The B-1 and B-2 visa categories represent two very separate and distinct visa types. Each is used to enter the U.S. as a visitor for a short period of time, but for different purposes.
B-1 Temporary Business Visa
The B-1 is used to enter the U.S. to engage in such business activities as: negotiating contracts for an overseas employer, consulting with business associates, attending professional conferences, giving lectures, or conducting independent research. The B-1 visa may not be used for employment purposes as immigration law does not permit a B-1 visitor to engage in any form of employment in the U.S. including salaried work or services performed on an independent basis.
A B-1 visitor may be paid honoraria for "usual academic activities" lasting not longer than nine days at a single institution, providing that the services performed are for the benefit of the academic institution. However, the law stipulates that a B-1 visitor is not permitted to accept honoraria from more than five institutions within a six month period. Reimbursement for travel and reasonable incidental expenses, such as accommodations and meals are also allowed under the same conditions.
In order for the University to pay honoraria or to provide for reimbursement of expenses, the B-1 visitor must present proof of entry into the U.S. in B-1 status and to submit receipts for expenses incurred. The department hosting the visitor should request a copy of the visitor's I-94 Arrival and Departure record to be submitted to the Accounts Payable Department along with receipts for expenses.
It is recommended that foreign nationals entering the U.S. specifically to participate in short-term academic activities do so in the B-1, Visitor for Business visa category.
B-2 Tourist Visa
The B-2 visa is used to enter the U.S. as a tourist, permitted only to engage in activities related to tourism such as travel and recreation. The B-2 visitor is prohibited from engaging in any employment-related activities. However, the law does provide for the payment of honoraria and reimbursement of incidental travel expenses for "usual academic activities" provided that the activity is for the benefit of the academic institution and does not last longer than nine days. The B-2 visitor is permitted to accept honoraria from no more than five institutions within a six month period.