B-1 Business Visitor Visa, Temporary Work And OCS Manning Exemptions

Since hurricane Ike in September of 2008, there has been an influx of B-1 business visitors who came to the U.S. to train or to work for an affiliate or a subsidiary of their foreign employers. B-1 visitor visas are usually restricted to only business visitors who come to the U.S. for training purposes, to attend trade shows and conventions, or to research of business opportunities in the U.S. In some instances, B-1 business visitors may come to the U.S. to work on a temporary basis, limited up to 180 days, to work if certain requirements are met. The Houston Business Visa Attorneys and the Houston Employment Visa Lawyers at the Law Offices of Steven Tuan Pham have assisted clients within the oil and gas industries, as well as in the technology sectors, to transfer employees to come to the U.S. and work on a temporary basis under B-1 visitor visa, without going through the hassle of filing an L-1 intracompany transfer visa.

As referenced above, some B-1 business visitors are allowed to work in the U.S. on a temporary basis. First, the B-1 visitor must be an employee of a foreign company that has affiliate, sister, parent, or subsidiary U.S. companies. The employee must be paid only by the foreign company for the duration of the business trip and the U.S. company may only pay for incidental costs. Further, the person must meet all requirements that usually encompass an H-1 specialty worker visa. That is, the applicant must show that the job requires someone with a bachelor degree that usually associated with an H-1B specialty worker visa. Unlike H-1B, the B-1 business visitor cannot replace the degree with experience. Lastly, the person has residence and other ties to the foreign country and demonstrates that he or she does have “intent not to seek domicile in the United States.” Elkins v. Moreno, 98 S. Ct. 1338 (1978) (emphasis added); INA §101(a)(15)(B) [8 USCA §1101(a)(15)(B)]; 8 U.S.C. § 1101(a)(15)(B).

Because many employers within the oil and gas industry requires employees to work offshore, either on a vessel or on a platform, employers must also consider requirements for workers to work on the Outer Continental Shelf (commonly known as “OCS”). The Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act Amendments of 1978 (OCSLA), requires that only U.S. citizens or lawful permanent resident aliens employ as members of regular complement of Unit. See the Foreign Affair manual at 9 FAM 41.31 N.9.9. However, OCSLA requirements are waived for certain B-1 visa applicants, as specified under U.S. Coast Guard’s regulations under 33 CFR 141, and any such B-1 visa qualified under the Exemptions are notated as “OCS.” 9 FAM 41.31 N.9.9, 9 FAM 41.31 N.9.9-1, and 9 FAM 41.31 N.9.9-2. The U.S. companies must apply with the U.S. Coast Guard to obtain the manning exemption prior to the intended B-1 or L-1 visa applications. It is critical that the application process start early to ensure offshore operations are not adversely affected by undue delays, especially in cases where emergency repairs to oil and gas operations on the OCS.

For more information regarding U.S. Coast Guard Manning Exemption Applications, please click here to read more. You can also contact our Houston Immigration Attorneys and our Houston OCS Manning Exemption Lawyers to assist you in the manning exemption application process. Our Houston B-1 Visitor Visa Lawyers and our Houston OCS Manning Exemption Attorneys have assisted clients in bringing foreign employees to the U.S. quickly through B-1 visitor visas and work on a temporary basis for the affiliated U.S. company. Our Houston Work Visa Lawyers and our Houston Employment Visa Attorneys can be reached at 713-517-6645.


Immigration Law is a vast area of law and requires an immigration attorney with years of experience to understand the intricacies of the Immigration & Naturalization Law. In addition, the U.S. Consular Offices are keen to scrutinize the foreign national’s “immigration intent” for non-immigrant visas, especially visitor visas. Please contact the Houston Nonimmigrant Visa Attorneys and the Houston B-1 B-2 Visitor Visa Lawyers to ensure proper documentations to show that the foreign national does not have the presumed “immigrant intent.” Please callthe Houston Immigration Attorneys and the Spring Texas B-2 Visitor Visa Immigration Lawyers at the Law Offices of Steven Tuan Pham. today at 713-517-6645 or complete our Contact Form.

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