The B1 in lieu of an H1B

In certain limited circumstances, the U.S. Consulate may issue an employment-authorized B1 visa where the work to be undertaken would usually require an H1B visa.

This provision is particularly applicable to situations where you may need a non-US company to send a member of staff to the U.S. for a limited period in order to undertake specific projects for you; or where you wish to bring in an employee of an overseas subsidiary, affiliate, or parent for a limited period.

The requirements for acquiring a B1 in lieu of H1B are:

  • The work to be undertaken in the US must be H1B level – i.e., the worker must be engaged in a ‘speciality occupation’;
  • The worker must permanently employed (i.e., not a contractor) and paid by the employer outside the U.S.;
  • The worker may receive no compensation from a U.S. source, except expenses ;
  • The worker must have a degree relevant to the services to be provided– there is no provision for work experience to be considered equivalent to a degree, as there is under the H1B.

The B1 in lieu of H-1 visa generally takes one to two weeks to obtain, and considerably more supporting documentation is required than for a normal B1 visa. Periods of admission and extension are the same as for the standard B1 visa (i.e., generally 6 months). If the necessary conditions are satisfied, the applicant can apply for a visa.

It should be noted that, in rare circumstances, holders of this visa encounter problems when trying to enter the U.S. This is because this visa has not been formally recognized by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), even though it is issued by a U.S. Consulate or Embassy.