Guest Lecturer or Observer (Business Visitors: B-1/VWB Visa)

This "visitor" visa is a nonimmigrant visa for persons desiring to enter the U.S. temporarily for business (B-1) and for pleasure or medical treatment (B-2). For example, if the purpose of your planned travel is recreational in nature, including tourism, amusement, visits with friends or relatives, rest, medical treatment, and activities of a fraternal, social, or service nature, then a visitor visa (B-2) would be the appropriate type of visa for your travel. As additional examples, if the purpose for your planned travel is to consult with business associates, travel for a scientific, educational, professional or business convention, or conference on specific dates, settle an estate, or negotiate a contract, then a business (B-1) visitor visa would be the appropriate type of visa for your travel.

Most B1/B2 visitors are admitted for 6 months or less.

Requirement for Visitors to OU

The University of Oklahoma requires all international visitors participating in research exchange to come as J-1 Exchange Visitors. While U.S. immigration inspectors have wide discretion in granting entry to the U.S., they do not view the B1/B2 as appropriate for someone coming to a University to conduct any research. In addition, many embassies and consulates now require the J-1 visa be used for such purposes. It is recommended that prospective researchers consult with the academic department at OU in conjunction with IFSS to determine the most appropriate status for the proposed visit.

The Visa Waiver Program (a.k.a. WT and WB Visas)

Travelers coming to the U.S. for tourism or business for 90 days or less from qualified countries may be eligible to visit the U.S. without a visa if they meet the visa waiver program requirements. See the Visa Waiver Program to learn more, and find out if you meet the visa waiver requirements.

Payments to B-1, B-2, WB and WT Status Holders

Under certain conditions, people holding these types of status may be paid by a U.S. institution or a nonprofit or governmental organization, honoraria and associated incidental expenses for usual academic activity (see Honorarium payment below).  Individuals should check with his or her host department before choosing the B or Visa Waiver Program if compensation or payment for services are eligible to be paid or reimbursed.

Travelers should be aware that the information they post online may be inspected by immigration officials that adjucication requests for immigration benefits, including admission to the U.S. as a business visitor.

Invitation Letter from OU

The sponsoring OU department should provide the visitor with an invitation letter that defines the business activity. The visitor will provide this letter to the US consulate as evidence for visa issuance. Business visitors are not allowed to receive compensation of any kind unless they are guest lecturers who meet the honorarium rules below. The invitation letter should contain the following:

  • Outlines the goals
  • Defines the limitations, including any University polices relating to the activity
  • Period of the observership
  • Statement that no compensation will be paid.

Honorarium Payment

An honorarium is defined as a nominal payment to an individual given in gratitude for services rendered. This is typically a one time, non-recurring payment. While an honorarium may be interpreted as a fee, it is a payment given to a professional person for services for which fees are not legally or traditionally required. The giving of it and the amount are both discretionary. An honorarium is appropriately given to a person who has volunteered time and effort on behalf of the university and who is not otherwise being remunerated for the service provided. The individual should not stand to realize a profit or loss as a result of the service provided.

A B-1 or VWB business visitor may accept an honorarium payment and associated incidental expenses for usual academic activities if:

  • The activities last no longer than 9 days at any single institution or organization;
  • Payment is offered by an institution or organization described in INA 212 (p);
  • The honorarium is for services conducted for the benefit of the institution or entity, and;
  • The alien has not accepted such payment or expenses from more than five institutions or organizations over the last six months.

News

While many formal restrictions on international travel have been lifted, logistical concerns surrounding flights and quarantine policies, as well as visa operations at numerous U.S. embassies/consulates worldwide, continue to impact oversees travel.

  • Consular Processing: Visa processing in many countries continue to be delayed, with limited visa appointment availability. Third Country National (TCN) visa processing is increasingly limited or has been suspended in certain countries, including Canada and Mexico.   It is strongly advised to schedule a visa appointment prior to departure from the U.S., especially if you will not be processing in/traveling to your Home Country, i.e. a TCN request.  Please use the Department of State Website to better understand processing times at the consulate of your choice. Individual consulate websites will also help you better understand current visa processing procedures at that site, including whether an interview will be required.  First-time applicants for a visa of a given type could be referred for secondary processing resulting in additional delay. For applicants applying for the same category of visa they have held before, this risk is reduced. Remember to consider whether you have any dependent family members that may also require visa processing. 
  • India: Please contact the US Consulate(s) in India for specific information on consular processing which is experiencing significant delays in visa appointment scheduling even for Indian nationals.
  • China: China continues to maintain their Zero Tolerance Policy to COVID-19. Travelers to China may experience a quarantine for a period up to 21 days when entering the country before they can continue on to their final destinations. Travelers have also reported that finding flights into China are hard to come by and, when available, very expensive.
  • Form I-94: An electronic Form I-94 is issued to almost all non-immigrant visa holders during the admission process at the U.S. port of entry. Inspect your Form I-94 carefully each time you enter the US to ensure that you and your family (if applicable) are admitted in the correct status for the full length of your approved status. If either the status or expiration date are incorrect, it may be necessary to take corrective steps to prevent violations of your immigration status and from accumulating time in unlawful presence, which may result in a 3-10 year bar to re-entry into the U.S.
    • Form I-94 at Land Borders: Recently, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) requested that travelers apply for their Form I-94 and prepay online before arriving at a land border. The announcement also contains travel tips, including pointers on monitoring border wait times and understanding customs and other policies surrounding border travel.
  • General Unpredictability: As the nature of the pandemic and global operations evolve, governments and companies continue to adapt and change their policies to ensure the public health and safety. You should carefully monitor U.S. and foreign Covid-related travel restrictions.   

Consider This

Volunteering and moonlighting refer to activities outside the scope of the foreign national's employment authorization and may not be allowed. Review more information about volunteering and moonlighting

About IFSS

Review the About Us page
  • Contact Information
  • IFSS Staff
  • IFSS Disclaimer