The most common type of visa used by aliens to visit the United States is the B visa. The B-1 visa is the visa for business visitors and the B-2 visa is for visitors for pleasure (tourists).
The B-1 visa is a very useful visa for Japanese personnel sent from Japan by a Japanese company to conduct temporary business (from 6 mo. to 1 yr.) in the US. A holder of a B-1 visa may conduct market research, meet with local businessmen (such as Japanese employees of a subsidiary company), negotiate contracts, attend conferences, conventions, trade shows, and to take initial steps in setting up a new company.
At the present time the maximum staying time (I-94 - Staying Permit) is six months. Generally one or two extensions of six months are possible. If the alien leaves the U.S. and later returns, then this is treated as a new entry with a maximum staying time of sixth months and the possibility of one or more extensions. Of course, there may be a problem if an alien stays too long in the U.S. under a B-1 visa but this will depend on the circumstances (number of trips to the U.S. and duration). Under a B-1 visa, an alien is not permitted to live and work in the U.S.
There are a number of limitations concerning the B-1 visa. The alien's family cannot travel with him unless they travel under a B-2 visa. The B-2 visa permits a stay in the US for tourist purposes and which generally allows an initial entry of a maximum of six months and is difficult to extend. Also the alien entering under a B-1 visa must be currently employed by a Japanese company in Japan and conducting temporary business for that Japanese company. The alien may not receive a salary from a U.S. based company (Japanese subsidiary company) while in the U.S.
There is also a means of travel called "Visa Waiver" where an alien many travel to the U.S. without obtaining a formal visa. The requirement is that the alien possess a round trip ticket and that the alien's home country be a part of the Visa Waiver Program. Currently Japan is a country participating in the Visa Waiver Program. The maximum stay in the U.S. under visa waiver is three months. After the three month period, the alien must leave the U.S. and there are no extensions except for medical emergencies.
While the B-1 visa may be useful in some situations, it may be desirable for a U.S. company (Japanese subsidiary company) to employ the alien and to pay the alien a salary and for the alien to bring his family. In that case another type of visa will be necessary.