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I am employed by a US company but live and work in the UK. I also get paid into a UK bank account. Can I travel to the US with an ESTA and remain under the VWP for business meetings or short term work in the U?

marked as duplicate by CMaster, Gayot Fow, Willeke, blackbird, JoErNanO May 12 '16 at 11:54

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  • Jim if for "meetings", no problem at all. If you went there and literally worked for two months (in the normal working-at-a-desk way) that would NOT be allowed but its' worth noting that vast numbers of people (improperly) do this - however, some do get caught or refused entry. If you're going for say two weeks for "lots and lots of meetings" - it's a gray area right? You should state how long you're going for. – Fattie May 12 '16 at 11:30
  • I think this question can't be answered in general without more information than is given. Is your work skilled or technical labor, that might qualify for an H-1B visa if you worked in the US? And does your company have an office in the UK (or elsewhere) from which your salary is paid, rather than being paid directly from the US? If the answer to both of these is "yes" then according to 9 FAM 402.2-5(F) a B1 (or VWP) is suitable for many things you might do while temporarily in the US. If not then what you are doing there matters much more. – Dennis May 12 '16 at 14:42
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The answer would appear to be no.

The US State department offers this flier on business travel to the US suitable for the B-1 Visa (and by extension the VWP) on their website about the VWP. While some of the activities you describe (meetings etc) would fall under the B-1, there is always the note of "no income from a US-based company", which you will be receiving.

Looking at the list of work visas to the US, I think the L-visa would be suitable, however it seems more foucssed on those who will remain in the US longer term, not just making short visits.

You should get your employer to contact an immigration specialist/lawyer and determine what you should be doing (and if a professional's advice contradicts mine, beleive the professional). Do not be easily dismissed by your employer to "oh, just come here anyway". If you are judged as breaking the rules, it is you who will face consequences (never being able to enter the USA without a visa again, treated with more suspicion by immigration authorities of countries that the US shares information with), while your employer is unlikley to face any consequences.

  • Hi, thanks for the swift reply. If I am travelling just for a business meeting and will be in the US for less than 7 days will the B1 Visa work as long as I am not getting paid "any extra money just expenses" for the trip? – Jim May 12 '16 at 10:14
  • If you see the question I marked as a duplicate, you'll see the answer there disagrees with mine. I'd seriously say consult a specialist here. You could try reaching out to the State Department or the US Embassy directly as well - they both have contact lines. – CMaster May 12 '16 at 10:15
  • I've just sent a request to the local US Embassy located in Belfast. I'll post their reply when I get it. – Jim May 12 '16 at 10:30
  • @Jim If this question is closed by then, consider posting it (with details of how, if at all, your situation differs) on the duplicate question. – CMaster May 12 '16 at 10:31
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    @Jim are you really employed by a US company? If your pay comes from a UK subsidiary of your US employer then it is not US-source income. For example, Microsoft employees in the UK are not actually employed by a US company. – phoog May 12 '16 at 14:29

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