Legal Blog

B-1 Visa for Domestic Workers

Cleaning service. Bucket with sponges, chemicals bottles and mopping stick. Rubber gloves and towel. Household equipment.Co-authored with Zainab Salman Anwar

The B-1 visa is an ideal solution for personal employees or domestic workers to accompany or join a U.S. citizen employer temporarily in the United States. This visa category caters to a range of domestic roles, including cooks, chauffeurs, valets, footmen, nannies, housemaids, gardeners, and paid companions.


Requirements for the B-1 Visa

  • The U.S. citizen employer must either have a permanent home or should be routinely stationed in a foreign country.
  • The U.S. citizen employer is temporarily traveling to the U.S. The employer’s return to the U.S. should not exceed six years.
  • The employer can demonstrate the regular employment of the domestic worker in the same capacity as the intended employment in the U.S. or a minimum 6-month employment relationship prior to the employee’s entry into the U.S.
  • The employee must provide evidence of employment experience as a personal employee or domestic worker (i.e., attested statements from previous employers).
  • A signed and dated employment contract for the intended employment in the U.S. must be provided.


Requirements of the Employment Contract

  • The employment contract must be signed and dated.
  • The employee’s daily wage should be the greater of the minimum or prevailing wage under U.S. federal, state, or local law.
  • The employer must provide living quarters and airfare for a round trip to the U.S. to the employee.
  • A certification to affirm that the employee may only be required to stay on the premises after working hours if appropriately compensated.
  • The employee must only be employed by the employer in the U.S.
  • The contract should mirror the standard benefits provided to U.S. domestic workers in a similar area of employment.


Application Process

The employee should work with an immigration attorney to prepare a detailed B-1 application addressing the employee’s qualifications for B-1 status. Once the application is complete, the employee should schedule a visa appointment at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad to present their B-1 visa application and discuss their qualifications.

Once the application is approved, the employee’s passport will be returned with the B-1 visa within 3 to 5 business days. The B-1 visa may be granted for a period ranging from 6 months to 10 years, at the discretion of the interviewing officer.

Post-entry in the U.S., the employee must then apply for an Employment Authorization Card (Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization). This process may take from 3 to 9 months. The Employment Authorization Card will be limited to the expiration of the employee’s I-94 admission period.


Work Authorization

Once the employee receives the Employment Authorization Card, the employee may apply for a U.S. Social Security number and receive a salary from a U.S. source. Holders of B-1 visas are subject to taxation obligations imposed on U.S. wage earners and may avail of the same protections as U.S. workers.


B-1 Employment Status Post Entry in U.S.

The initial authorized entry period typically spans from 6 to 12 months. The employee may be eligible for an extension status (Form I-539, Application for Extension of Status) for six months, which may be renewed.

It is imperative that the employee keep track of the expiration dates of their visa, I-94 admission period and Employment Authorization Card. Unlawful presence in the U.S. can have serious consequences on their ability to return to the U.S. in the future.


Headshot of Mohammad Ali Syed, principal attorney with the Employmeny Law Group Practice in Bethesda, | 240.507.1784

Over the past twenty years Mohammad (Mo) Ali Syed has developed a thriving immigration, litigation and international business practice.  In Immigration Law, for individuals, his experience includes family-based immigration, sponsorship, fiancé visas, asylum, naturalization, and U.S. citizenship. He has obtained EB1 expedited green cards for aliens of extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, and athletics. For businesses, Mr. Syed has vast experience with nonimmigrant and immigrant visas including H-1B, PERM (employment-based green cards), E1/E2 treaty traders and investor visas, L1 intracompany transfer visas, O, P, foreign professionals, and multinational managers and EB5 investor green cards.