B-1 Business Visa and WB Visa Waiver for Business

Allowable Activity as a B-1 or WB Business Visitor

May engage in scientific, educational, professional, or business conventions/conferences, or undertake independent research.

Reimbursement of Expenses

A U.S. employer may legally provide the B-1 or WB visitor with a subsistence allowance (per diem) or reimbursement for expenses incidental to the visit (travel and living expenses).

At MIT, a B-1 or WB visitor may be given a short-term, non-salaried appointment, if the DLC so desires, provided that these guidelines are followed.


  • B-1: Temporary stays of six months or less.
  • WB: 90 days or less.


A B-1 or WB Business Visitor may not accept full-time or part-time employment, including temporary teaching or research positions or other employment for which he/she is paid by a U.S. institution or any other U.S. employer.

Not appropriate for students from abroad coming to do research at MIT. Contact the International Students Office for more information on the Visiting Student process: iso-help@mit.edu.


  • Allowable activity: Usual academic activities

  • Duration of activity eligible for honorarium: No more than nine days

  • Other restrictions: the individual may not have accepted similar payments from more than five institutions during the previous six months. MIT's interpretation of this section of the Act [INA Section 212(8 U.S.C. 1182)(q)] is that honoraria payments are limited to a maximum of five visits in a six-month period, each visit lasting no longer than nine days, at MIT and/or other institutions.

    MIT's Office of the VP for Finance/Accounts Payable is required to withhold 30% of the honorarium payment for tax purposes. If the individual wishes to claim tax treaty benefits, he/she must have a Social Security or Taxpayer Identification Number

  • The applicant must present a letter of invitation from MIT at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad. The Consul has sole discretion in the decision to grant or not to grant any visa, therefore, success cannot be guaranteed. The invitation letter must state the purpose of the visit, the dates of the visit, and also that no salary will be paid by MIT. [If the visitor will be receiving an honorarium, the visit may not exceed nine days. The letter should include a statement such as "In order to receive this honorarium you have indicated that you have not accepted similar payments from more than five institutions in the past six-month period, per INA Section 212(8 U.S.C. 1182)(q)"].

    The MIT letter must also be presented to the immigration inspector at the point of entry into the United States, and the visitor must request entrance as a B-1 Business Visitor. The immigration inspector will decide the appropriateness of the visa classification and will note "B-1" and the end date of the authorized stay in the U.S. in the scholar's I-94 admission record and, if applicable, on the admission stamp in their  passport. This notation is of the greatest importance. A person may have a B-1/B-2 visa stamp in his or her passport, but the immigration inspector will decide upon the visa classification (B-1 or B-2) and will appropriately notate the I-94 record and, if applicble, the admission stamp.

    Upon the B-1 visitor’s arrival, it is important to check the I-94 record and/or admission stamp to make sure he or she has been properly admitted into the U.S. in B-1 status. If a Business Visitor has been incorrectly admitted into the U.S. in B-2 Tourist status they will not be eligible to hold an MIT appointment. Please contact ISchO for questions about these procedures, resources for MIT visitors, and how to seek a correction to the status, when applicable.

  • Obtain the necessary authorization via the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA); and have a nontransferable, nonrefundable round-trip ticket.

    Learn more about ESTA

    Register for ESTA

    Passport Requirements

    Prospective WB scholars must check with the relevant passport issuing authority in their home country to ensure that their passports are compliant BEFORE entering the United States. Anyone expecting to be admitted in WB or WT status who does not present the appropriate type of passport will not be admitted to the United States. For more information, go to Visa Waiver Program.


    May not accept full-time, part-time, or temporary teaching or research positions or other employment for which he/she is paid by a U.S. institution or any other U.S. employer.

    No extensions of stay or changes of immigration status permitted.


    Scholars coming under the Visa Waiver Program (WB) must have a letter of invitation from their host Department, Laboratory, or Center to present to the immigration inspector at the airport when they enter the country 

    At the discretion of the inspector, the scholar's passport will be stamped with the date of entry and marked with the notation "WB," and he/she will be permitted to engage in business activity while in the United States. Visitors who do not present an appropriate letter of invitation from MIT will be admitted "WT," Visitor for Tourism, and may not be appointed at MIT.

  • Allowable Activity as a B-2/WT


    May not have a professional affiliation or receive payment for services while in the United States.

    Allowed Duration of Stay

    B-2: Six months or less

    WT: 90 days or less


    Ineligible for academic appointment at MIT.

    Reimbursement of Expenses or Honoraria

    Allowable for academic activities that will last no longer than nine days per institution. The individual may not have accepted similar payments from more than five institutions in the past six-month period. As stated above, these individuals may NOT be given an appointment at MIT.

  • International scholars coming to MIT for short, unpaid visits may have the option of coming to the U.S. in either B-1 (or WB) or J-1 visa status. Each scholar’s situation is different; please contact the ISchO to discuss the appropriateness of the B-1 vs. the J-1 visa for a particular scholar.

    However, please note that the ISchO has observed an increase in denials of B-1 visa applications at U.S. Consulates for certain types of scholars recently, including:

    • Scholars employed by foreign universities who are coming to MIT to conduct research

    • Scholars from visa waiver countries planning to come to MIT for more than three months.

    For these populations especially, the J-1 may be more appropriate and successful.

Page updated March 2023