B-1 and Visa Waiver Program

Information about the B-1 and Visa Waiver program is intended for scholars whose visas are not sponsored by Washington University in St. Louis.

The B-1 Visa

The B visitor category permits temporary entry to the United States for either business (B-1) or pleasure (B-2).

To enter the U.S., the person must have a B-1 visa in his or her passport. In order to obtain a B-1 visa, the person will have to visit a U.S. consulate abroad and apply. Applying for a visa can be a lengthy process and should be started well in advance of the prospective visit. If the visitor already has a valid B-1 or B-1/B-2 visa in his/her passport, then he or she does not have to apply for a new visa.

Length of stay is determined by the official at the U.S. port of entry and is indicated on the visitor’s I-94.

The Visa Waiver Program

The Visa Waiver program permits nationals of certain countries to travel to the United States for business (WB) or tourism (WT) for stays of 90 or fewer days without obtaining a visa.

The visitor should check with the U.S. consulate in his or her country of residence to determine if he or she is eligible to travel under the Visa Waiver program. If eligible, the visitor will not need to apply for an entry visa at a U.S. consulate. The visitor will need to obtain pretravel authorization from the Department of Homeland Security through a new electronic screening system called the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA). If the ESTA travel authorization is approved, then the visitor is eligible to travel to the U.S. under the Visa Waiver program, although this does not guarantee admission.

Length of stay is determined by the official at the U.S. port of entry and is indicated on the visitor’s I-94. WB visitors are not eligible for an extension of their status or for a change of status. These visitors are prohibited from enrolling in a course of study and are prohibited from engaging in employment in the U.S.

When B-1 or WB Status Is Appropriate

A B-1 or WB is not appropriate for someone coming to Washington University to engage in temporary employment. B-1 or WB status may be appropriate for a short-term visitor coming to Washington University to engage in one or more of the following activities:

  • Consult with business associates
  • Participate in scientific, educational, professional or business conventions, conferences or seminars
  • Undertake independent research

Documentation Needed before Obtaining a Visa and/or Entering the U.S.

The sponsoring department at Washington University will provide the visitor with an invitation letter. The letter may be used at the consulate and at the port of entry to the U.S.

Payment Under the B-1 or WB Status

A B-1 or WB visitor cannot be paid wages by Washington University.

A B-1 or WB visitor may be reimbursed only for travel expenses incidental to the temporary stay, such as air travel and living expenses, but these may not exceed the reasonable costs that the visitor will incur while visiting the university.*

If eligible, the B-1 or WB visitor may be paid an honorarium under the 9/5/6 rule*. The 9/5/6 rule allows for payment of incidental expenses and an honorarium to B-1/B-2 or WB/WT visitors provided that:

  • the visitor is performing a usual academic activity
  • the activity will not last more than nine days
  • and the visitor has not been paid under this rule by more than five U.S. institutions in the last six months

Usual academic activities may include lecturing, guest teaching or performing in an academic sponsored festival. The services conducted must be for the benefit of Washington University.

*All reimbursements and honorariums should be discussed in advance with the Tax Office at Washington University.