Several options for immigration are available for business visitors to the United States. There are five categories of “EB” visas (employment-based visas) for immigrants eligible to work in the United States as permanent residents, and employer sponsorship is sometimes required for those visas. Temporary, non-immigrant visas are also offered to those who want or need to work in the United States for a specified and brief amount of time. In most cases, healthcare workers, scholars, professionals, athletes, artists, investors, and business persons will qualify for a temporary non-immigrant visa.
The Visa Waiver Program allows business visitors from 38 nations to visit the United States for up to 90 days without obtaining a visa, but if you are not entering the United States under the Visa Waiver Program, you will have to be interviewed for your visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate. After you have applied for your visa, the National Visa Center will notify you regarding the date, time, and location of your interview.
You and any family member who is also applying for a visa to accompany you to the United States must schedule and complete a medical examination, along with any required vaccinations, before your visa interview date. Your interviewer will want to determine that you are a genuine and legitimate business visitor, that you are eligible for the visa, and that you do not intend to violate any of the terms of your visa. Be prepared to provide information during the interview regarding:
- your company or business, its history, and its current prospects
- your reasons and plans for visiting the United States
- evidence of your plans, appointments, and meetings, especially letters or emails inviting you (If you plan to invest in the United States or buy U.S. products, this is in your favor.)
- your strong ties to your home, community, family, and property, and your intention to return at the end of your authorized stay in the United States
- your reservations and round-trip travel tickets
- your resources to cover your expenses while traveling and staying temporarily in the United States
Be prepared and confident when you interview for a business visa. If you are even the least bit hesitant or nervous, the interviewer may think you are hiding something or being dishonest. Your interviewer will have a great deal of discretion regarding your business visa, but your interviewer will also probably have only a few brief moments to “size you up” and make a decision regarding your visa petition.
If you speak English, interview in English and do not ask for an interpreter. Many business people are experts in their business, but they may not know English. If you don’t, you will need to request an interpreter. However, if you can communicate in English, it is in your favor, because English is still the predominant language in the U.S. business community. Almost no one speaks English perfectly, and no one expects you to speak it perfectly, either.
Nevertheless, you should be able to communicate clearly with your interviewer regarding your age, education, experience, your relationship with the company that is sending you to the United States, your employment with them, your marital status, and details about your children. You should be ready to provide the proof for all of these matters to the extent that it is possible. It is difficult to say precisely what documents will be required from you, as every visa petitioner’s circumstances are different. Of course, any fraud or misrepresentation while petitioning or interviewing for a visa could make you permanently ineligible for a nonimmigrant visa.
Applicants should dress formally for the visa interview, but they should also dress appropriately for their professional status. Maintain eye contact with your interviewer throughout the interview. Do not show any signs of nervousness such as tapping your fingers or tapping your foot. If you are going to the United States on behalf of your company, and if you can, wear your company’s ID to the interview in a visible manner.
Do not wear inappropriate clothing or excessive makeup or jewelry to the visa interview. If others who work for your company have traveled to the United States on a business visa, it may be a good idea to ask them first about the kinds of questions they were asked and the documents they were asked to produce. Their situation may be comparable to yours, and your colleagues may be able to give you a clear idea of what to expect. Listed here are some of the questions you may expect to be asked:
- Why do you wish to go to the United States?
- When will you be traveling, and how long do you intend to remain in the U.S.?
- How much will your visit cost, and who is paying for it?
- What does your company do, and what is your role there?
- Where will you go in the U.S., and whom will you meet?
- How will this visit benefit you and/or your employer?
- Who is going to accompany you to the U.S.?
- Have you been to the United States before?
- Can you prove that you will return at the end of your period of authorized stay?
After you have entered the United States on a temporary, nonimmigrant business visa, consult with an experienced immigration attorney before you do anything like starting a business, opening a bank account, investing, or purchasing life insurance. Those are all actions that indicate that someone may be planning to remain in the United States, so you will need an immigration attorney’s help and advice to avoid the suspicions of immigration authorities.
If you are coming to the U.S. on business, a good immigration lawyer can answer your questions, address your concerns, help you with your visa petition, and discuss your visa interview. Today, of course, you can speak to an immigration attorney by phone or email from anywhere in the world. A good immigration lawyer will also defend your rights and help you achieve your goals. Still, the only person who can prepare you for a visa interview is you. Full preparation for the visa interview is essential if you want or need to do business in the United States.