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Information on B-1 Visa

The B-1 Visitor for Business visa classification may be used by scholars coming to the United States for temporary stays (generally less than six months) to participate in scientific, educational, professional, or business conventions/ conferences, or to undertake independent research. A B-1 Business Visitor may not accept full-time, part-time, or temporary teaching or research positions or other employment for which they are paid by a United States institution.

A United States employer may legally provide the B-1 visitor with a subsistence allowance (per diem) or reimbursement for travel and living expenses. At MIT, a B-1 visitor may be given a short-term, non-salaried appointment provided that these guidelines are followed. WB classification, granted as part of the Visa Waiver Program, has similar guidelines.

An honorarium may be paid to an individual in either B-1 or WB visa status for 'usual academic activities' under certain circumstances. For the honorarium payment to be permitted, the academic activity must not last longer than nine days and the individual may not have accepted similar payments from more than five institutions during the previous six months. MIT's interpretation of this section of the Act [INA Section 212(8 U.S.C. 1182)(q)] is that honoraria payments are limited to a maximum of six visits in a six-month period, each visit lasting no longer than nine days, at MIT and/or other institutions.

MIT's Office of the Comptroller is required to withhold 30% of the honorarium payment for tax purposes. If the individual wishes to claim tax treaty benefits, he/she must have a social security or taxpayer identification number.

A person requesting a B-1 visa at an United States Embassy or Consulate abroad must present a letter of invitation from MIT. It is at the discretion of the Consul to decide whether or not to grant any visa, therefore, success cannot be guaranteed. The invitation letter must state the purpose of the visit, the dates of the visit, and also that no salary will be paid by MIT. [If the visitor will be receiving an honorarium, the visit may not exceed nine days. The letter should include a statement such as "In order to receive this honorarium you have indicated that you have not accepted similar payments from more than five institutions in the past six month period, per INA Section 212(8 U.S.C. 1182)(q)"].

The MIT letter must also be presented to the immigration inspector at the point of entry into the United States, and the visitor must request entrance as a B-1 Business Visitor. The immigration inspector will decide the appropriateness of the visa classification and will note "B-1" on the scholar's entry permit (Form I-94, the small white card stapled in the passport). The notation on the I-94 Form is of the greatest importance. A person may have a B-1/B-2 visa stamp in his or her passport, but the immigration inspector will decide upon the visa classification after reviewing the MIT letter of invitation and will note the I-94 Form appropriately.