Guidelines for frequent travelers to the US

1. What can I do as a business visitor?

  • Attend meetings or training
  • Attend professional, educational or business conferences or conventions, or seminars
  • Solicit sales, negotiate contracts or take orders from customers for work performed outside the country
  • Perform after-sales service on equipment or machinery purchased from a company outside the country pursuant to a sales contract
  • Engage in commercial transactions which do not involve gainful employment
  • Undertake independent research, observe, and engage in fact-finding and look-see trips
  • Consult with business associates 

2. What needs to be demonstrated?

  • The purpose of your trip is to enter the US for general business, not “productive work” or gainful employment
  • You will not receive a salary from a source in the US
  • You plan to remain for a specific and pre-defined time period consistent with the intended purpose of your trip (any visits longer than 2 weeks or for multiple entries may raise red flags!)
  • You have evidence of funds/support to cover your expenses while in the country
  • You have a return flight (round-trip ticket/itinerary)
  • You maintain a residence and employment abroad, to ensure exit at the end of the visit 

3. Productive work is not allowed. What is "Productive Work"?

There is no clear definition of productive work but the following are some guidelines:

  • Will you be compensated (i.e., beyond reimbursement for expenses or per diem) from a US source?
  • Do you have direct reports in the US?
  • Would a local worker otherwise be paid to perform these duties?
  • Have you traveled to the country more than 2-3 times? (Multiple trips and length of time spent raise a red flag)
  • If you answer yes to any of the above, you will likely require a work permit.
  • If you qualify as a business visitor:
    • Always request a Business Traveler Employment Verification Letter
    • Request a US Invitation Letter (only if attending conference/seminar or an internal meeting)

4. What do business visitors need for entry into the US?

Canadians:

Do not require a visa by law and apply for admission directly at the border or pre-flight inspection at a Canadian airport.

For those countries that fall under the Visa Waiver Program:

  1. ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization) clearance must be secured 72 hours in advance of U.S. travel. Apply at https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov/
  2. It is valid for one year.
  3. The applicant must show that they have the financial resources to support themselves during their stay in the US (such as letter confirming employment outside the US)
  4. If not Canadian and not eligible for visa waiver, you will need to apply for a B-1 visa – http://www.usembassy.gov/ 

5. Keep your original documents with you at all times!

This includes your:

  • Valid Passport
  • Roundtrip ticket
  • Proof of sufficient funds for trip
  • Business Traveler Employment Verification Letter
  • U.S. Invitation Letter (to attend internal meetings or attend conferences/ seminars/conventions)

6. What are typical questions at the border?

  • Where do you live (city/state)?
  • Where are you going?
  • How long will you stay?
  • What is the purpose of your visit (business meetings, training, etc.)?
  • What is the address of the place where you will you be staying? 

7. Will a Nexus Pass help?

What is it?

Joint program between US and Canada which allows faster processing for pre-screened, approved travelers

Who may apply?

Citizens or Permanent Residents of the US or Canada; Also other citizens who pass certain background checks

How do I apply?

Online https://ttp.dhs.gov/

Must schedule interview after receive conditional approval 

Discover how PGT can help your business

Schedule time with an expert to review how you can deploy your own daily-updated news and country legal summaries. We will walk you through how to offer clients branded world-class resources on both your firm’s websites and your client intranets

Discover how PGT can help your business

Schedule time with an expert to review how you can deploy your own daily-updated news and country legal summaries. We will walk you through how to offer clients branded world-class resources on both your firm's websites and your client intranets