NAFTA Requirements for Business Visitors to the United States


By
James McAskill
June 1, 2003

Under the North American Free Trade Agreement ("NAFTA"), business persons who plan to carry on any business activity related to: research and design, growth, manufacturing and production, marketing, sales and distribution, after-sales service and general service may qualify as "B-1 Temporary Business Visitors" if they meet the following criteria:

  • they are a citizen of Canada;
  • they are seeking entry to the U.S. for business purposes;
  • the proposed business activity is international in scope;
  • they have no intention of entering the U.S. domestic labour market;
  • their primary source of remuneration is outside of the U.S.
  • the principal place of business, and the accrual of profits, remain outside of the U.S.; and
  • they meet existing immigration requirements for temporary entry.

Under the "B-1 Temporary Business Visitors" classification, a business visitor would require the following documentation:

  • Proof of Canadian citizenship (preferably a passport); and
  • A letter from their employer outlining the circumstances/purpose of the business trip. This letter should include where a business visitor will be staying (and an itinerary, if possible), a list of businesses that will be visited (including addresses and contact names) and a statement that the business visitor's salary is paid by the employer and that the business visitor will not receive payment of any kind from a U.S. source. The letter should be presented to the immigration officer at the port of entry.

If a business visitor makes frequent visits to the U.S., they may request that an I-94 (record of entry document) be inserted into their passport to facilitate temporary entry. This document can be issued for up to six months, however, it cannot be applied for in advance. It is only available at the time the person is seeking temporary entry into the U.S.

It should also be noted that business persons who plan to carry out professional activities for an employer or who are on contract to an enterprise located in a NAFTA member country other than one's own are designated as 'Professionals' and as such the criteria and documentation necessary to gain entry into the U.S. differs from that of a 'Business Visitor'.

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