The B1 visa is still a hot and controversial option for business visitors. At the AILA Rome District Chapter conference held in London, representatives of the DOS in London indicated that Consular Officers may no longer be printing endorsements on B-1 visas indicating the basis for issuance of the visa (e.g., B in lieu of H or BILOH endorsements). Instead, Consular Officers will enter information relating to the basis for issuance of the B-1 visa in an online database accessible to CBP officers at POEs (in order to defer such adjudications to CBP):
The following questions were discussed and we are sharing with our readers:
a) Has CBP in Dublin engaged in discussions with DOS relating to this change in DOS
procedures? Pre-clearance regularly engage in discussions on visa procedures, but there
have been no specific instructions on this issue.
b) Has CBP in Dublin provided any training to CBP officers relating to review of consular
officer notes? General training occurs. DOS notes are seen as helpful as a form of
c) Has CBP in Dublin received any new guidance to the field in connection with this new
method of indicating the basis for issuance of a B-1 visa? No
d) If CBP in Dublin has received any new instructions to the field in connection with B-1 visa
endorsements, is CBP willing to provide a copy to AILA? N/A
e) Is it possible to provide any insight regarding what is seen by CBP? Would this only be accessible during secondary inspection? Should the applicant mention this BILOH electronic annotation to the CBP officer or will this already be obvious? DOS notes are viewed only during the secondary inspection process. Yes an applicant should always be well prepared for entry, particularly under this category. It will assist with the BILOH if mentioned at the outset. Six new officers have been added since last November. If an officer encounters a BILOH situation that they feel uncomfortable admitting from primary it is more likely that the individual will end up in secondary, but this is not necessary for more experienced officers.
f) Without the annotation on the visa itself, what about cases where individuals will be sharing their time between the U.S. and U.K. for an extended period (e.g., 6 months)? Will such individuals be required to go through secondary each and every time they seek to re-enter the U.S. to engage in local employment pursuant to his/her B-1 in lieu of H-1B sub-classification? An applicant would not necessarily need to go through secondary for a BILOH, it will depend on the answers they provide to CBP on the reasons for their travel. This adjudication would happen regardless of annotation. Lack of annotation will not change the way in which we deal with the visa category.
Apart from arming clients with a support letter from the employer, is there anything we can do to avoid alarm bells going off when a B-1/B-2 visa holder announces that she is entering the US to “work”? Would you suggest that the letter of support is also carried for simple B-1 entry or even Visa Waiver entry? Yes this is sensible. It may not be reviewed or needed. A well prepared applicant will go some way in facilitating entry.
To conclude, holders of this visa encounter problems when trying to enter the U.S. This is because this visa has not been formally recognized by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), even though it is issued by a U.S. Consulate or Embassy. We suggest clients to be well prepared and carry the necessary documents to support entry on the B1 Visa.