I recently went to the USA, traveling on a Canadian passport.

When going through Immigration, I said I was going for work. Of course the immigration officer needed details so I told him.

Our company owns our own servers, which are co-located at data centers in the USA. I was going there to do a bit of 'work' on the servers.

He confirmed I was not going there to 'work' for someone else and that our company has NO office or presence of any type in the USA other than the equipment we own and co-locate there.

He suggested I needed an L1 visa - but that is for an inter-company exchange and we have no presence in the USA.

Since the immigration office could not easily classify me and I was only going to be there for 2 days he let me in under B1 I think it was.

He let me in to do the 'work' but suggested if I came back frequently doing this Immigration might have issues.

Obviously being rejected entry into the USA causes major problems for any future visits, flights transit, vacation etc. etc.

Surely there are many other companies with this exact situation.

I'm looking for suggestions as to what type of Visa I should be entering under if doing that type of thing again?

  • 4
    For clarity, most Canadian citizens do not require any visa at all to enter to the US in most nonimmigrant classifications. Your question, therefore, might be more precisely stated in terms of status classes. But the question is equally applicable to people who do need visas, so it may be best to leave the question as it is. – phoog Nov 26 '17 at 16:16
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    As to the answer to this question, your company really ought to talk to a lawyer. I wouldn't be surprised if the answer is that your company should hire a US citizen or a US-based company for certain tasks. – phoog Nov 26 '17 at 16:18
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    What activities are appropriate for B1 is described in 9 FAM 402.2-5. Unfortunately, it's hard to tell whether what you are doing fits or not. – user102008 Nov 26 '17 at 18:06

The relevant portion of the rules would appear to be:

9 FAM 402.2-5(E)(1)  (U) Commercial or Industrial Workers

(CT:VISA-1;   11-18-2015)

a. (U) An alien coming to the United States to install, service, or repair commercial or industrial equipment or machinery purchased from a company outside the United States or to train U.S. workers to perform such services.  However, in such cases, the contract of sale must specifically require the seller to provide such services or training and the visa applicant must possess specialized knowledge essential to the seller’s contractual obligation to perform the services or training and must receive no remuneration from a U.S. source.

So providing you are performing service engineer type duties that can only be carried out by an employee of your company, on equipment sold from ourside the US, this would seem to be covered.

It would be wise for future trips to get some documentation covering all points above - e.g. see if your sales contract says an employee of your company must carry out service/repair work, for example.

  • For Canadians and Mexicans NAFTA Appendix 1603.A.1 expands the activities that can be done in B1 status. If he has a professional qualification (see appendix 1603.D.1) he's probably good even if the activity doesn't involve a sales contract. To tell the truth he'd probably be otherwise fine if he could just describe what he's doing there for his Canadian employer while avoiding the term "work". – Dennis Nov 27 '17 at 17:19
  • This is describing something different -- this is saying if someone in the US purchased a foreign company's machine, and the foreign company promised the US person to service the machine, the foreign company's foreign employee can come perform service on it for the US person. In the OP's case, nobody purchased anything from their company; rather, the server, owned by his foreign company, is physically hosted in a co-location service in the US, and he needs to be physically there to set up the server. – user102008 Nov 27 '17 at 20:43

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