I am a sole trader and am based in the UK as a freelance kitchen fitter. I have been asked to fit a kitchen for a client in the US. The kitchen is being built in the UK and shipped over. I have fitted kitchens for the manufacturer for around 8 years, which is why my services have been requested. The fit will take a week, is there anyway this can be done on a visa-free visit? Thanks in advance!
I believe this situation is covered by the business visa flyer but as @KateGregory said, actually talking to a lawyer is probably advisable. Here:
Engineer(s) install, service or repair commercial or industrial equipment or machinery sold by a non-U.S. company to a U.S. buyer, when specifically required by the purchase contract.
This is a very specific exception and the only one possibly applying to your situation and while cursory reading would say "hey that's me" there are at least two reasons this does not apply to you:
- You are not an engineer.
- This is neither commercial nor industrial
So my reading of the B1 reasons is that you can't do this.
You want to read http://blog.cyrusmehta.com/2016/05/the-b-1-visa-trap-for-the-tailor-bricklayer-and-tesla-motors.html however.
Besides contacting an immigration lawyer, also call the CBP at 1-202-325-8000. They're the ones checking you on entry to the US and as such they have the final word.
Explain your situation in great detail to them, and ask whether you can enter visa-free or if you need some type of employment visa. If they sound even slightly unsure, ask them to ask their supervisor
Preferably call them two or three times, in case different people were to give different answers (which sometimes does happen)
I believe you cannot do this under VWP or B1/B2 visa. However it is complicated, and I think a consultation with a lawyer or CBP is well advised.
The issue is that you cannot received payment from any US source under a B2 visa. If you were working for a UK kitchen company who had sold the kitchen and were paying you to install it you would be fine. And technically you might argue that you are being paid by your own contracting company (which is being paid by the customer). Unfortunately US laws tend to treat situations like that as if you are being paid directly, and this would make you ineligible.
An immigration officer will look at this and say "is he taking a job that could be done by an American", and the answer is "yes". There is no reason why your customer could not hire a US based contractor to do the job. This is going to make it very hard to justify your admission.
As I say, only a lawyer or CBP are going to give you a definite answer.