I'm planning to be in the United States several times over the next few years (mostly visiting my wife's family). I will be working remotely for my employer in New Zealand, as well as taking some holiday. As I understand it, the B2 tourist visa allows this.

My question is, if my employer asks me to attend a meeting with their corporate parent, or one of their partners in the USA, is this still allowed? No such meeting has been suggested, and I won't even be in the same state, but I'd like to know what the possibilities are if it does come up.

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    What country are you from? For most countries the US will actually issue a B1/B2 visa, which can be used for either business or tourism. – Doc Oct 1 '19 at 21:26
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    My understanding of the B-2 visa is that it does not permit remote work for a foreign employer. It's not particularly clear, but I wouldn't risk it. If you're not planning to stay for longer than 90 days at any one time, you can consider using the VWP instead, which carries the same restrictions on activities that a B-1 or B-2 visa has. – phoog Oct 1 '19 at 22:26
  • @Doc New Zealand – Rupert Morrish Oct 2 '19 at 0:19
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    @RupertMorrish Why do you need a visa? New Zealand citizens can generally travel without a visa under the Visa Waiver Program – Doc Oct 2 '19 at 7:07

There are several points to make here.

First is that if you are a new Zealand citizen you do not need a visa to visit the US for tourism or business purposes. You can use the Visa Waiver Program to visit for up to 90 days.

Second is that the US mostly issues a combined B1/B2 visa, which allows for both tourism and business visits, if you request either a tourism or a business visa. In any case if you say you are visiting for both tourism and business they will issue the combined visa.

Thirdly if you are on the VWP, or a combined B1/B2 visa it is perfectly OK to have some meetings with a parent company or a partner. You would need to tell the agent at the border that you are having business meetings, so that you are admitted on B1/B2 status.

You will need to be careful, because while business meetings are permitted, actual work is not. You can plan work, discuss work, review work, but not actually do work. This is important - people have been turned away at the border because they told the officer "I'm coming to do some work for my parent company" instead of "I'm coming to have some meetings with my parent company".

  • "In any case if you say you are visiting for both tourism and business they will issue the combined visa": this seems to imply that a combined visa is necessary for trips that combine tourism with business, which is not correct. On each visit, the traveler is given either B-1 or B-2 status, just as a VWP visitor is given either WB or WT status. Strictly speaking, a B-2 or WT visitor should not engage in business activities. A combination B-1/B-2 visa allows entry in either status, but if the bearer is admitted in B-2 status the conditions are the same as if it were a simple B-2 visa. – phoog Oct 2 '19 at 15:22
  • @phoog Wasn't aware of that. Do B1 and B2 visas both allow tourism and business? – DJClayworth Oct 2 '19 at 15:24
  • See my expanded comment. In addition, business visitors are allowed incidental pleasure activities. I'm not aware of a corresponding incidental business activities provision for pleasure visitors, but there's probably some leeway. Does that answer your question? – phoog Oct 2 '19 at 15:29
  • Yes. Can a B1 (only) holder be admitted with B2 status and vice versa? – DJClayworth Oct 2 '19 at 15:32
  • No. The main reason people get non-combined visas, as far as I can tell, is that for a small number of countries the reciprocity arrangements differ for business and pleasure travelers, so if someone is coming for (e.g.) tourism, and they can get a B-2 visa with greater validity or a smaller reciprocity fee than the combination visa, then the consulate will issue the non-combined B-2 visa. Allowing such a person to enter in B-1 status would frustrate the visa reciprocity regime. – phoog Oct 2 '19 at 15:44

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