Who can come in B-1/B-2 status or under the Visa Waiver Program?

Under certain circumstances, a visitor may come to the University in B-1/B-2 status or under the Visa Waiver Program.

B-1 is the Visitor for Business status, and B-2 is the Visitor for Pleasure status. The Visa Waiver Program (VWP) allows a traveler to come to the U.S. without a visa and stay for up to 90 days. Individuals coming under the VWP will need to have a valid ESTA registration. Similar conditions apply to B status and to the VWP; visitors should carefully check the website of the consulate or embassy for information on both. Please see a more detailed overview of various immigration statuses.

B-status allows a visitor to conduct business on behalf of a foreign company as well as business of a general nature. (It also allows for independent research. However, the kind of activity a visitor might conduct in affiliation with the University does not constitute independent research. Please see more about this below.) It does not permit employment. Some facts about B-status are noteworthy in the context of the University:

  1. A visitor who comes specifically for the purpose of attending a conference or symposium or to give public lectures or presentations at the University may do so in B-status, provided that:
    • The activities fall within 9 calendar days
    • The visitor has not undertaken such activities for more than 5 different institutions in the last 6 months

    This is the so-called "9/5/6 rule" and an individual whose visit satisfies these conditions can be reimbursed for expenses and receive an honorarium. Please note that tax withholdings of 30% will apply unless the individual has a Social Security Number or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number. Please see instructions on what information should be included in the Invitation Letter.

  2. A visitor who comes to the University to conduct independent research may do so in B-status. Independent research means the use of University facilities without any affiliation to the University. It does not include having been invited to participate in departmental activities, having been provided a University ID card, being provided office or lab space, library privileges (other than a guest pass), or anything of the kind. Anyone who receives such benefits is considered to have an affiliation with the institution and therefore may not conduct these activities in B-status. For example, individuals coming to the University as Clinical Observers may not do so on the basis of B-status; to be a Clinical Observer at the University of Chicago, an individual needs J-1 status under most circumstances. 
  3. The determination of an affiliation with the University requiring J-1 status holds true even if no payment is made to the visitor by the University.

Additional Information/Resources: