a smooth visa interview.

If your B-1 visa application is approved, you will receive your passport with the B-1 visa returned by post or can make an appointment for collection.

Versand per Post

Apply for a B-1 visa by post

Under certain circumstances, applicants have the option of applying for the B-1 visa by post without having to appear in person for an interview at the US consulate or US embassy. This is possible under the so-called Interview Waiver Program.

Certain criteria must be met so that the personal visa appointment can be waived and the documents can be submitted by post. The interview exemption requires, among other things, that a B-1 visa has already been issued and that certain other conditions are met.

It is important to note that the interview waiver does not mean that the B-1 visa is automatically approved. In addition, B-1 visa applicants may be invited for an interview if the US authorities deem it necessary, despite having applied by mail.

Further information on the postal visa application
Sample of a B-1 visa

The B-1 visa contains a variety of information that identifies the visa holder and establishes his or her rights and restrictions while in the United States.

It is important that you check this information carefully and ensure that you meet the requirements of your planned stay in the USA.

Bild von einem B-1 Visum für die USA

Here are some of the dates and details that can be found on a US visa:

  • full name of the person holding the visa
  • passport photo
  • passport number
  • birth date
  • gender
  • nationality
  • issue and expiration date
  • visa type
  • entries (M means that you can apply for entry to the USA several times. If there is a number here, you can apply for entry the corresponding number of times).
  • issuing post office
  • annotation, if applicable

How to find out if a B-1 visa has been approved

The foreign missions of the United States, i.e. the US consulates and US embassies, are responsible for issuing US visas.

Consular officers usually decide whether a visa for the USA will be granted on the day of the interview. Applicants for a B-1 visa usually find out during their appointment whether or not they will receive the visa.

You can check the status of your US visa application online.

1. Approved B-1 visa

Your B-1 visa was granted verbally by the US officers and is now in the final processing stage.

As soon as the B-1 visa has been stamped in your passport and issued, the passport with the corresponding US visa will be sent to you by mail.

2. Additional check

In certain cases, US consular officers decide not to issue the B-1 visa immediately and deny the visa under Section 221(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). The application for the B-1 visa requires an additional security check and further processing steps (Administrative Processing). If necessary, further documents or information will be requested from the applicants.

3. Refused B-1 visa

If the US officers conclude that you do not qualify for the B-1 category, your B-1 visa to the USA will be denied. A reason for the denial is not required, but applicants usually receive further instructions on the day of the interview or a denial letter after a processing period.

The grounds for refusal vary depending on the visa category and applicant (e.g. presumption of intent to immigrate, presumption of illegal employment, incorrect application documentation).

What to do if the B-1 visa for the USA is refused

After a visa refusal it is generally possible to submit a new B-1 application at any time. Theoretically, there is no waiting period for applicants until the next application.

In our experience, it is only advisable to reapply in the same category if the conditions or circumstances have changed since the first application and you are able to provide evidence of these changes or new circumstances.

It is not very promising to apply for a new visa if you do not meet the requirements of the respective visa category (intention to return to your home country, financial means, specialized professional knowledge, etc.). In practice, a new B-1 visa can often only be successfully applied for after several months or even years.

After a visa refusal, applicants must start the visa application process all over again. Incidentally, no appeal can be lodged against a visa refusal.

There are many reasons why a visa application may be rejected and sometimes even minor errors during the application process lead to a rejection.


The most common reasons for a B-1 visa refusal

  • Visa requirements are not met
    Applicants often do not meet the necessary criteria for the desired visa category, such as insufficient ties to their home country or insufficient financial resources.
    Discrepancies may also arise during the visa interview if the visa category applied for does not correspond to the stated purpose of the trip (assumption of an immigration intention, presumption of illegal employment).
  • Errors in the visa application / lack of application documentation
    It often happens that application documents and supporting documents are incomplete, information in the DS-160 visa application form has not been entered correctly or the B-1 visa application has not been prepared correctly.
  • Other reasons for a visa refusal
    The most common reasons for rejection also include the applicant's personal circumstances, such as a criminal record, a terrorist background, infectious diseases, violations of US immigration law (e.g. illegal residence in the USA or illegal employment) and suspicious behavior during previous entries.


Consequences of a visa refusal

The consequences of a denied B-1 visa for the applicant vary depending on the reason for the denial.

  1. ESTA ban
    The rejection of a B-1 visa usually means that visa-free entry with ESTA can no longer be used. This is due to the fact that the ESTA application includes a question as to whether a visa application has previously been rejected. A "yes" answer to this question usually leads to the rejection of the ESTA application.
  2. Planned stay in the USA not possible
    If the B-1 visa is denied, the applicant will not be able to travel to the US for the intended purpose, such as a meeting with clients or contract negotiations.
  3. Entry ban
    In certain cases, the US authorities even impose an entry ban for the United States.

Although US authorities are not obliged to explain the reasons for a visa refusal, it is possible to ask politely during the interview at the US consulate or US embassy. This information may be helpful if you intend to reapply for the B-1 visa.

We recommend that you prepare your application for a renewed B-1 visa carefully and convincingly: Choose the appropriate category, fill out the DS-160 online form correctly and completely, and collect valid supporting documents.

Bidl von einem Videocall mit mehreren Teilnehmenden
Our services

We advise you on the choice of the appropriate visa category and take over the complete processing for you or your company.

  1. First contact: We clarify which visa or which visa types are applicable in your case.
  2. Worldwide support: We will assist you with your request, no matter where you are located.
  3. Assignment: We send your HR department and the respective employees all the necessary documents and checklists.
  4. Visa processing: We take care of checking, correcting and compiling the application documents.
  5. Visa Interview Preparation: We will disburse the visa application fee for you and arrange the visa interview appointment. In addition, each applicant will be prepared by telephone for the formalities and procedures at the US Consulate.
  6. Visa issuance: We check your visa for accuracy and prepare your employees for entry into the USA by telephone.

Does a B-1 visa guarantee admission to the USA?

Many applicants mistakenly assume that an approved US visa guarantees them entry into the United States. In fact, a B-1 visa in the passport does not automatically guarantee entry to the USA. A US visa is not legally a residence permit, and even with an approved visa there is no guarantee of entry. A valid visa for business travel only entitles the holder to apply for entry into the United States at the border crossing (e.g. airport).

The decision as to whether you are allowed to enter the country ultimately lies with the border officers who check the B-1 visa on arrival in the USA. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers decide on the duration of the stay and whether entry is granted. This may also mean that you might not be allowed to enter the country and have to return to your home country.

If you have been permitted entry, it is advisable to check online in the I-94 or on the entry stamp in your passport when your legal stay in the USA expires.

Bild von einem US-Grenzbeamten am Flughafen

Tip: With Global Entry, pre-approved and biometrically approved individuals can carry out entry checks independently and automatically at almost all major US airports. This allows business travelers to avoid long queues and enter the United States more quickly.

Further information on the Global Entry Program

B-1 visa extension

First of all, the following principle applies: The validity period of a visa cannot be extended, regardless of the visa category. This is considered a new application. However, it is possible to apply for a new B-1 visa in good time before or after it expires. A B-1 visa can be applied for several times.

It is important to know that the remaining validity of your old B-1 visa will not be transferred to the new visa. In addition, an earlier visa issuance does not guarantee the approval of a new visa. All required documents and evidence must be resubmitted to the US consulate or US embassy.

It is therefore advisable to prepare the B-1 application carefully and to ensure that all necessary documents are complete in order to avoid possible delays or rejections.

When reapplying for a B-1 visa, it is also important to take into account the different processing times of the respective US consulates or US embassies and to allow sufficient lead time.


A simplified procedure may be possible for the new application. You may qualify for a postal renewal and thus be able to avoid the interview appointment. You can find more information on this under the Interview Waiver Program.

US visas for B-1 family members

Spouses, domestic partners and child(ren) of B-1 holders may travel with them to the USA. If family members do not participate in the planned business activities, they would be subject to a B-2 visa for tourists. Anyone wishing to accompany a B-1 visa holder to the United States will therefore require a separate B-2 visa. Citizens of Visa Waiver Program countries can of course also apply for visa-free entry with ESTA for short visits (up to 90 days).

A derived B-1 business traveler visa for family members does not exist.

Please note that both the B-2 visa and ESTA are only for accompanying a spouse or parent. Taking up work or attending school or university is not permitted.

Bild von begleitenden Familienangehörigen in den USA
B visa vs. ESTA

For international travelers wishing to travel to the United States, both the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) as well as the B visa are important entry options. Both allow you to stay in the USA for identical purposes, but also have significant differences.

The choice between the two options depends on the individual travel destinations, the planned length of stay and other specific requirements. Before traveling to the USA, it is advisable to inform yourself thoroughly about the respective requirements and restrictions in order to ensure a smooth and legally correct trip.


  • Purpose of stay: Both ESTA and B-1 / B-2 visas allow foreign nationals to travel to the USA and stay there temporarily for tourism or limited business activities. This includes vacations, visits to relatives, participation in trade fairs / conferences and business negotiations.
  • No work permit: Foreign nationals are not permitted to work in the USA or be paid from the USA with either ESTA or a B visa. Only limited business activities such as business meetings, customer or trade fair visits are permitted. Business activities also extend to after sales services, assembly work and training of US personnel (B-1 After Sales), project assignments (B-1 in lieu of H-1B) and in-house training (B-1 in lieu of H-3). Theoretically, these activities are possible with both the B visa and ESTA, but in practice it is often advisable to apply for a B visa.
  • Time limit: Both ESTA authorizations and B visas have time limits for stays in the US. With ESTA you can generally stay in the US for up to 90 days per visit, while B visas can allow a longer stay of up to 180 days per entry into the USA, depending on the type.


  • Application procedure: The ESTA application is online-based and only requires the completion of an electronic application form including the answering of security questions. Ideally, you should apply for ESTA as soon as you plan your trip to the USA, but no later than 72 hours before departure. B visas, on the other hand, require a more complex application process including the completion of a comprehensive online application form (DS-160). In addition, B applicants between 14 and 79 years of age must usually appear in person at a US embassy or US consulate.
  • Flexibility: ESTA is quick to obtain and is more suitable for short-term trips to the USA, while B visas are more complicated to apply for and can enable longer stays in the USA.
  • Authorization countries: ESTA is only valid for citizens of countries participating in the Visa Waiver Program (including Germany, Austria and Switzerland). B visas, on the other hand, are available to citizens of all countries and can be applied for worldwide.
  • B visa types: B visas comprise different categories, including B-1 (for business travel) and B-2 (for tourist / private purposes). These categories can be applied for separately or in combination, depending on the individual travel destinations.

The most frequently asked questions about the B-1 visa

No. The B-1 visa is a visitor visa with which you are not allowed to work in the USA under any circumstances. You will need a work visa or immigrant visa for this.

The B-1 visa is for business purposes. However, when B visas are granted, a combined B-1 / B-2 visa is often issued, which means that you can also travel to the USA as a tourist. Further information on this can be found on our overview page for US visitor visas.

For private stays in the USA of up to 90 days, it may be possible to apply for an ESTA travel authorization. The ESTA application can be submitted quickly and inexpensively compared to a visa application.

Other visa topics

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