Category Archives: nonimmigrant visa

B-1 Visitor Visa: Traveling to the U.S. for Business

Is the B-1/B-2 the right visa to enter the U.S. to participate in a business meeting? Attend a conference or convention? Negotiate a contract?

Yes on the B-1, but no on a B-2 only.

If you have a combination B-1/B-2 visa, you should inform the U.S customs officer of the main purpose of your visit. Get admitted in the right classification. The B-1 is more flexible than the B-2 classification. You may engage in business activities and tourism with a B-1. But the B-2 is for tourism and social visits only, with very limited exceptions in special circumstances.

The B-1 visa or combined B-1/B-2 visa is for nonimmigrants who seek to enter the U.S. temporarily for business reasons and tourism. To get the visa or gain entry to the U.S. on this visa, you need to show you will participate in only permitted activities.

Episode 10 of The Legal Immigrant podcast summarizes:

(A) What you can do in the U.S. as a B-1 visitor – 

1) Business activities of a commercial nature. Examples:

  • engage in commercial translations
  • negotiate a contract
  • participate in business meetings
  • litigate, including to participate in a lawsuit, take a claim to court, or settle an estate
  • attend a conference
  • do independent research

2) Professional activities that do not lead to compensation or employment in the United States. Examples:

  • ministers of religion and missionaries doing missionary work
  • volunteers participating in a recognized voluntary service program
  • professional athletes competing in a tournament or sporting event of international dimension
  • investors seeking investments in U.S. 

3) Limited activities that do not amount to substantive performance of work. Examples:

  • commercial or industrial workers needed to install, service or repair equipment as required by contract of sale
  • certain foreign airline employees in an executive, supervisory or highly technical role who travel to the U.S. to join an aircraft for onward international flight
  • third/fourth-year medical students pursuing medical clerkship at U.S. medical school’s hospital (without remuneration) as part of a foreign medical school degree

(B) U.S. immigration problems that might arise if you do remote work (including work for a foreign employer) while you are in the U.S. as a visitor 

  • the connection between U.S. tax law and U.S. immigration law
  • the risk of being found to have violated status if you perform activities that are not entirely consistent with the terms and conditions of the visa

(C) The eligibility requirements for the visitor visa

  • maintain a residence abroad that you do not intend to abandon
  • intend to stay in the U.S. for a specific, limited period
  • seek entry solely to engage in legitimate activities permitted on the visa
  • have no U.S. immigration violations or criminal offenses that make you inadmissible  or otherwise qualify for a waiver of inadmissibility

While the B-1 visa and status allow a wider range of visitor activities in the U.S. — compared to the B-2 visa — it has its limits.

A visitor visa holder is not guaranteed admission to the U.S. for temporary stays. At the U.S. port of entry, the U.S. Customs & Border Protection may issue an expedited removal order if it determines the person intends to engage in activities outside the purpose of the visitor visa, or has previously violated status during earlier visits.

The expedited removal order itself creates a 5-year bar to re-entry under INA 212(a)(9)(A). If the CBP also charges the person with fraud or willful misrepresentation of material fact to obtain a visa or other U.S. immigration benefit, this leads to a permanent bar under INA 212(a)(6)(C)(i).

To request a consultation on visitor visa problems, you may submit an inquiry by email at or by online message at

For more information, see:

Dyan Williams, Esq.

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The Legal Immigrant podcast and this article provide general information only. It is based on law, regulations and policy that are subject to change. Do not consider it as legal advice for your situation. The sharing or receipt of this information does not create an attorney-client relationship.


The Legal Immigrant PODCAST is Now Up!

The month of January signals new beginnings and fresh starts. In December 2020 – with the new year approaching – I finally took steps to launch The Legal Immigrant podcast.

Through success stories and Q&As, the show will cover U.S. immigration problems that we help our clients solve.

Episodes 1 and 2 are now up. The podcast is available HERE  on the show’s website. Or find it on podcast apps like Apple Podcasts, SpotifyPlayer FM, and Listen Notes or via RSS feed.

At the start of 2020, I had tentative plans to launch a podcast. As a solo immigration lawyer and a productivity coach, I was conflicted on whether to start one or two podcasts. Over time, this project moved to the backburner while COVID-19, civil unrest, school closures, the November Elections, and other changes were at front and center.

Although the U.S. and other parts of the world are still not back to pre-COVID-19 “normal,” we can still attend to the essentials. We have a unique opportunity to build resilience, show grace to others, and learn new ways to maintain human connection.

Besides launching The Legal Immigrant podcast, I started another podcast, The Incrementalist. This productivity show will discuss how to make big changes or finish a big project in small steps, with the Incrementalist approach.

There’s a content strategy to release new episodes over the coming weeks. It will take systems – not goals – to keep the shows going. Stay tuned!

In the meantime, check out the first two episodes of The Legal Immigrant. If you find the podcast helpful, please share it with others. And subscribe so you don’t miss new episodes. 

And if you’d like to check out my other podcast, The Incrementalist, click HERE for the show’s website.

Your downloads, shares and subscriptions will help to grow the shows. In return, I will aim to provide valuable content and build connection with listeners through podcasting.

Thank you for your support and audience.

All the best in 2021,

Dyan Williams


Removal of INA 212(a)(6)(C)(i) Bar + H-4 Visa Grant = A True Success Story

A U.S. Consulate granted the H-4 spouse visa to our client, after agreeing to remove the INA 212(a)(6)(C)(i) charge against her. This permanent bar was made 10 years earlier, when she applied for an Immigrant Visa sponsored by her prior U.S. citizen spouse.

A 212(d)(3) nonimmigrant waiver is the more common fix, but does not get rid of the bar. In this case, I advised the applicant to file a motion to reconsider and rescind the inadmissibility charge, instead of ask for a 212(d)(3) waiver with the visa. The facts and law did not support the Consulate’s finding that she used fraud or willfully misrepresented material facts to obtain a U.S. immigration benefit.

Problem: INA 212(a)(6)(C)(i) Charge is a Permanent Bar

In the CR1 Immigrant Visa refusal, the U.S. Consulate found that my client had willfully misrepresented a material fact in her prior request for a K-3 nonimmigrant visa. The K-3 allows the spouse of a U.S. citizen to enter the U.S. with temporary status and then apply for a green card through Form I-485 adjustment.

According to the Consulate, she had falsely claimed to be married to the U.S. citizen petitioner when she really was not. It reasoned that her Hindu marriage — at the time she applied for the K-3 visa — was not legally valid because their marital ceremony did not include the statutorily recognized rituals, Saptapadi and/or Agni Pheras.

The couple chose to leave out these rituals for personal reasons. They received a marriage certificate from the government authorities based on the ceremony that was performed. They did not expect the U.S. Consulate to question the validity of the marriage due to the missing ceremonial rituals.

At the K-3 visa interview, the consular officer instructed the applicant to complete a new marital ceremony with all the necessary Hindu marriage rituals. It issued a visa refusal notice stating the petition was invalid and would be returned to USCIS for revocation.

After following the Consulate’s instructions, the U.S. citizen filed a second I-130 petition to restart the process. The beneficiary later applied for the Immigrant Visa with the understanding that the new marriage met the Consulate’s requirements.

Instead of granting the CR1 visa, the U.S. Consulate denied it under INA 212(a)(6)(C)(i). The Consulate found the applicant had lied about her marital status in the K-3 visa request because she did not have a legal marriage to the petitioner at the time. She next filed a Form I-601, Application for Waiver of Inadmissibility with USCIS, as instructed by the Consulate.

A year later, the I-601 waiver request was denied. USCIS found there was insufficient evidence of extreme hardship to the U.S. citizen petitioner if the applicant did not immigrate to the United States. The separation led the marriage to fall apart and end in divorce.

Several years later, the applicant entered into a legal, bona fide marriage to an H-1B visa holder. The couple then contacted me for help in getting the H-4 visa at the U.S. Consulate.

I confirmed that section 212(a)(6)(C)(i) is a lifetime inadmissibility bar. The H-4 visa could be granted only if the U.S. Consulate agreed to remove the bar or the U.S. Customs & Border Protection (CBP), Admissibility Review Office (ARO) issued a 212(d)(3) waiver with the Consulate’s recommendation.

Solution: Motion to Reconsider and Rescind Inadmissibility Bar in H-4 Visa Request

With my guidance, the couple decided to ask the U.S. Consulate to remove the section 212(a)(6)(C)(i) charge and grant the H-4 visa, without requiring the 212(d)(3) waiver.

To support the Motion to Reconsider, I counseled the H-1B spouse and the H-4 applicant on the written testimonies and documentary evidence to present to the U.S. Consulate. I also prepared a legal memorandum explaining why the section 212(a)(6)(C)(i) bar did not apply to this case.

At the visa interview, the applicant was questioned about the prior marriage that led to the inadmissibility bar. To show the consular officer that the bar was made in error, she presented the Motion to Reconsider, including my legal memorandum and her affidavit. The Consulate accepted her documents and placed the case in 221(g) administrative processing.

After receiving my follow-up inquiry, the Consulate scheduled the applicant for a second interview. This was three months after her first interview. She answered more questions on her marriage to the H-1B visa holder. She also submitted more evidence related to the marriage in response to a second 221(g) notice.

Six months after the first interview, the Consulate issued a notice stating the applicant was eligible for a waiver of inadmissibility. I then followed up with the Consulate requesting again they review the Motion to Reconsider and lift the section 212(a)(6)(C)(i) bar.

After several more months of administrative processing and follow-up inquiries, the Consulate issued a notice stating a new waiver was in process because the prior waiver had expired.

At that point, I filed a request with the Visa Office, U.S. Department of State, asking it to counsel the U.S. Consulate to reconsider the inadmissibility charge, instead of require a 212(d)(3) waiver. The Visa Office contacted the Consulate and began to investigate my inquiry.

Outcome: Removal of Misrepresentation Bar and H-4 Visa Grant

A year after the applicant had attended her first H-4 visa interview, the U.S. Consulate agreed to remove the section 212(a)(6)(C)(i) bar. The Visa Office sent me an email stating the Consulate would contact the applicant with further instructions on her H-4 visa request.

Despite the long wait, my client was happy to have the bar lifted and to receive her H-4 visa without needing a 212(d)(3) waiver. The visa was marked with a “clearance received” annotation. Because her spouse was already in the United States in H-1B status, she was excepted from Presidential Proclamation 10052, which placed COVID-19 travel restrictions on nonimmigrant visa applicants.

With the removal of the 212(a)(6)(C)(i) charge, my client will not a need a 212(d)(3) waiver to extend her H-4 status or to get a new nonimmigrant visa. She also will not require a Form I-601/INA 212(i) waiver to immigrate to the U.S. with her husband, who may apply for permanent residence through his U.S. employer.

The H-4 applicant, her H-1B spouse and I communicated by emails and telephone calls. I had one in-person meeting with the H-1B spouse for the initial consultation. With effective collaboration, we convinced the U.S. Consulate to remove the (6)(C)(i) bar — which was made a decade ago — and grant the H-4 visa. This is a true success story.


Dyan Williams

Founder & Principal Attorney
Dyan Williams Law PLLC
(612) 225-9900


This article provides general information only. It is based on law, regulations and policy that are subject to change. Do not consider it as legal advice for your situation. Each case is unique and even cases that seem similar may have different outcomes. The sharing or receipt of this information does not create an attorney-client relationship.


Intro & Outro Music by: Sebastian Brian Mehr

Consent to Reapply for Admission – I-212 Waiver: Remedy to Overcoming INA 212(a)(9)(A) and (C) Bars

In this video, attorney Dyan Williams explains the remedy to obtaining a visa or lawful admission to the U.S. when you are barred due to a removal order, illegal re-entry, or aggravated felony conviction. The Consent to Reapply for Admission (I-212 Waiver) is needed when you are inadmissible under INA 212(a)(9)(A) and INA 212(a)(9)(C).

Get answers to these frequently asked questions:

1) Do I need a visa with the CTR?

2) Do I qualify for the CTR?

3) What must I prove to get the CTR?

4) How do I file for the CTR?

5) Do I need an attorney to file for the CTR?

For more information, see:

When do you need an I-212 Waiver (and how do you get it)?

What should you do to get your I-212 Waiver?

Approval of Form I-212 + Grant of Immigrant Visa= A True Success Story

I-212 Waiver + Diversity Immigrant Visa = A True Success Story

Approval of Form I-212 + Grant of 212(d)(3) Nonimmigrant Waiver = A True Success Story

Contact Dyan for advice and guidance on the Consent to Reapply for Admission (I-212 Waiver).

This video provides general information and is for educational purposes only. Do not consider it as legal advice for any individual case or situation. U.S. immigration laws, regulations and policies are subject to change. The sharing or receipt of this information does not create an attorney-client relationship.


SEVP Modifies COVID-19 Exemptions for F-1 and M-1 Students: In-Person Classes Required in Fall 2020

On Monday, July 6, the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) announced changes to the exemptions for F-1 and M-1 students taking online classes due to the pandemic. Under the new policy, international students may not remain in the U.S. to take a full online course load in Fall 2020 without accruing unlawful presence and being subject to removal (deportation) proceedings. F-1 and M-1 visas or admissions to the U.S. in such status will not be given to students enrolled in schools and/or programs that are fully online for the fall semester.

What is the New Policy?

The SEVP is part of the U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE). A July 6 announcement on ICE’s website lists the changes to temporary exemptions for the fall 2020 semester:

1. Nonimmigrant F-1 and M-1 students attending schools operating entirely online may not take a full online course load and remain in the United States. The U.S. Department of State will not issue visas to students enrolled in schools and/or programs that are fully online for the fall semester nor will U.S. Customs and Border Protection permit these students to enter the United States. Active students currently in the United States enrolled in such programs must depart the country or take other measures, such as transferring to a school with in-person instruction to remain in lawful status. If not, they may face immigration consequences including, but not limited to, the initiation of removal proceedings.

2. Nonimmigrant F-1 students attending schools operating under normal in-person classes are bound by existing federal regulations. Eligible F students may take a maximum of one class or three credit hours online.

3. Nonimmigrant F-1 students attending schools adopting a hybrid model — that is, a mixture of online and in person classes — will be allowed to take more than one class or three credit hours online. These schools must certify to SEVP, through the Form I-20, “Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status,” certifying that the program is not entirely online, that the student is not taking an entirely online course load this semester, and that the student is taking the minimum number of online classes required to make normal progress in their degree program. The above exemptions do not apply to F-1 students in English language training programs or M-1 students pursing vocational degrees, who are not permitted to enroll in any online courses.

Schools are instructed to update their information in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) within 10 days of the change if they begin the fall semester with in-person classes but later switch to only online classes, or a nonimmigrant student changes course selections, and as a result, ends up taking an entirely online course load.

What are the Effects of the New Policy?

F-1 students pursue academic coursework while M-1 students pursue vocational coursework in the United States.

U.S. federal regulation at 8 CFR 214.2(f)(6)(i)(G) states that F-1 students may take only one online class or 3 credits per session, term, semester, trimester or quarter that count toward their degree or full course of study requirement. 8 CFR 214.2(m)(9)(v) states M-1 students may not count online courses toward a full course of study.

An online course is one that does not require physical attendance for classes, examination or other activities integral to course completion. It is offered primarily through the use of television, audio, or computer transmission.

Previous COVID-19 Exemptions

On March 9, 2020, SEVP issued guidance titled Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) and Potential Procedural Adaptions for F and M nonimmigrant students. This prior policy allowed F and M students to continue studies by taking online courses in the spring and summer semesters to meet federal regulations. It allowed them to take more online courses during the COVID-19 pandemic than what is permitted by federal regulations.

There was no requirement prohibiting a full online course load or any other restrictions for F and M students enrolled and already in the U.S. The SEVP permitted schools to change their procedures to comply with state or local state health emergency rules. Schools were not required to give prior notice of these changes and only had to report changes to SEVP within 10 business days.

Updated COVID-19 Exemptions

As of Fall 2020, the updated policy makes in-person classes mandatory for F and M students to meet the full-time course study requirements. This is a shift from the more flexible COVID-19 exemptions that SEVP gave to schools and students for the spring and summer semesters of 2020.

Nonimmigrant Students in the United States

Current F and M students may not take a full online course load and remain in the United States without violating the law. If students find all their courses will be online, they must leave the country or seek to maintain their status such as by requesting authorization for a reduced course load or switching to a school that offers in-person classes. Students who fall out of status and accrue unlawful presence are subject to being put in removal proceedings before an Immigration Court.

Normal In-Person Classes

If the school offers normal in-person classes, F students must comply with federal regulation by taking only one online class or 3 credit hours per session, term, semester, trimester or quarter.

Hybrid Model with In-Person and Online Classes

If the school offers a hybrid model with a combination of in-person and online classes, F students may take more than one online class or three credit hours online.  What this really means is that the class includes a mix of online lectures or activities and in-person lectures or activities. Hybrid schools must certify on the Form I-20 that the program is not fully online, the student is not taking an entirely online course load, and the student is taking the minimum number of online classes for Fall 2020 to make normal progress.   

No Online Classes for F-1 Students in English Language Training Programs or M-1 Students

None of the exemptions for taking online classes, including the hybrid model, are allowed for F students in English Language training programs or for M-1 students pursuing vocational degrees.  The regulations at 8 CFR 214.2(f)(6)(i)(G) and 8 CFR 214.2(m)(9)(v) do not permit online classes for such students.

[UPDATE, July 15, 2020: U.S. district judge Allison D. Burroughs announced on Tuesday, July 14, that the Trump Administration had agreed to back down in a lawsuit over the policy filed by Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Previous COVID-19 exemptions — which allow foreign students to remain in the U.S. to study even if their classes have all moved online — will continue to apply. The new policy will apply only to incoming students.]

Nonimmigrant Students Outside the United States

The U.S. Department of State (U.S. Embassies and Consulates) will not issue F and M visas to applicants who plan to attend schools that offer courses entirely online in Fall 2020.

Even if they have a valid F or M visa, students will not be admitted to the United States by CBP if all the program-related courses are online only for Fall 2020.

Form I-20 Updates

F and M students must get an updated Form I-20, Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status, stating the school is not operating in full online courses mode and the student is not taking full online courses for Fall 2020 semester. This information goes in the Remarks field of the I-20.

SEVP plans to re-issue I-20s for Fall 2020 within 21 business days of the announcement (i.e. by August 4, 2020). Priority will be given to fall 2020 students arriving from outside the United States.

Current F-1 students with approved Curricular Practical Training (CPT) during program studies or with approved Optional Practical Training (OPT) or STEM OPT after program completion may remain in active status and continue their training.

Continuing F and M students, whose schools offer only online courses for Fall 2020, can keep active status if they stay outside the United States and take full online courses to meet visa requirements. They must get a new I-20 indicating they are abroad taking a full course load as the school is offering only online courses for Fall 2020.


The updated policy is not fully clear and schools are awaiting further guidance from SEVP, ICE. The student visa restrictions were introduced soon after the pandemic-related suspension on H, L and J visa and certain immigrant visas.

With the ending of the temporary exemptions that were granted back in March, F and M students may not lawfully remain in the United States if their school goes fully or, in some cases, partly online. To maintain status or to receive a visa or entry to the United States, the student has to take in-person classes or, in the case of F-1 students, classes that involve a mix of in-person and online attendance.

Schools that planned to operate remotely, in COVID-19 times, might need to rethink their strategy to keep their F and M students. Schools that do not at least offer a hybrid model of in-person and online classes will face a significant loss in revenue (tuition and fees from international students).

The updated policy could serve as a catalyst for colleges and universities to reopen campuses, as states continue to lift restrictions that were implemented to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. There is flexibility in that schools may use hybrid models that are not 100% online to keep F-1 students.

Some international students might not want to bear exposure to the virus by attending classes in person. But, under the new rule, this is unavoidable if they wish to maintain their status or to obtain an F-1 or M-1 visa and be admitted to the United States for the Fall 2020 semester.


This article provides general information only. It is based on law, regulations and policy that are subject to change. Do not consider it as legal advice for any individual case or situation. Each legal case is different and case examples do not constitute a prediction or guarantee of success or failure in any other case. The sharing or receipt of this information does not create an attorney-client relationship.