While on a B1/B2 (business/tourist) visa, you may engage in some business activities, including such things as a need to consult with business associates, negotiate a contract, buy goods or materials, settle an estate, appear in a court trial, or participate in business or professional conventions or conferences. You may also use a B1 visa when you will be traveling to the United States on behalf of a foreign employer for training or meetings.
However, you may not receive payment (except for incidental expenses) from a United States source while on a B1/B2 visa. Working at a job in the United States while on a B1/B2 visa is generally prohibited and is not an appropriate use of this visa class.
If you are planning to work while in the United States, you will need a different class of visa, such as an H, L, or J visa. These working visas require petitions from U.S. employers and an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) from the Department of Homeland Security.
There are consequences for working without authorization in the U.S. If you have worked while on a B1/B2 visa in the past, you are less likely to receive another visa in the future. The consular officer must be convinced that you will use your visa correctly. If you have misused a visa in the past, you may have difficulty convincing the consular officer that you will use it appropriately in the future.
While adjudicating visas, consular officers look very closely at past stays in the United States. Long and/or frequent trips (even with approved extensions) will often cause a consular officer to question whether you were working while in the United States.
While in the United States under any class of visa, it is your responsibility to know the types of activities that are permissible under your visa class. Please visit travel.state.gov for more information about conducting business and working in the United States.