A Guide for Business Visitors

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers (“CBP”) are responsible for the admission of visitors to the Unites States.  The following guide presents some factors the CBP officer may consider when evaluating your request to enter the U.S. as a business visitor.

Purpose of Your Trip:  Individuals may enter the U.S. to “conduct business,” that is, engage in specific business activities in the U.S. on behalf of a foreign company.  A business visitor may not engage in any “productive work” (skilled or unskilled labor) while in the U.S.  Permissible activities may include the following:

  • Engage in commercial transactions, which do not involve gainful employment in the U.S.;
  • Negotiate contracts, including leases;
  • Consult with business associates;
  • Undertake independent research;
  • Attend conferences, conventions, or meetings on specific dates;
  • Attend a board of directors meeting of a U.S. company as a member of the board of directors;
  • Litigate; and
  • Participate in scientific, educational, or business conventions, conferences, or seminars.

Eligibility:  Business visitors must have a foreign residence they have no intention of abandoning, and must be able to document their intent to return to their home country if asked.  Please note that leaving dependents or a spouse in the home country does not satisfy this requirement.

Recommended Documentation:  While this list is not exhaustive, we generally recommend business visitors be equipped with the following:

  • Passport with at least six months’ validity;
  • Recent letter of employment confirmation from the Canadian entity;
  • Current resume;
  • Three most recent pay slips demonstrating employment with the Canadian entity; and
  • Round-trip, non-refundable ticket.

Factors for Consideration:  If you have previously been denied entry, or have any arrests in Canada or the U.S., please consult with your HR Director prior to departure.  Also, be wary of the following:

  • Taking copious amounts of baggage or product literature;
  • Having only a one-way plane ticket; or
  • Frequent or back-to-back entries, especially of long duration.

** Please note this document contains only general recommendations under the current regulations.  For specific advice, please contact our office directly. **

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