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I'm a UK resident. I was granted a B1/B2 after CBP barred me from using the VWP as I was "going to the US too much". I used the VWP to stay 90 days, returned to the UK for 1-2 weeks then returned for another 90 days.

With a B1/B2, if there was a chance my job could take me back to the US, 6 months potentially may not be long enough and an H-1B is out of the question. How long is enough to stay out of the US between 6-month visits? I think I read somewhere I could stay 6 months out of 12 but I absolutely don’t want to mess up my hard-won B1/B2.

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    It seems the general rule of thumb suggested by the US government is to spend no more than half your time in the US, but I can't find a reference at the moment. Note that immigration law is not the only consideration here: if you do spend half your time in the US, or just slightly more than half, you will become a US tax resident, subject to taxation on your worldwide income. Back to immigration law, depending on what you're doing in the US you could be violating B-1 status, so you have to be careful. For example, as a "business visitor" you generally can't sit in the US and write code. – phoog Jul 17 '18 at 16:49
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    @phoog that should be an answer – ajd Jul 17 '18 at 17:04
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    Not an answer to the question about time, but I suggest documenting very carefully what you actually do while in the US, and having that available each time you enter. You may be questioned about whether your activities are allowed on the B1/B2 visa, or require a work visa such as H-1B. – Patricia Shanahan Jul 17 '18 at 17:08
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    +1 to Patricia's comment above - I was pulled out for a secondary interview in the office off to the side of the immigration hall a few years ago when entering on a B1/B2 and questioned about whether my purpose for entering was more in line with an H-1B. I had previously visited the US for about 4 weeks about 4-5 months before this visit. – brhans Jul 17 '18 at 17:54
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    It sounds like you are trying to work in the US on a visitor visa. This is not going to work out in the long term. If your employer is sending you to the US to work, they should be helping you with this. – Michael Hampton Jul 17 '18 at 18:28
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As phoog notes above, the rule of thumb for the visa waiver program is that if you're in the US for X days, you should be outside the US for X+1 days before seeking re-entry. One of our intrepid users got a formal statement from CBP to that effect, and whilst it's specific to ESTA, I see no reason not to think they'd have a similar rule for B1/B2 visas.

Note also that the advice you're getting above about your employer is very sound. We have at least one other case here where someone was required to travel by their employer, but the employer failed to handle it professionally and it all went wrong. The poor employee ended up with a ten-year ban from the UK, and having since changed jobs is having trouble in his current position because the ban prevents him from making a business trip that would otherwise likely be fine.

You may well end up being asked point-blank by a CBP officer whether you're working in the US. What will you say? No? If they determine that's a lie, the US's ban for deception, if memory serves, is for life. Yes, and have a refusal on your record? Your employer seems to be playing fast and loose with your US immigration status.

It's you that ends up with the consequences, not your employer, and those consequences may well blight your life for longer than you have this job. You may wish to consider telling your employer that since you've already been "warned off" by CBP you want this handled properly, by immigration lawyers, so that you can seek the appropriate US visa for the activities the company requires you to perform.

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    +1 for the last point especially. If your employer can afford to send you to the US for the better part of a year, they can afford a consultation with a US immigration lawyer to obtain professional advice. – Zach Lipton Jul 18 '18 at 6:28
  • Hi all. Thanks for all the contributions. I re-read my request and the concerned replies so wanted to clarify: I work as a IT contractor in the UK and am v.experienced so earn a very healthy day rate. When I said my work may will send me to the US, I only meant it from a funding perspective as I’m at an age when working 12 months a year is getting tiring after 35+ years as a professional. My thought was work here in the UK, get a pot of cash together & spend 6 months in SoCal or somewhere similarly warm year-round. Then come back here to the UK & do the same again as I typically rent in the UK – Jason Phillips Jul 22 '18 at 18:43

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