How do B-1 visas work?

Canadian organizations are sending their employees to the United States for temporary work purposes. However, Canadians -- just like people from other countries -- require a special work visa to be employed legally in the United States. When a human resources person is sending an employee from Canada to the United States, there are a few basics they will want to know. This article will discuss some of the more pressing issues surrounding the topic of B-1 visas in particular.

A U.S. visa gives foreign citizens the ability to travel through a U.S. border and enter the country. In the United States, there are two primary types of visas: non-immigrant visas that apply to temporary visits and immigrant visas that offer permanent residence status.

Canadian HR directors often make the mistake of assuming that their employees can enter the United states under a B-1 visa -- also known as the business visitor's visa. However, it is not as simple as that. The B-1 qualifications are actually quite complicated and they can present certain challenges for HR directors.

B-1 visas are for employees who are currently employed in Canada (or some other country) and will only be coming to the United States for short stints at a time and carry out activities that are not necessarily work. Here are some of the activities that B-1 visa holders are permitted to engage in:

-- Discussing plans for an investment or important purchase

-- Completing short-term training

-- Building business relationships

-- Participating in a conference

-- Going to a business meeting

-- Completing an after-sales activity

-- Hiring staff and conducting interviews.

There are different options available to Canadian employees who need to enter the United States for employment-related purposes. It is important to review all of the options available and the legal qualification for each in order to determine the best option for a given situation.

Source: Border Solutions Law Group, "Employment Immigration," accessed July 21, 2016

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