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I'm a British Citizen. I've spoken at business conferences in the past in the US, but haven't been paid for speaking. This is acceptable under the Visa Waiver Program.

Let's say that one day I am offered the opportunity to be paid a fee for speaking, over and above the incidental costs of travel/hotel.

A B-1 business visa doesn't cover it, it appears. So what is actually required?

On reading up about this, it's fine to be paid US$8,000 for speaking if you're a childrens' book writer from a VWP country; I'm a bit confused by the outcome of this story.

  • A good read for the other way around: travel.stackexchange.com/questions/77241/… – Hanky Panky Feb 28 '18 at 3:29
  • Cheers: it's a good read, but irrelevant, sadly. As you might guess from the title of this question, I'm asking it the other way round! :) – jamescridland Feb 28 '18 at 5:31
  • That's why it was a comment, and not an answer... good read, not quite an answer. – Bruno Guardia Apr 17 '18 at 1:15
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Your confusion arises because Mem Fox's honorarium was paid by a nonprofit organization. Such payments are allowed for B-1 visitors only if they are paid by nonprofit organizations, government organizations, or institutions of higher education, which I presume the organizers of your "business" conferences are not. This is specified at 8 USC 1182(q):

(q) Academic honoraria

Any alien admitted under section 1101(a)(15)(B) of this title may accept an honorarium payment and associated incidental expenses for a usual academic activity or activities (lasting not longer than 9 days at any single institution), as defined by the Attorney General in consultation with the Secretary of Education, if such payment is offered by an institution or organization described in subsection (p)(1) and is made for services conducted for the benefit of that institution or entity and if the alien has not accepted such payment or expenses from more than 5 institutions or organizations in the previous 6-month period.

(p)(1) has to do with computing wage levels so it doesn't make sense to quote it in full here, but the organizations and institutions it describes are

(A) an institution of higher education (as defined in section 1001(a) of title 20), or a related or affiliated nonprofit entity; or

(B) a nonprofit research organization or a Governmental research organization,

  • Thanks for the response. I understand that academic work is accepted. What I don't understand is what is required if it is NOT for a research or academic organization. Seemingly, none of the visa categories are acceptable. – jamescridland Apr 18 '18 at 23:19
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Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer

With relevant restrictions on who is paying an honorarium and how long is the engagement, among others, I found some sources that indicate B1 status may be enough.

https://travel.state.gov/content/dam/visas/BusinessVisa%20Purpose%20Listings%20March%202014%20flier.pdf (https://travel.state.gov/content/dam/visas/BusinessVisa%20Purpose%20Listings%20March%202014%20flier.pdf)

B-1 Honoraria for Academic Activities 67 FR 37727 (May 30, 2002) (https://www.ilw.com/articles/2002,0703-Liao.shtm)

  • Thanks, Bruno. What I don't understand is what is involved if I am NOT speaking for an academic organization. Here's an example of someone being refused entry because she's being paid to speak at a conference; which I understand. But what visa is required, and is it possible to get that simply and easily? It appears not. – jamescridland Apr 18 '18 at 23:15
  • Agree, It appears for such case, you would need a work visa, which as you say, is not easy. – Bruno Guardia Apr 24 '18 at 16:49
  • It's more than "not easy" - it's impossible, it seems. I'm not going to be employed by anyone, after all. It seems the work visa is inappropriate here. – jamescridland Apr 25 '18 at 23:18
  • Without employment, you are right, it's impossible. But that is why foreign companies set subsidiaries for – Bruno Guardia Apr 27 '18 at 1:10
  • But this isn't an employment. It's a one-off piece of work, often for a few thousand dollars and that's it. Frustrating. – jamescridland Apr 28 '18 at 10:05

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