You’re an insanely busy startup founder, not a work visa master. If you’re struggling to understand your work visa options, don’t spend another second worrying about it—we have you covered! We spend every day helping startup founders understand their options, and preparing visa applications without mountains of paperwork or the hassle of hiring an immigration attorney.
What is the B-1 Visa?
The boring definition: The B-1 visa is a temporary, non-immigrant visa that allows you to visit the U.S. for business-related activities.
Boring definition translation: If you need to travel to the U.S. to participate in an accelerator program, fundraise, open a new office, or pretty much anything else related to setting up your startup, the B-1 is a great option.
How long is the B-1 valid?
The B-1 is valid for 6 month visits, specifically 180 days.
What business activities can I do on the B-1?
You can do a wide range of activities on B-1 status:
- Attend meetings, trainings, and conferences
- Meet with your advisors, customers, vendors, and partners
- Raise capital
- Participate in an accelerator program
The B-1 is ideal for startup founders because it gives you enough flexibility and time to explore your options without the risk of having to leave at a critical time of company growth.
What business activities are not allowed on B-1 status?
The B-1 is very flexible, and there are only two things you are not allowed to do while on B-1 status: work, and earn a salary from a U.S.-based company. As long as you stick to the activities listed above, you will be fine!
What do I need to do to apply for the B-1?
To apply for the B-1, the first step is to complete Form DS-160. Once you have completed the form, you will need to schedule an interview at the consulate of your choice. Finally, compile the required documents to bring with you. We’ve put together a step-by-step B-1 visa checklist and a list of documents here.
I am coming to the U.S. for an accelerator program. Do I need a B-1 visa to participate in the accelerator?
You do not need a B-1 visa if you are from one of the 38 countries participating in the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). However, the B-1 is the preferred visa for startup founders attending a U.S. accelerator program because it offers more flexibility and is valid for 6 months, which is twice as long as the VWP.
What is the Visa Waiver Program?
The Visa Waiver Program (VWP) allows individuals from these 38 countries to travel to the U.S. temporarily for business or tourism. You can stay in the U.S. for up to 90 days (3 months) at a time without applying for a visa. You can read more about it in our Visa Waiver Program FAQ here.
Do I need a return ticket to apply for the B-1?
No, you do not need a return flight booked at the time you apply for the B-1 visa. However, you may need to provide supporting documentation to prove that you plan to return to your home country. Support documentation may include a letter from your company, a lease agreement from your residence outside of the U.S., or a copy of a recent bank statement.
Can I extend my B-1 status?
Yes, B-1 visa holders are eligible to apply for an extension without leaving the U.S. As a B-1 temporary visitor for business, you can apply online here. If you think you will need to apply for an extension, make sure to plan early. USCIS recommends applying for the extension at least 45 days prior to your visa expiration date.
What is the cost to apply for an extension?
The current cost to apply for an extension is $370. Check here for current forms and filing fees.