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B-1 Business Visa and WB Visa Waiver for Business

MIT Administrators > B-1 and WB Information

B-1 Visitor for Business Visa

Allowable Activity as a B-1

May engage in scientific, educational, professional, or business conventions/conferences, or undertake independent research.

U.S. Department of State description of the B-1 visa

Reimbursement of Expenses

A U.S. employer may legally provide the B-1 visitor with a subsistence allowance (per diem) or reimbursement for expenses incidental to the visit (travel and living expenses).

At MIT, a B-1 visitor may be given a short-term, non-salaried appointment, if the DLC so desires, provided that these guidelines are followed. WB (Visa Waiver for Business) classification, granted as part of the Visa Waiver Program, has similar guidelines. See below.

Duration

Temporary stays of six months or less.

Restrictions

A B-1 Business Visitor may not accept full-time or part-time employment, including temporary teaching or research positions or other employment for which he/she is paid by a U.S. institution or any other U.S. employer.

Not appropriate for students from abroad coming to do research at MIT. Contact the International Students Office for more information on the Visiting Student process: iso-help@mit.edu.

Honoraria

  • Allowable activity: Usual academic activites

  • Duration of activity eligible for honorarium: No more than nine days

  • Other restrictions: 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 five 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 VP for Finance/Accounts Payable 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.

Procedure to Obtain a B-1 Visa

Applicant must present a letter of invitation from MIT at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad. The Consul has sole discretion in the decision to grant 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" and the end date of the authorized stay in the U.S. on the admission stamp in the scholar's passport or paper Form I-94 (arrival/departure record). The notation on the admission stamp or Form I-94 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 and length of authorized stay after reviewing the MIT letter of invitation and will note the admission stamp or I-94 appropriately.

Registration with the ISchO

All B-1 scholars who receive appointments at MIT MUST register with the ISchO upon arrival. Contact the ISchO with any questions about visa regulations or procedures, and for information on the most appropriate visa.

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Visa Waiver Program - WB Classification

Certain scholars coming to the United States for short business visits (WB) can enter without getting a visa stamp in their passport under the Visa Waiver Program. Eligible citizens of certain countries may travel using the WB/WT classification.

Allowable Activity as a WB

Scientific, educational, professional, or business conventions/conferences, or to undertake independent research.

Duration

90 days or less

Other Requirements

Obtain the necessary authorization via the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA); and have a nontransferable, nonrefundable round-trip ticket.

Learn more about ESTA
Register for ESTA

Passport Requirements

Prospective WB scholars must check with the relevant passport issuing authority in their home country to ensure that their passports are compliant BEFORE entering the United States. Anyone expecting to be admitted in WB or WT status who does not present the appropriate type of passport will not be admitted to the United States.

Passport requirements

Restrictions

May not accept full-time, part-time, or temporary teaching or research positions or other employment for which he/she is paid by a U.S. institution or any other U.S. employer.

No extensions of stay or changes of immigration status permitted.

Procedure

Scholars coming under the Visa Waiver Program (WB) must have a letter of invitation from their host Department, Laboratory, or Center to present to the immigration inspector at the airport when they enter the country (see the information above about particular contents of the invitation letter).

At the discretion of the inspector, the scholar's passport will be stamped with the date of entry and marked with the notation "WB," and he/she will be permitted to engage in business activity while in the United States. Visitors who do not present an appropriate letter of invitation from MIT will be admitted "WT," Visitor for Tourism, and may not be appointed at MIT.

Registration with the ISchO

All WB scholars who receive appointments at MIT MUST register with the ISchO upon arrival. Contact the ISchO with any questions about visa regulations or procedures, and for information on the most appropriate visa.

Reimbursement of Expenses

A U.S. employer may legally provide the WB visitor with a subsistence allowance (per diem) or reimbursement for expenses incidental to the visit (travel and living expenses).

At MIT, a WB visitor may be given a short-term, non-salaried appointment, if the DLC so desires, provided that these guidelines are followed. The B-1 classification has similar guidelines.

Honoraria

Allowable for usual academic activites that will last no longer than nine days per institution. The individual may not have accepted similar payments from more then five institutions in the past six-month period.

The categories listed above are for scholars visiting MIT who will not receive an MIT salary. Information on the J-1 Exchange Visitor category, for which salaries are allowed, can be found here.

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B-2/WT Visitors for Tourism

Allowable Activity as a B-2/WT

Tourism

May not have a professional affiliation or receive payment for services while in the United States.

Allowed Duration of Stay

B-2: Six months or less

WT: 90 days or less

Restriction

Ineligible for academic appointment at MIT.

Reimbursement of Expenses or Honoraria

Allowable for academic activities that will last no longer than nine days per institution. The individual may not have accepted similar payments from more than five institutions in the past six-month period. As stated above, these individuals may NOT be given an appointment at MIT.

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B-1 vs. J-1 for International Scholars

International scholars coming to MIT for short, unpaid visits may have the option of coming to the U.S. in either B-1 (or WB) or J-1 visa status. Each scholar’s situation is different; please contact the ISchO to discuss the appropriateness of the B-1 vs. the J-1 visa for a particular scholar.

However, please note that the ISchO has observed an increase in denials of B-1 visa applications at U.S. Consulates for certain types of scholars recently, including:

  • Scholars employed by foreign universities who are coming to MIT to conduct research

  • Scholars from visa waiver countries planning to come to MIT for more than three months.

For these populations especially, the J-1 may be more appropriate and successful.

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Last Updated: May 2014

77 Massachusetts Ave, Room E38-219, Cambridge, MA 02139-4307 | Telephone: (617) 253-2851 | Fax: (617) 253-6624 | E-mail: iso@mit.edu