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I am a self-taught software developer been working online for a while. I've been building a software for an employee in a company and getting paid through Paypal.

The company now decides to buy the product, employ me full-time (remote) however they'd like me to go for a meeting to the US.

What is the best way to get a visa for it? Should they invite me or write some kind of an invitation letter? Should I apply to it by my-self?

Some info about me:

  • The university I finished is completely another field (will that rise an eyebrow?)

  • I assume they'll cover all my expenses being there.

  • I am a UK citizen but haven't lived there for the past 4 years. Been traveling/working from home in Europe.

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As a UK citizen, you are eligible for Visa Waiver Program entry:

The Visa Waiver Program (VWP) enables most citizens or nationals of participating countries* to travel to the United States for tourism or business for stays of 90 days or less without obtaining a visa.

The permitted activities include:

Business:

  • consult with business associates

All you need to do is apply for an ESTA, book your tickets, and go. No invitation letter or other documentation is necessary.

  • Do you need to bring additional documents with you during travel? – senty Nov 13 '18 at 6:22
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    Nothing. It's dead easy. You state the words "I'm going for a meeting". It is absolutely permitted to go for a meeting! – Fattie Nov 13 '18 at 7:00
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    One small clarification: you might get freaked out by some wording in the VWP that you cannot "seek work in the US". Don't be. That crappy piece of writing is meant to say that you cannot perform paid work in the USA without the appropriate visa (nor seek to do so). You CAN try to get people to hire you legally in the US -- that's totally a valid use of the visa waiver. – Mark_Anderson Nov 13 '18 at 21:52
  • @Mark_Anderson I don't understand this: I cannot seek work, but I can try to get people to hire me? What's the difference? – Fabio Turati Nov 15 '18 at 15:01
  • @FabioTurati It's the difference between being getting a job in the US (not allowed) and getting a job for a US company that will be done in your home country (allowed). Attending meetings is not seen as work by immigration. – Dan Neely Nov 15 '18 at 15:09
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Greg Hewgill's answer is correct, but one caveat: do not talk to the immigration officer about doing any work in the US. A series of business meetings is fine, but the VWP does not allow you to work in the US for money. It is fine to bring your laptop to take notes on at the meeting or to show the immigration officer the work that you are doing (in Europe), but legally you are not allowed to (for example) code for an hourly wage between meetings or in the evenings in your hotel. If you mention you plan to work while in the US, you may be denied entry and possibly will become ineligible for the VWP in the future.

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    Thanks for the heads up! I am not willing to do paid work in my visit, just the meeting – senty Nov 13 '18 at 14:41
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    Let's double-emphasise this answer since one has come up of a similar nature before - the phrasing is important and the word 'work' as in "I am here with work" is likely to cause you trouble even if your intent is obvious. – Tom W Nov 13 '18 at 14:43
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    Yes, indeed. The correct word to use in cases like this is always "business", never "work". – Angew Nov 14 '18 at 10:35

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