How to travel to the United States on business from Switzerland

Do I need a Visa for a Business Trip to the US?

The length of your stay in the United States and the purpose of your business trip will all determine whether you need a visa.

If you are a resident of one of the forty countries participating in the Visa Waiver Program and plan to visit the United States on business for less than 90 days, then you can apply for an ESTA USA. You won’t need to apply for a B-1 Business Visa in order to visit the US. If you are a Swiss national looking to travel to America for business, this should apply to you.

After determining whether you qualify, you must pay a processing fee. You must then wait for a positive or negative response (in rare cases). You only need to show up with your passport at the airport to get cleared to enter the US.

ESTAs are valid for two years. Circumstances can, nonetheless, render it void:

  1. You will need to reapply if you get a new passport (such as an emergency passport or temporary passport);
  2. If you change your name;
  3. If you change your gender;
  4. If you change your citizenship;
  5. You can change the answer to any questions that you answered “yes” or ‘no” on your ESTA application.

You can apply here to ESTA


Traveling to the US with a B-1 visa

You must obtain a B-1 Business Visa if you are not a Swiss national (or a citizen from one of the 38 Visa Waiver Countries that qualify for ESTA). The B-1 Business Visa is designed to allow for the following:

  • Attending meetings and discussions to conduct business
  • Attending a convention, a business conference, or a convention
  • Contract negotiations

You must schedule an appointment at the nearest US Embassy and provide all required documentation. This includes proof of the commercial activities you plan to conduct in US territory.

Your visa application will be processed in seven working days if you have all the required documents and a completed application. You may need to wait for weeks, months, or even years if your B-1 visa application is denied or a waiver is necessary.

You should obtain your business visa before you schedule any business meetings or arrangements. The rules for business travel in the United States are slightly different for citizens of Canada and Bermuda.

This provides additional information about business travel for this group of citizens.


What to tell border officials when entering the US for business?

It is against the law to lie to border officials. You could be denied entry to the country in the future. It’s better to declare that you only have one business meeting in the US and travel on a valid visa.

The border officials may ask to inspect your luggage. They may become suspicious if they find suits or business cards in your luggage when you have a visitor visa, not a business one.

A B-1 visa allows you to travel for multiple purposes. You don’t have to worry if you are going on a trip with a potential client or business partner, attending a conference, or negotiating.

If you plan to work for an American company in the United States, you will need to apply for a work visa instead of a business visa.

You should never forget that if you apply for the wrong visa, border officials may have serious issues deciding whether or not to allow you to enter the country. Always be truthful and convincing about your plans when you are asked. It is essential to be accurate. Check your visa or ESTA eligibility, and allow plenty of time for preparations.