Business Visitor Classifications (B-1/WB)

Scholars who are invited to BU to participate in scientific, educational or professional activities, business conventions/conferences or to undertake independent research may qualify for a B-1 or WB Visitor classification. Scholars in a B-1 or WB classification cannot be employed by BU and are not eligible to receive a BU salary or stipend. You will, however, need to provide them with the appropriate unpaid research appointment.  Please review the Office of Human Resources Academic Research Job Family matrix to determine appropriate appointment.  While a visitor classification can often be a quick and easy way for someone to get to BU, it is not always the right way.

Required Paperwork and Processing

After speaking with your scholar advisor to see if a visitor classification is recommended, please send the ISSO the following documentation so that we can write an invitation letter and send further instructions to your scholar:

  • BU Appointment Letter – In most cases, this is ‘Visiting Researcher.’
  • Copy of the biographical information page(s) from the scholar’s passport, including the passport expiration date
  • Brief statement explaining the specific details of the BU affiliation; ie. faculty host name, type of research, etc.

All visitors are required to check-in with the ISSO upon arrival in the U.S. The ISSO does allow individuals in Visitor classifications to check-in with us remotely rather than coming to the ISSO so please call us for more information on how to do this.

The Visa Waiver Program allows citizens of certain countries to enter the U.S. for a maximum of 90 days without applying for a visa so long as they meet the following criteria: 

To travel in this classification, the scholar:

  • must be a citizen or national of participating country;
  • must have authorization through the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) before traveling to the U.S.
  • must have a passport that is valid at least 6 months after the planned departure from the U.S
  • must have an e-passport (enhanced passport with embedded electronic chip)

Individuals who have travelled to and/or are dual nationals of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen may be restricted from entering the U.S. in this classification. Refer to the U.S. Department of State website for more specific information on the  Visa Waiver Program.

Scholars who do not meet the Visa Waiver Program requirements must enter the U.S. as a B-1 Visitor for Business.  Citizens of most countries (except for Canada)are required to obtain a B-1 visa to enter the U.S. in this classification. If your prospective visitor already has a valid B-1 visa, it is not necessary to obtain a new one specifically for the visit to BU.  Citizens of China must also enroll in the Electronic Visa Update System (EVUS) before traveling to the U.S.

Please discuss payment with either Payroll of Accounts Payable in advance as the ISSO cannot determine payment eligibility for visitors.  If the associated restrictions on payment for the scholar’s activity do not meet the requirements for payment under a visitor classification, we recommend sponsorship in the J-1 classification. If your scholar meets the criteria for a payment, be sure to obtain any required documentation for payment BEFORE the scholar leaves the U.S.  Certain documents will not be available after departure from the U.S.

Honorarium:  The Accounts Payable Office processes all honorarium payments and provides instructions and a list of required documentation.  A scholar in a Visitor classification may be eligible to receive an honorarium payment from BU so long as the activity at BU will last no longer than 9 business days and the scholar has not received similar payment from more than 5 academic institutions in the U.S. within the past six months. Note that scholars may be eligible for tax treaty benefits related to honorarium payments.  To take advantage of any tax treaties they must visit the complete any necessary paperwork to allow for the tax treaty benefit while they are in the U.S. All honoraria payments to foreign nationals will be taxed at a 30% tax rate, unless exempted by a tax treaty. If the scholar is unable to provide a Social Security number or taxpayer identification number, treaty benefits cannot be applied.

Travel reimbursements:  The Accounts Payable Office processes travel reimbursements. Please note that such reimbursements are only for receipted expenses and do not include per diem or other subsistence allowances.  Non-BU employees are not eligible for these allowances.  Therefore, since scholars in visitor categories are not considered BU employees, this payment option is not allowable. Please contact Accounts Payable in advance regarding payment questions and to determine required documentation for reimbursement processing.