Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Some people in the comments of my blog have hinted that I should have just "followed the rules" and nothing would have happened. This is incorrect -- I did follow the rules. It is perfectly legal for an independent contractor to be contracted to perform a task in the US, come in, do it, and leave. That is (amongst other things) what the "business" checkbox on the I94W is for.

What landed me in this trouble is that the immigration agent decided that even though I am CEO of a company in Germany and have no employment contract with Blackhat (just a contract as an independent contractor), that the status of "independent contractor" does not apply to me - his interpretation was that I was an "employee" of Blackhat without an H1B visa.

This is not a case of me screwing up my paperwork. This is a case of an immigration agent that did not understand my attempts at explaining that I am not a Blackhat employee, and me not knowing the subtleties of being interviewed by DHS/INS agents.

I hope I will be able to clarify the misunderstanding on Thursday morning at the consulate.
Small addition to clarify: It is perfectly legitimate to come to the US to hold lectures and trainings of the kind that I am holding at Blackhat. To reiterate: The problem originated solely from a misunderstanding where it was presumed I was an "employee" of a US company, which is not correct.


Bodo said...

You can't do arbitrary "independent contractor" work with a B-1 visa, or under the visa waiver program. If you go to the US for negotiating a contract, say, this surely will quality as "business"; but if you perform paid services, it generally doesn't.

There are certain exceptions for speakers and lecturers: you may accept a honorarium in addition to expenses if the speaking engagement is with a nonprofit research organization, provided that certain conditions are met.

http://london.usembassy.gov/cons_new/visa/niv/b1.html for some explanations on what qualifies as "business" and what doesn't.

wideblue said...

You would be attending a conference, where you would do what people do on conferences. So the question is what kind of f... visa does one need to attend a conference as individual in US, or there are special visas for if you just sit there, or present a poster or have a lecture or want to ask questions or want to talk with other participants. This should just be stated out clearly.

Matti said...

Halvar Flake,

On the one hand I am glade that you are putting some new post on your blog but of course I would have preferred not such an aggravating subject. So I am hopping for some better news from your side ;-) and as it is Thursday I keep my fingers crossed!!!
BTW: talking about Murphy’s Law don’t you have to update the links to recurity-labs?

Kind regards

Troff said...

Does this mean you'll have to fly in an unmarked plane the next time you're hired by some suitable American agency?

Unknown said...

Read the link you posted. It clearly says that Halvar should have been able to do it.vak