As is the case with practically all other nonimmigrant visa categories (and excluding H-1B and L-1 visas), an applicant for a B-1 visa must document the purpose of their trip and their “nonimmigrant intent” – which includes demonstrating they intend on returning to their home country, that they have a home they do not plan on abandoning, that they have evidence of substantial enough ties to their home country such that they would return home AND that they have sufficient funds available to support themselves during any prospective trip to the U.S. (so that they would not need to resort to unauthorized employment in the U.S.). Furthermore, the time being sought to visit in the U.S. must be for a limited, temporary and defined period.
An applicant must also demonstrate that they are not subject to any basis of inadmissibility under governing immigration statutes.
The process of applying for a B-1 visa starts with the foreign national locating the nearest U.S. consular post (embassy or consulate), submitting a visa application and scheduling an appointment. These steps can be accomplished by way of the U.S. Department of State website. Unlike many other nonimmigrant visa types, with B-1 visa applications there are no preliminary steps to take to obtain a prior US CIS or other governmental agency approval. Simply, it involves submitting the application appearing at an interview and getting an answer from a U.S. consular official, and with the most common basis for refusal being that the applicant is seen as having an intent to immigrate to the U.S. and without sufficiently strong ties to their home country.
There is no formal avenue for appealing a U.S. consular officer decision to deny a B-1 visitor for business application, as decisions on such applications rest entirely in the discretion of the reviewing officer. However, in some cases, an applicant may be able to request a supervisory consular officer to intervene to review the decision, or if the foreign national has ties to individuals or a company in the U.S., request a U.S. Representative or Senator to inquire.
If the foreign national is from one of 38 pre-approved nations, they may not need a visa to enter the U.S. to visit. Instead, by way of an Electronic System for Travel Authorization or “ESTA” entry, the foreign national may be granted 90 days to enter the U.S. to accomplish the purpose of their visit and without a B visa. Importantly, having access to an ESTA entry into the U.S. does not mean the foreign national has unlimited opportunity to travel and remain in the U.S. In this regard, an ESTA visitor may indeed ultimately be denied entry if the U.S. inspections officer at the port of entry decides the foreign national has spent too much time in the U.S. in too short a period (e.g. successive, 90 day stays in the U.S. in 6-9 month period), deeming the visitor as having immigrant intent.
To be fully informed about the B-1 visa process and the factors at play in U.S. consular officer decision making, prospective applicants are advised to consult with knowledgeable immigration law counsel, such as Richard Hanus at the Law Offices of Richard Hanus. That way, a B-1 visa applicant will have maximum insight into all variables at play when it comes to when and how a B-1 visa will be issued.