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Old Sep 25th 2017, 1:36 pm   #1
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Default Employed in the UK, long term business VISA for US

Hi,

I am sure this has been covered many times before but I could not find it in the forum.

I am working for a UK company, we have a distributor in the USA (PA) which is an totally separate entity from the UK company.

In order to try and boost sales and knowledge in the US it has been proposed that I go and work with the distributor in the US for 6-12 months. During this period I would still be employed by the company in the UK.

I was wondering what I need to do for a VISA in this situation, and what my wife would need to do?

Is it possible to conduct business this way or would I need to be employed by the company in the US?

Thanks
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Old Sep 25th 2017, 1:52 pm   #2
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Default Re: Employed in the UK, long term business VISA for US

You would most likely need to be formally employed and probably sponsored by the distributor in the US. Even then the visas available to you are quite limited in quantity and scope. I think your options are limited to O-1, H-1B. You may be able to argue your case as a Specialist under the J-1 visa but I am not sure that you could demonstrate whether your work is specialised enough.

Nevertheless, start with this guide, and go from there.

On the face of it, it doesn't sound like you many realistic options given the company you want to work for is entirely distinct.
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Old Sep 25th 2017, 2:20 pm   #3
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Default Re: Employed in the UK, long term business VISA for US

I think Shiversaint is overly optimistic - there isn't a visa for a secondment to a business not under common ownership.

There may be a way to finagle an E-2 visa with you working as a local "front" for your employer, BUT during the time working in the US you would be required to pay US income tax and payroll deductions - you cannot just be paid in the UK and ignore US payroll tax considerations.

Given what you are trying to achieve, you and your employer will really need to discuss the options and possibilities with an experience immigration lawyer, because there isn't a certain and/or obvious way to achieve what you are trying to do.
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Old Sep 25th 2017, 2:40 pm   #4
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Default Re: Employed in the UK, long term business VISA for US

Thanks for the replies - I thought that may be the case.

I guess the easier option would be to look at being employed by the US company for a period rather than remaining with the UK company.

thanks, i'll read the guide.
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Old Sep 25th 2017, 3:28 pm   #5
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Default Re: Employed in the UK, long term business VISA for US

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Originally Posted by cps13 View Post
Thanks for the replies - I thought that may be the case.

I guess the easier option would be to look at being employed by the US company for a period rather than remaining with the UK company. .....
Unfortunately US companies cannot hire overseas applicants at will. The usual visa for hiring an overseas applicant is an H-1B, which is always substantially oversubscribed, so there is a one week application window each year at the start of April, and then a lottery to decide who gets the visas. The chance of success is around 25%-30%, and the visa is only valid for work from the following October 1st.
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Old Sep 26th 2017, 1:43 am   #6
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Default Re: Employed in the UK, long term business VISA for US

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Originally Posted by Pulaski View Post
I think Shiversaint is overly optimistic - there isn't a visa for a secondment to a business not under common ownership.

There may be a way to finagle an E-2 visa with you working as a local "front" for your employer, BUT during the time working in the US you would be required to pay US income tax and payroll deductions - you cannot just be paid in the UK and ignore US payroll tax considerations.

Given what you are trying to achieve, you and your employer will really need to discuss the options and possibilities with an experience immigration lawyer, because there isn't a certain and/or obvious way to achieve what you are trying to do.
Yes. It is common for immigration lawyers with a business practice to advise in such situations.
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Old Sep 27th 2017, 6:47 pm   #7
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Default Re: Employed in the UK, long term business VISA for US

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Originally Posted by Pulaski View Post
I think Shiversaint is overly optimistic - there isn't a visa for a secondment to a business not under common ownership.

What about B-1? Can be admitted for up to 6 months at a time with the ability to extend by another 6 months for a max of 1 year per trip.

https://www.uscis.gov/working-united...siness-visitor
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Old Sep 27th 2017, 6:55 pm   #8
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Default Re: Employed in the UK, long term business VISA for US

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What about B-1? Can be admitted for up to 6 months at a time with the ability to extend by another 6 months for a max of 1 year per trip.

https://www.uscis.gov/working-united...siness-visitor
There are many things you can do on a B-1, but "work" isn't one of them. ..... I had been meaning to come back to this thread and suggest a series of VWP visits throughout the year, on a needs basis for meetings and seminars with business customers and suppliers. I am sure than business visits of 1-2 weeks every 4-6 weeks would be viable and enable the OP and his employer to meet their goals to expand the business without having to cut through the visa jungle.
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Old Sep 27th 2017, 7:32 pm   #9
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Default Re: Employed in the UK, long term business VISA for US

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Originally Posted by Pulaski View Post
There are many things you can do on a B-1, but "work" isn't one of them. ..... I had been meaning to come back to this thread and suggest a series of VWP visits throughout the year, on a needs basis for meetings and seminars with business customers and suppliers. I am sure than business visits of 1-2 weeks every 4-6 weeks would be viable and enable the OP and his employer to meet their goals to expand the business without having to cut through the visa jungle.

Well, by definition, a business trip would be "work" for him because he'd be taking the trip on behalf of his UK employer and being paid by that employer. Below are the B-1 requirements (I have bolded some bits for emphasis). He might be able to make the case that he would be involved in consulting and/or training. And note that the allowed activities are not limited to this list.

B-1 Temporary Business Visitor

You may be eligible for a B-1 visa if you will be participating in business activities of a commercial or professional nature in the United States, including, but not limited to:
  • Consulting with business associates
  • Traveling for a scientific, educational, professional or business convention, or a conference on specific dates
  • Settling an estate
  • Negotiating a contract
  • Participating in short-term training
  • Transiting through the United States: certain persons may transit the United States with a B-1 visa
  • Deadheading: certain air crewmen may enter the United States as deadhead crew with a B-1 visa
Eligibility Criteria

You must demonstrate the following in order to be eligible to obtain a B-1 visa:
  • The purpose of your trip is to enter the United States for business of a legitimate nature
  • You plan to remain for a specific limited period of time
  • You have the funds to cover the expenses of the trip and your stay in the United States
  • You have a residence outside the United States in which you have no intention of abandoning, as well as other binding ties which will ensure your return abroad at the end of the visit
  • You are otherwise admissible to the United States
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Old Sep 27th 2017, 7:41 pm   #10
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Default Re: Employed in the UK, long term business VISA for US

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Originally Posted by MarylandNed View Post
Well, by definition, a business trip would be "work" for him because he'd be taking the trip on behalf of his UK employer and being paid by that employer. Below are the B-1 requirements (I have bolded some bits for emphasis). He might be able to make the case that he would be involved in consulting and/or training. And note that the allowed activities are not limited to this list.

B-1 Temporary Business Visitor

You may be eligible for a B-1 visa if you will be participating in business activities of a commercial or professional nature in the United States, including, but not limited to:
  • Consulting with business associates
  • Traveling for a scientific, educational, professional or business convention, or a conference on specific dates
  • Settling an estate
  • Negotiating a contract
  • Participating in short-term training ....
The list is explicitly incomplete ("including, but not limited to ...."), and I have seen a list that includes "meeting with customers", and "meeting with suppliers", so I am fairly certain that short visits, on a needs basis, i.e. to meet certain customers in specifiic locations, or attend trade conferences or exhibitions, to assist their US distributor in increasing sales, wouldn't raise any eyebrows at the immigration desk.
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Old Sep 27th 2017, 7:52 pm   #11
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Default Re: Employed in the UK, long term business VISA for US

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Originally Posted by Pulaski View Post
The list is explicitly incomplete ("including, but not limited to ...."), and I have seen a list that includes "meeting with customers", and "meeting with suppliers", so I am fairly certain that short visits, on a needs basis, i.e. to meet certain customers in specifiic locations, or attend trade conferences or exhibitions, to assist their US distributor in increasing sales, wouldn't raise any eyebrows at the immigration desk.

Right but define "short visit". B1 regulations state that you can be approved for visits of up to 6 months at a time with the possibility of extending the visit to a year. This would cover the timeframe the OP requires. Of course there's no guarantee but it would seem to be worth investigating this route.
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Old Sep 27th 2017, 8:06 pm   #12
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Default Re: Employed in the UK, long term business VISA for US

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Right but define "short visit". ....
I did in post #8, above: "1-2weeks".

I see the risk of being thought of as "working" will be greater the longer the visit, whereas you could enter to attend a conference or visit customers x, y, & z during, say, a ten day visit and be much less likely, IMO, to be interrogated on arrival about possibly "working" than on a longer visit.

Showing up for a six month stretch may be a rather different matter.
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Old Sep 27th 2017, 9:01 pm   #13
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Default Re: Employed in the UK, long term business VISA for US

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I did in post #8, above: "1-2weeks".

I see the risk of being thought of as "working" will be greater the longer the visit, whereas you could enter to attend a conference or visit customers x, y, & z during, say, a ten day visit and be much less likely, IMO, to be interrogated on arrival about possibly "working" than on a longer visit.

Showing up for a six month stretch may be a rather different matter.
Right but B-1 regulations don't actually state "short visit". They only state that "You plan to remain for a specific limited period of time". They've actually defined that as up to 6 months for a single trip with the possibility of extending for a further 6 months (so up to 1 year max for a single trip). I'm not saying that it'll definitely work out that way for the OP. I'm just saying that it's a possible route and it's worth investigating. He might be able to make multiple shorter trips and still accomplish his goal.
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Old Sep 27th 2017, 9:10 pm   #14
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Default Re: Employed in the UK, long term business VISA for US

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Originally Posted by MarylandNed View Post
Right but B-1 regulations don't actually state "short visit". They only state that "You plan to remain for a specific limited period of time". They've actually defined that as up to 6 months for a single trip with the possibility of extending for a further 6 months (so up to 1 year max for a single trip). I'm not saying that it'll definitely work out that way for the OP. I'm just saying that it's a possible route and it's worth investigating. He might be able to make multiple shorter trips and still accomplish his goal.
Agreed, but IMO a longer visit, of several months, would be much more likely to raise a red flag with respect to possibly "working". ..... Plus longer than 183 days in a year would also create a huge tax mess.
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Old Sep 28th 2017, 7:35 am   #15
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Default Re: Employed in the UK, long term business VISA for US

I agree with Pulaski. The allowances are vague (probably deliberately so), and how you define work is going to be an issue. I don't agree that "a short period" includes 6 months (or a year if somehow OP gets his i94 extended, which I think is unlikely). Looking at the list, very few of those items ever take more than 6 months, or at least require physical presence for 6 months or more, and those that do, would be in situations whereby there is enough money involved to prompt a formal working visa sponsorship.

I normally look at the B1/B2 as an alternative for those who are VWP ineligible, and it's pretty clear what's expected of the typical traveler: less than 90 days, and staying out of the US for at least as long as your previous visit.

OP hasn't said whether he/she is VWP eligible, and if so, getting a B1 is going to be hard in the first place. OP will have to explain why the VWP doesn't work, which will include revealing that longer term work will be going on, for a US company that isn't sponsoring, whilst being paid from the UK. All sorts of red flags there, let alone the tax mess, and then the medical coverage obligations...

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