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Law Office of Joseph C. Grasmick --Business Immigration--
Established in 1979

B-1 Business Visitor-Quick Immigration Permit for Canadian Business Needs

Today, companies have to go further and further afield to find a candidate with the experience, energy, drive and spirit of adventure needed to set a young company's course and build it into a successful enterprise. ---Korn/Ferry International, Five Steps To Attract Top Start-up Talent.

Section numbers correspond to the print version of the Canada-U.S. Business Immigration Handbook.

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Introduction to This Page

95% + of all Canadians coming to the U.S. to do business, use the quick and easy B-1 permit. Although the activities of a B-1 visitor are limited, it is the only permit most Canadians will ever need.

Like the L-1 and TN, Canadians can get the B-1 right at the border. You may wish to consider the services our office can provide, for the more difficult B-1 cases. Otherwise, we hope that the information on this page will allow you to make many trouble-free border crossings.

This page contains section references that may not be on this web site. You can find the corresponding text for all Chapter and Section references, in the full text version of the Canada-U.S. Business Immigration Handbook. You can order on-line directly from the publisher, Carswell Thomson Professional Publishing.

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3.1 B-1 status: Temporary visitor for business.

B-1 at a Glance
Main procedural step: No work permit needed; no prior application.
Initial duration of status: One year maximum/trip (NAFTA)
Total time-limit on the category: No time cap.
Processing time: Instant approval.
Major advantage: Quick; little paperwork.
Major disadvantage: Limits type of work done in U.S.

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(a) Introduction to B-1 Status

Acquiring B-1 status is perhaps the simplest way to enter the United States for the purpose of temporary and intermittent business activities. It is an especially abbreviated process for business people with Canadian citizenship.

B-1 status permits a Canadian business person to conduct a wide range of business-related activities in the United States. There are also many grey areas of permissible activities. Finally, there are activities clearly in violation of this status. This section details requirements for B-1 status as they pertain to Canadians.

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(b) Requirements for B-1 status

(i) Must leave the United States when work is completed

The business or work to be preformed in the United States must be on a strictly temporary basis. This means that each entry must be temporary and that the overall purpose of the multiple trips to be made is also temporary.

Joe Grasmick showing a client the three ways to obtain B-1 status.
Choices: Joe Grasmick shows a client the three ways to get B-1 status.

To prove the temporary nature of this trip or trips, the B-1 visitor must maintain his or her Canadian residence for the duration of the stay in the United States. There must be no intent to abandon that residence while under B-1 status. Evidence of strong family, business, or property ties is helpful in demonstrating the requisite intent.

(1) Document necessary to prove requirements

  • Deed to home
  • Names and addresses of close family members remaining in Canada
  • Bank and investment account statements
  • Letter from Canadian employer [see B-1 application guidelines, section (i), 2 g), h)]

(ii) Must perform services for non-U.S. employer

The B-1 visitor for business must be entering the United States to perform services for a foreign company. For example, a sales person may enter the United States to solicit orders for a foreign company. He or she could also intend to make a market study regarding the future business in the United States.

The B-1 visitor must not be entering as an executive or manager travelling to the United States to actively manage operations of a U.S. branch. These people are often denied entry even when they intend to spend only a few days per week or month in the United States.


Solution: Show that the U.S. company is not yet set up. You cannot apply for a visa because you do not yet have an ongoing U.S. employer to hire you. In fact, the INS allows people who would eventually qualify for L-1 status [section 3.4] into the United States under B-1 status if the company does not yet have physical premises. The same is true of potential E-2 applicants [section 3.3B], where the investment is not yet set up.

(1) Document Necessary to Prove Requirement

  • Letter from Canadian employer [Guidelines, section (i), 2 c) d)]

(iii) Must be compensated from source outside of the United States

The source of payment for services and expenses of a B-1 businessperson in the United States must come from outside the country. The B-1 business visitor may not receive salary or payment in any form from a U.S. source.

Similarly, the B-1 visitor should not receive commissions for his or her U.S. duties, and remuneration should not be tied to the accomplishment of the U.S. efforts. In short, payment should be made by the Canadian company, in Canadian funds, and drawn on a Canadian bank.

(1) Document Necessary to Prove Requirement

  • Letter from Canadian employer [Guidelines, section (i), 2 e)]

(iv) Must be entering to perform acceptable B-1 duties

The B-1 visitor for business must not be entering to perform productive tasks that could be carried out by local U.S. workers. This is a difficult requirement to define and might depend on the judgment of the officer at the port of entry.

Individuals in the United States on B-1 status may consult with business associates, attorneys, or accountants, participate in professional or business conventions, and negotiate contracts or seek investment opportunities. Entering to make purchases for export is acceptable. The B-1 business visitor may also buy personal or real property in the United States.

The following business activities can be performed in the United States by a Canadian citizen with B-1 status under Schedule 1 of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA):

  • Research and design, including technical, scientific, and statistical research.
  • Growth, manufacturing, and production, including harvest owners supervising harvesting crews and purchasing and production management personnel conducting commercial transactions.
  • Marketing, including market researchers and analysts and trade fair and promotional personnel attending trade conventions.
  • Sales, including sales representatives and agents taking orders and negotiating contracts for goods or services, but not delivering goods or providing services; buyers purchasing for an enterprise located in Canada.
  • Distribution, including transportation operators delivering to, or loading and transporting from, Canada or the United States, with no intermediate loading or delivery within the United States; customs brokers performing brokerage duties associated with the export of goods.
  • After-sales service, including installers, repair and maintenance personnel, and supervisors possessing specialized knowledge essential to the seller's contractual obligation, performing services or training workers to perform such services pursuant to a warranty or other service contract incidental to the sale of commercial or industrial equipment or machinery, including computer software purchased from an enterprise located outside the country, during the life of the warranty or service agreement.


Cancorp is relocating much of its manufacturing to the U.S. They transfer manufacturing machines to their U.S. facilities. The company who sold the machinery to Cancorp in Canada (Sales Corp.) services the equipment. Cancorp needs the services of employees of Sales Corp. to maintain the proper functioning of their machinery.

Solution: An employee of Sales Corp. obtains a B-1 visa for one year. The employee can continue to perform services on the machinery in the U.S. based upon an after-sales service warranty, even though the sale was made within the corporate group.

(1) General Service Personnel Granted B-1 Status:

  • Professionals who would be eligible for H status but who receive no payment from a source within the United States.
  • Management and supervisory personnel engaging in commercial transactions for an enterprise located in Canada.
  • Computer specialists who would otherwise qualify for H status but who receive no payment from a U.S. source.
  • Financial services personnel engaging in commercial transactions for enterprises located in Canada.
  • Public relations and advertising personnel consulting with business associates or attending conventions.
  • Tourism personnel attending conventions or conducting tours that began in Canada.
  • Translators or interpreters performing services as employees of a Canadian enterprise.

An additional group of Canadian professionals eligible for B-1 status are also eligible for TN classification under NAFTA [section 3.2B]. Such professionals can enter the United States by providing documentation demonstrating that they are engaged in one of the professions designated in NAFTA.

(2) Document Necessary to Prove Requirement

  • Letter from Canadian employer [Guidelines, section (i), 2 b), f)]

(v) Ownership of the employing company must be located outside of the United States

To qualify for B-1 status, the employing entity must have non-U.S. ownership. In other words, profit from the B-1 status activities in the United States must accrue outside of that country.

(1) Document Necessary to Prove Requirement

  • Letter from Canadian employer [Guidelines, section (i) 2 c)]

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© 2000 Carswell Thomson Limited
Law Office of Joseph C. Grasmick, Business Immigration
Olympic Towers 300 Pearl Street Suite 200
Buffalo, New York 14202 USA
Tel: 716/842-3100 Fax: 716/842-3105 jgrasmick@grasmick.com

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