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New Immigration Law Now Allows Tourists on B-1/B-2 Visitor Visas To Work?

by | May 30, 2023 | New Immigration Laws, Visa Issues, Work Permits |

USCIS recently published a tweet this past March that unfortunately has been taken out of context as well as misunderstood by many people.  The tweet in question was this: “Many people have asked if they can look for a new job while in B-1 or B-2 status. The answer is, yes. Searching for employment and interviewing for a position are permissible B-1 or B-2 activities.”

While this is good news, a lot of media, especially Indian periodicals and newspapers, have grossly exaggerated what this tweet actually means.  For those visiting the US or hoping to visit the US, it is important to understand what the announcement is saying and what it is not saying.  The announcement did not say that people here on visitor’s visas are permitted to work.  Individuals who are here on B visas (whether tourist or business) remain subject to a wide variety of restrictions intended to prohibit activities that would be inconsistent with the purpose of a visitor’s visa.  Put plainly, a visitor’s visa is for visiting—not working.  Tourists are not allowed to work and receive remuneration for any type of activity that would be considered employment.  This includes consulting, freelancing, or selling products or services or engaging in anything that would generate income.

Typical activities that are allowed on a B-2 visa would include but are not limited to:

  • Sightseeing and visiting major attractions
  • Visiting friends and family
  • Seeking medical treatment
  • Attending conferences and business meetings, as long as the person is not being paid for participation

If an individual wants to legally work in the US, he or she must switch to or re-enter in an appropriate status that allows work.  Some visas which permit employment inside the US include the following:

  • E visa
  • F-1 (under certain circumstances)
  • H-1
  • I
  • J
  • K
  • L
  • M
  • O
  • P
  • R
  • TC
  • TN

All the tweet is saying is that people here on visitor’s visas can explore opportunities as well as interview for future work opportunities.  It does not mean they are allowed to work while here on the visitor visa.  If you want to work, you have to do a change of status or apply at the US consulate abroad for the visa and re-enter on that visa.

It is critical to understand this because a violation of status can result in a revocation of one’s visa; interfere with a change of status; or even prevent someone from coming back to the US.  Status, in many ways, is like a previous commodity, and you want to hold onto to it as long as you can.  Once it is lost, you may not be able to recover it.  If you need guidance on what you can or cannot do while you are here, call our office for more information.  Getting to the US is sometimes only half of the challenge.  Doing things the right way and not jeopardizing your status is the other half.