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The cbp.gov website doesn't have clear instructions on who is considered a resident vs visitor for customs purposes.

There is limited information online regarding the same. Can somebody please clarify?

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Similar to Doc, while living in the USA and having an H1B visa I have always chosen the 'Resident' option when entering the country.

After all, I am a resident for tax purposes and I am not required to maintain a residential address in my country of origin while living & working in the USA.

With regard to your other question posted as a comment to Doc's answer - no the primary purpose of your visit is not business.

When you're on an H1B and employed by a USA company, you're not 'conducting business' in the USA any more than Mr Joe Bloggs American is conducting business when he goes to work.

If you were a foreign business person entering on a B visa in order to visit an American company who is a customer of yours (for example) then this would be 'conducting business' and in this case you would choose 'yes' for that question.

  • I've just asked a CBP officer about the meaning of "conducting business" -- whether being an employee counts as "conducting business" or it's to do with running a company or making international business deals or something. He personally ticked the "Business" box on my form. So definitely, being employed in the USA is "conducting business" for the purposes of the blue 6059B form. – Evgeni Sergeev Feb 1 '18 at 20:01
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Personally I have always answered "Resident", and on the one or two occasions that I've asked the immigration staff about this they confirmed that this was the correct answer.

(I'm not on a H-1B, but a visa that is functionally equivalent as far as this question goes)

Technically whilst in the US on a H-1B you are a "Temporary Resident", as distinct from (for example) a Green Card holder which would be a "Permanent Resident".

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    @Sri the primary purpose of your trip was vacation, so "no." – phoog Jan 16 '17 at 16:01
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    @phoog Isn't the question on "primary purpose" about why you're entering the US? Not the trip you were just on. – mkennedy Jan 16 '17 at 18:06
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    @mkennedy Not if you're a US resident. The question is about whatever trip you're taking right now. If you live in the US and you're coming back home from a tourist vacation, your trip is not a business trip, even though the reason you are coming back home is to go back to your job. – Zach Lipton Jan 16 '17 at 18:57
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    What @phoog said is correct - for a resident it's the primary purpose of the trip you're returning from. I used to always answer "No" on the logic that my returning to the US wasn't for business (it was me travelling home), but one day an immigration officer told me that was incorrect and changed it to "yes" on the grounds that my trip out of the US was for business. – Doc Jan 17 '17 at 0:15
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    @mkennedy as a US citizen who resides in the US, I also have to answer that question when I come home. I answer it based on the purpose of the trip from which I am returning. It seems to me that the same would be true of any resident returning to the US, regardless of citizenship or immigration status. – phoog Jan 17 '17 at 0:35

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