Studying Abroad

B1 Visa

Ben Maples  · Oct 7th 2020

Many people want to study in the United States, but there are also people who wish to work in the country as well. This is where the B1 Visa comes in.


For many people, the idea of working in the US is a very alluring idea, especially if students are interested in taking a gap year or are interested in studying abroad.

While certain visas such as the J1 Visa, Tier 4 Visa, M1 Visa or the F1 Visa exist for the purposes of studying abroad, the B1 Visa is designed to allow people to travel or potentially work in the country.

U.S. B1 Visa

What is a B1 Visa?

A B1 Visa is a visa that allows people to temporarily travel and work in the United States. The visa is primarily intended for visitors who are only visiting for a short period of time, usually for around six months. Under the B1 Visa, you are unable to abandon your foreign residency.

Under a B1 Visa, you may not be able to undertake certain work types and may be limited to certain work types. This is because the visa itself is not specifically a work visa, so the limitations of the visa are often changing.

What is a B-1 in Lieu of H-1B Visa?

This is still essentially the same visa, however, the visa is considered to be a separate business feature. This is mainly for those that are entering the country without a designated US employer or sponsor and is mainly used for those that are undertaking “productive work” in the county for an employer based outside the US.

For instance, if you are visiting the Milwaukee branch of your UK company, you would require a B-1 in Lieu of H-1B Visa. It is also common for a number of gap year agencies to offer this for applicants.

This is a bit of a “how long is a piece of string” question really, as it depends on the workload that the US Embassy has at that point.

What is a B-1 in Lieu of E-2 Visa?

A B-1 in Lieu of E-2 Visa is a prospective investor visa. This is a visa that allows someone to enter the country with the intention of investing in American businesses, although the investor is unable to undertake any “productive work” or management of a business.

How much does a B1 visa cost?

The application fee changes quite often, but for now, the visa costs $160 (£124 with the current exchange rate).

The fee itself is non-refundable and is also non-transferable. You may incur other fees, but these fees change depending on the country you're applying from and also depends on the other admin fees.

How long does a B1 Visa last?

A B1 Visa usually lasts for six months. This length of time is stipulated by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), however, it is possible to extend the visa beyond the initial six months.

Can I bring a dependent with me?

Unfortunately, the B1 visa does not allow for the visa holder to bring a dependent with them as the visa itself is only a temporary visa. For any dependents to travel with you, they will need to apply for a B2 Visa, which is a tourist visa (or nonimmigrant visa).

B1 B2 Visa Application Form

Can you extend your B1 Visa?

It is possible to extend the B1 Visa if you need to, however, your employer must submit a letter to the aforementioned USCIS in order to apply for the extension.

It is common for the visa to be extended by an extra six months, however, the visa can often be extended beyond the typical six month period, however, this is all dependent on the situation and the circumstances.

How to apply for a B1 Visa

The steps for applying for a B1 Visa are relatively straight-forward and don't take too long and there are a few B1 visa requirements for you to consider too.

The first thing you will need to do when you apply for your B1 visa is complete a DS-160 Form, which is an Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application. This application requires you to provide your background information and the purpose of your visit.

After this, you will be required to pay the B1 Visa fee and schedule your visa interview. This is very similar to a job interview or a university interview and will be essential for entering the country. The interview is strictly mandatory for all applicants aged between 14 and 79.

After you have set the date, you will need to attend the interview and the preliminaries will be set in motion from there and you will also be asked to bring all relevant documentation with you as well, including your interview conformation letter.

A B1 Visa is a visa that allows people to temporarily travel and work in the United States.

What will I need to bring with me to my B1 visa interview?

There are a number of documents that you need to bring with you to your B1 interview in order to support your application, which are:

  • Your DS-160 Form confirmation page and code
  • Details of any social media accounts that you own and operate
  • A photo of yourself
  • A valid passport (it must be valid for at least six months beyond your planned stay in the US)
  • A letter from your company detailing the purposes of your visit
  • Letter from your employer and three months payslips
  • A letter detailing why you are visiting
  • Financial statements (or bank statements) which prove you can afford to live in the United States
  • Proof of ties: Essentially job contracts, family, property deeds etc that prove you will return home
  • Criminal records
  • Any proof of prior US visits

If you do not have all of these documents, you will not be allowed to visit the US and you will likely not be allowed to even sit your visa interview as you will not be able to answer certain B1 visa interview questions.

US Visa types B1 B2

How long does it take to get my B1 visa?

This is a bit of a “how long is a piece of string” question really, as it depends on the workload that the US Embassy has at that point.

There is no set date and there is little to no average available to accurately gauge whether or not you are in for a long wait, it could be done within two days, it could be done in twelve weeks, it's too difficult to know.

A B-1 in Lieu of E-2 Visa is a prospective investor visa.

Do I get to use the American healthcare system with a B1 visa?

You will need to get some health insurance before you travel to the United States, just as you may need to with certain countries on the Erasmus programme.

If you are travelling from the United Kingdom then you need to be aware of the difference between the two healthcare systems. For the UK, healthcare is considered to be “universal healthcare” under the NHS, in which the majority of operations etc are covered by taxes.

In the United States, there is no free cover at all. While the Affordable Care Act (ACA) (colloquially referred to as Obamacare) does help with certain procedures, the ACA is being slowly repealed and the cost of operations etc are rising with each passing day. In fact, it is known that it can cost up to $2,500 for a broken arm and staying just one night in a hospital could cost you in excess of $10,000.

For this reason, we recommend that you look into affordable healthcare options for you when travelling to the US.

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