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I work remotely from my home country for a US-based company. Definitely that company is not registered in my home country.

Now, my employer wants to meet with me in person. What would be best explanation for this situation if I am applying for a B-1 visa?

  • A lot of the answers below say how to answer, without having validated with you that those answers are true. Per some posts I have seen on this site, If you get caught in lie it will likely be the last time you ever get a chance to visit the US. If your current employer can't get you into the country without lies, decide if the risk of never visiting again is worth it. – James Jenkins Feb 12 at 17:49
  • Hello! In the title you mention that you'd like to visit your "employer". Are you certain you are an employee and not a freelance contractor/consultant working for the company? The exact wording on your contract will greatly affect the course of action you'll need to take, as explained in the answers below. If your working relationship with the company is indeed that of a contractor (and not an employee), could you please correct the title to avoid confusion? – undercat Feb 13 at 7:07
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State (supposing it is true) that the purpose of your visit is to have meetings to plan and coordinate ongoing work you're performing for the employer in your home country.

This is a permissible activity for a business visitor, whereas actually doing the work would not be. So be sure not to give the impression that you'll be doing "productive labor" during your visit.


At least this would unambiguously be the case if you were employed by a foreign subsidiary of the US company. If the US company is paying you directly, things are unfortunately a bit less certain, because some statements of the test for "business visitor" require that the alien's salary must come from abroad. On the other hand, other statements say that this is satisfied if you're paid after you return home. In any case, your best bet is to tell it like it is in the visa application. If they don't allow you in, you want to find that out at the visa application stage rather than when you reach the border at a US airport.

(As one anecdotal data point, when I have arrived at the border and declared my intent to be "one week of meetings at my employer's [city] office", I haven't been asked to explain legal arrangements between me and said employer. On the other hand, I'm a white VWP traveler, and it is possible that visa nationals are given greater scrutiny, even though the formal requirements are the same between the VWP and B-1/2).

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    "some statements of the test for business visitor require that the alien's salary must come from abroad" - from my experience the key word the visa/immigration officers want to hear in such situations is that you're an independent consultant located in your home country, contracted by a US company to do some work for them remotely, who needs to discuss some business-related issues in person. Granted, one may be asked to prove you're a one-person business during the visa interview with bank statements, tax reports etc. (Nice answer, just felt like commenting on that bit.) – undercat Feb 11 at 21:52
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    When i was in this situation I was careful to avoid the word "employer " – smithkm Feb 12 at 5:43
7

As stated in other answers, it's important to say that you're visiting for meetings and not to carry out any actual work.

From personal experience, as a contractor who travels frequently to the US to meet with clients, I was once given a very tough grilling by a US immigration officer who asked me the details of my contractual arrangement, whether my own company (through which I contract) had any employees in the US, whether I'd be doing any paid work, how I came to be working for these clients, how I got paid by them, etc. He asked to see my business card to verify I was indeed an independent contractor and not an employee of a US company.

Be prepared to answer lots of very detailed questions about your relationship with this company, how and where you work for them, and how they pay you.

0

Never use the term employer (unless you really are a salaried employee)

State that you are visiting a client of your consulting business.

update (because of negative comments) It is highly unlikely you actually have an employer-employee relationship in the same terms as viewed by the IRS. However, especially for people for whom English is not their primary language, it is common to refer to my boss or my employer in conversation.

In the formal context of answering visas, use the simplest and least-likely-to-be-misinterpreted answer.

Similarly when talking to immigration officials - be very careful of your precise words because they have some trigger phrases.

You do not have to have a formal local corporation to be an independent business with a client in the USA. Different jurisdictions have entirely different legal interpretations - be very aware of yours and any areas which are loosely defined.

I have worked remotely for many US clients. At different times I have had different local Australian corporate structures. I have often only ever had the one regular client with a person I regarded as my boss but was always clear that they are legally not an employer.

Good luck getting things organised before the next US government shutdown!

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    Seems like lying, and lying is a very bad thing to do if it comes to applying for a visa. If you claim you have a business, they might want your own company name or your ´real´ employer. This is just asking for trouble. Could you elaborate why to never use the term employer? – Mixxiphoid Feb 12 at 10:09
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    Pretending to be an independent contractor when you're actually not is a very foolish idea. – Graham Borland Feb 12 at 10:55
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    I got sent home to the UK by US immigration when I told them I was visiting a consulting client, even though it was just a courtesy visit to discuss a project that had been completed and the possibility of starting another similar project. The key factor was that I had a contract with the client that involved them paying me. It was probably also a factor that it was my fifth visit to the US in a year. – Michael Kay Feb 12 at 11:55
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    @undercat OP explicitly days "employer". – Graham Borland Feb 12 at 12:55
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    -1 - in my mind, this is an unsalvageable answer - because, fundamentally, it is bad advice; lying to immigration is never a good idea. In OP's case, there's not even a reason to lie - even if it raises a few flags, his use case is typical for a B-1 visa and more importantly, completely legal and legitimate. – osuka_ Feb 12 at 16:42

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