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I'm a freelancer currently working remotely for a US client. They'd like me to stay with them for a short amount of time (1-2 weeks). Purpose of this trip is to attend meetings and work there for the duration of my stay.

Would this be possible with a B1 visa? Or would it require the H1B?

I was also thinking of taking a few weeks off and extending my stay for pleasure, could this be done on either of these visas?

  • Are you employed directly by the US client (ie: did you have to fill out a W-8BEN form?), or do you work for (and are being paid by) a company in your own country that has sold services to your US client? The details of your relationship with the client matter. – J... Mar 26 '18 at 12:04
  • I should have mentioned, I'm self-employed. I work through a company of which I am the owner of. – potorr Mar 26 '18 at 13:53
  • A very similar question is, "I am a Eurotrash, I am going to the USA for a few weeks to sit around in cafes and do my usual freelance work. Can I go on a normal tourist visa?" The fact is (1) 100 million people a year do this, they simply say they are going "for tourism" and don't mention they'll actually be programming 14 hours a day, and (2) in theory you cannot really do this. But 100 million people a year do it. It's not a "gray" area, it's a "just say it's tourism" area. :O – Fattie Oct 4 '18 at 19:14
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Purpose of this trip is to attend meetings and work there for the duration of my stay. Would this be possible with a B1 visa?

This is kind of a grey area as B1 visas are supposed to be used for business, but there isn't a precise definition of what "business" is. Washing someone's car is definitely not a form of doing business. Attending a meeting is usually business. But what about doing some coding after the meeting is over? That's where the grey area begins.

But as a general rule you should be okay. Simply make sure to never mention the word "work" when you arrive in front of an immigration officer in the US. Say you are there for meetings, team building, discussion of projects, etc, but not "work". Presumably that's the truth in your case - you are only going to visit the US to do things which are hard to resolve remotely.

Source: visiting the US on a B1 visa to meet with colleagues.

I was also thinking of taking a few weeks off and extending my stay for pleasure, could this be done on either of these visas?

If you're admitted as a B1 visitor you may also engage in tourist activities. No extra visas are required for that purpose.

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    Is this correct? It certainly would be if the asker worked for and was being paid by a non-US company, but the asker is proposing to work for and be paid by a US company. I was under the impression that this isn't allowed on a B-visa. – David Richerby Mar 26 '18 at 11:04
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    This is dicey advice. We don't currently know enough to suggest the correct course of action for OP. Getting this wrong can result in serious trouble. – J... Mar 26 '18 at 12:05
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    Being a freelance contractor is very different from being an employee of some corporation who normally works in country X but is briefly visiting the USA (regardless of whether the corporation is headquartered in the USA). – David Richerby Mar 26 '18 at 13:38
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    @potorr That said, IANAL, and sometimes the foreign-employee-wearing-a-"company"-umbrella scheme doesn't always play out with authorities. Depending on the circumstances and the type of work you do you may still be considered an employee due to the specifics of your relationship, even if you have put a company hat on yourself. I'm not sure what the specific rules are in the US regarding this. – J... Mar 26 '18 at 14:19
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    I was in exactly the same situation as the OP for about 10 years. I owned my own company and had a customer in the USA, who I visited occasionally, typically for between 1 and 4 weeks at a time, paid for by the US company and I had a B1 visa to do so. As already noted, avoid mention of 'working' in the US - you're 'doing business', 'attending meetings', 'negotiating contracts', etc ... My first trip was viewed with some suspicion by the visa officer (and i was only granted a short-term visa for the exact dates I had requested), but following visas were issued for 2 years, followed by 10 years. – brhans Mar 26 '18 at 18:47
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  • The relationship with your client is totally irrelevant

  • Where and when you get paid is totally irrelevant

  • Whether you own or do not own your own business is totally irrelevant

  • Whether the client is paying you, or your business, is totally irrelevant

  • Whether the company is a US company or a foreign company is irrelevant (it's quite common to meet, say, your Japanese client in the US for some reason)

The ONLY THING that is relevant is this:

If you are there for MEETINGS

you are totally OK. That is the very purpose of the visa.

If you are there for "work"

you cannot do that.

That's all there is to it.

Thus you literally said:

Purpose of this trip is to attend meetings and work there for the duration of my stay.

If on arrival you say the words "I'm here to work for two weeks" the officer will roll his eyes, mumble "why did you say that" and send you home to Europe.

If on arrival you say the words "I'm here to meet my client Massive Engineering for a couple weeks" he'll just wave you in, like the other 60% of people on the plane in the identical situation.

That's the deal.

Note that anyone who has actually done this (and vast numbers of folks do) will explain this to you. For example, see the excellent example by @brahms in the comments.


Yes, in reality you'll probably do some "work" while you're there. 100.000% of people do this. It's not as if you will sit there and say "I can't open my laptop and do one line of code". In fact, you actually can't open your laptop and do one line of code, as that is "work", by the letter. But the reality is everyone does that. If you're only talking a couple weeks now and then, that's how it goes down.

  • I love your unorthodox style of writing answers. Your answers have personality. – Hanky Panky Oct 4 '18 at 18:10
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    That's a very kind thing to say, thanks @HankyPanky !! – Fattie Oct 4 '18 at 19:11

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