Citizens of 38 countries can enter the United States for business purposes without a B-1 visa. In order to enter the United States without a visa, these citizens must file with the ESTA program online.

Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) is an automated system that determines the eligibility of visitors to travel to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). Visitors, including entrepreneurs, travelling under the visa waiver program may enter the United States to partake in the same activities permitted under the B-1 visa. As with the B-1 it can be a good option for entrepreneurs to enter to U.S. to participate in business activities.

Traveling on ESTA can be easier than a B-1 due to not having to obtain a visa, however authorization via ESTA does not determine whether a traveler is admissible to the United States. U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers determine admissibility upon travelers’ arrival. The ESTA application collects biographic information and answers to VWP eligibility questions. ESTA applications may be submitted at any time prior to travel, though it is recommended that travelers apply as soon as they begin preparing travel plans or prior to purchasing airline tickets.

Using ESTA allows for entry of up to 90 days at a time and it cannot be extended. Individuals who intend to spend more than 90 days in the United States or feel more comfortable traveling with a visa may apply for a B-1 visa instead. As with the B-1 visa, travelers should spend as much, or more, time outside of the United States as inside to avoid suspicion by CBP officers.

We strongly discourage individuals who are eligible for ESTA from applying for B-1 visas