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US B-1 in lieu of H-1B visa

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B-1 in lieu of H-1B Visa faster alternative to the US L-1 and H-1B visa

It is usually, expensive and difficult to obtain non-immigrant temporary work visas such as the H-1B visa for graduate level staff or intra-company transfer visas such as the L-1A visa for managers and executives or L-1B visa for specialized knowledge employees.   The B1 in lieu of H1B visa grants entry usually for multiple entries for up to a year for a short term work need in the US. Usually the work is done based on a contract between the US company and the overseas business.   The US company could be in the same group of companies as the overseas company.

The H-1B visa is oversubscribed about three times over in the beginning of April each year to start in October in the same year. Therefore the likelihood of success is low.

The L-1A or L-1B visa requires the applicant to have worked for the overseas business for at least one year in the last three years. The overseas business must have a subsidiary, parent, branch or affiliate office in the US. It is frequently not possible to meet these requirements.

The E-2 Treaty Investor visa or E-1 Treaty Trader visa requires the business to first be registered which can be a time consuming and difficult process. In addition only certain nationalities can apply for this visa.

In some circumstances for graduate level employees it may be worth looking at the B-1 in lieu of H-1B visa instead of some of the longer term work visas. If you wish to send people over to the US for work quickly in a matter of weeks and the work is the sort of work you would expect to be done by a graduate level employee this visa is worth considering.

This provision is useful when a non-US company wishes to send a member of staff to the US for a limited period in order to undertake specific projects for clients, or where you wish to bring in an employee of an overseas subsidiary, affiliate or parent for a limited period. The requirements for acquiring a B1 in lieu of H1B visa are as follows:

B-1 in lieu of H-1B Visa Requirements

  • The work to be undertaken in the US must be H1B level – i.e. the skilled worker must be engaged in a 'speciality occupation' in graduate level work usually requiring at least a bachelors degree or equivalent;
  • The worker will usually need to be a permanent employee of the non US business and must continue to be paid by the employer outside the US while in the US on a B-1 in lieu of H-1B visa;
  • The worker most remain on the payroll of the overseas business.  The worker may receive no compensation other than an expense allowance from a US source;
  • The graduate level worker must have at least a bachelors degree. Ideally the bachelors degree should be relevant to the services to be provided – in some circumstances work experience and other qualifications may be considered to be equivalent to a degree.

B-1 in lieu of H-1B Visa Documentation Requirements

The B-1 in lieu of H-1B visa can usually be obtained within a few weeks, and requires considerably more supporting documentation compared to a normal B-1 business visitor visa. Periods of admission and extension are usually the same as for the standard B-1 business visitor visa (i.e. generally 6 months).

Typical documentation for a B-1 in lieu of H-1B visa application include copy of bachelors degree for the applicant, rental agreement for the applicant, company accounts, payroll records, curriculum vitae, bank statements, contract with the US business, etc.

B-1 in lieu of H-1B Procedures on entry to the US

It should be noted that in rare circumstances, holders of this visa encounters problems when trying to enter the US.

This is because while it is issued by a US Consulate or Embassy, some US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) visa officers may not appreciate that the B-1 in lieu of H-1B visa is different to the B-1 business visitor visa. It is advisable to have full documentation relating to the visa application available on entry to the US.