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September 9, 2017

B-1 Visa/B-2 Visa Transfers – Fact or Fiction?

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One of the most common questions we get from business visitors or tourists is whether they can convert their current business visa (such as a B-1 Visa or B-2 Visa) to a work visa (such as, for example, an H-1 B or H-2B Visa).

B-1 VisaOne of the most common questions we get from business visitors or tourists is whether they can convert their current business visa (such as a B-1 Visa or B-2 Visa) to a work visa (such as, for example, an H-1 B or H-2B Visa).

In our last blog, we explained that a B-1n Visa or B-2 Visa allows a foreign national to come temporarily to the US for business or leisure, but prohibits the visa holder from working in the US.

US laws have anticipated situations where foreign nationals on a B-1 Visa or B-2 Visa might find work in the US, and set some grounds for these B-1 Visa or B-2 Visa holders to be eligible for a change of status that would allow them to legally work in the US.

Let’s explore these conditions:

 

  • What B1 Visa or B2 Visa holder can apply for a employment-based change of status?

B-1 Visa Applications

If you hold a B1 Visa or a B2 Visa, you may apply for a change of status if:

  • Your visa is still valid; and;
  • You have not violated the conditions of your status. For example by working in the US without work authorization; and;
  • You have not committed any crimes that would make you ineligible to receive an immigration benefit; and;
  • You submit a request with US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) on the appropriate form, before the expiration of your authorization of stay.

As a supplemental condition, your passport must be valid for the entire period for which you request the work permit.

 

  • How can a B1 Visa or a B2 Visa holder change his/her status to a work visa?

 

To change your status to an employment-based visa, your future employer must file a I-539 petition for nonimmigrant worker status on your behalf before the expiration of your B-1 Visa or B-2 Visa.

B-1 VisaBy filling the I-539 form, your prospective employer establishes that:

  • You will be performing the type of work covered by the elected category of work visa.  For example E, L1, H1, H2, H3, O visas and other employment-based visas, and;
  • You meet the requirements for changing your status.

Additionally, you must meet the requirements of the type of visa for which the request for change of status is made.

There are a few important issues you may come across when requesting a change of status from a B-1 Visa or B-2 Visa to a work visa:

  • The USCIS may issue you a Request For Evidence (RFE), which is a demand for additional information to proceed the application. The justification for an RFE is that prior to be granted access to the US on a B-1/B-2 visa, you must prove that you intend to return to your country. US immigration services might want to know the reason behind the request for a change of status.
  • The application process for many types of work visas takes too long to ultimately be beneficial to B-1 Visa or B-2 Visa holders. The B visa, in some cases, would expire before the work authorization is granted, making the change of status a non-viable option.

In any event, you should carefully review available options before opting for a change of status.
We can help you decide the best strategy for navigating your transferring of a business visa to a work visa, or any of your business immigration requirements.  Contact us at info@prewittlawfirm.com or (+1) 646 583 1206.

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