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Does a foreign member of a US public company board of directors need a work visa in the USA? For example, if a large foreign company invested in a US public company and wanted board representation, would the representative need to have a work visa?

Or is there a special visa that is used for this, such as a B1?

Does it differ depending on whether the member dials in from abroad or attends the meeting in the USA?

  • @user662852 that visa is for immigrants. What about those who do not intend to immigrate? Also, that visa is for investors. A board member does not necessarily invest in the company. (And why would they when they are normally given stock in the company as compensation?) – phoog Sep 30 '16 at 2:53
  • Dr Xorile: It certainly differs depending on whether the member dials in from abroad. A visa is only necessary to travel to the US. If the board member is in another country, no visa is necessary. – phoog Sep 30 '16 at 2:54
  • Well, s/he would still be earning money from the US company. But I take your point. The main question I guess is if s/he is visiting. – Dr Xorile Sep 30 '16 at 2:56
  • @DrXorile There's no need for US employment authorization if a US company wants to pay someone in another country. The company will need to consider the laws of the country where the payee is, of course, and there are tax considerations as well. One requirement of a B-1 visa is not to receive compensation from a US entity, so I suppose that unless there's an exception for board members, a B-1 would not be applicable. I'm not sure of the answer yet but if I can find it I'll answer the question. – phoog Sep 30 '16 at 3:00
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A normal requirement of B-1 status is that the visitor may not receive compensation for any activities in the US. However, there appears to be an exception for board members.

I was not able to find anything about this on any government sites, but several law firms have information online about permissible B-1 activities, and they all agree that attending board meetings in the US is a permissible B-1 activity.

The first one I saw that noted this as an exception to the rule against receivng compensation was http://www.maggio-kattar.com/sites/default/files/B-1%20Compliance%20Guide.pdf, which says

Some foreign nationals who will perform actual labor for compensation in the U.S. may be admitted as B-1 visitors, including:

  • Members of Boards of Directors of U.S. corporations coming to the U.S. to attend a board meeting or to perform other functions of board membership.

  • [...]

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