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.

In limited circumstances, you may be able to pay a scholar in a visitor classification an honorarium.  In addition, a scholar who come to BU in a WB or B-1 Visitor classification (excludes B-2 or WT) may be eligible to receive reimbursement for associated travel expenses to BU.  To prevent possible payment problems and/or problems with obtaining a visa or entering the U.S., it is important to consider both the immigration classification options and the payment options before your scholar travels to BU.  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.  Please contact your scholar advisor and/or Payroll or Accounts Payable before moving forward with this option.

See our sponsorship policy and procedures for required paperwork and processing for a Visitor classification.

Required Paperwork and Processing

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

  • BU Appointment – 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.

WB Visa Waiver for Business

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. To qualify for entrance in this manner, scholars must meet ALL of the following requirements:

Refer to the U.S. Department of State website for more specific information on the  Visa Waiver Program

B-1 Visitor for Business

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 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.

Information on Allowable Payments

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.

Processing Summary for Visitors

  1. Department submits required paperwork to ISSO
  2. ISSO writes invitation letter and forwards it to scholar with additional instructions for travel.
  3. Scholar obtains proper clearance for travel to the U.S. This includes either a B-1/B-1 visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate (if necessary) or ESTA clearance (for WB/WT eligible visitors).
  4. Scholar travels to BU and checks-in with the ISSO.
  5. ISSO reviews documentation and provides UID number within 24-48 hours of check-in. If applicable, department takes necessary steps with Payroll Office to process travel reimbursement.