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TRAVEL TO THE UNITED STATES
APPLY EARLY! - Visa applicants are advised to apply as soon as they decide to travel to the United States and at least four months in advance of the event start date. We encourage applicants to bring their English-language resume with a list of their published articles and research topics to the interview as well.
All international visitors must present a passport or secure document when entering the United States. Most travelers to the United States must hold a valid visa and a passport that is valid six months longer than the intended visit. For a more thorough review of the visa process, please consult the U.S. Department of State website.
WHO NEEDS TO APPLY FOR A VISA
The purpose of the visit determines what type of visa will be needed. Visitors planning to visit or attend a meeting will most likely apply for a B1 visa. B1 applicants should contact their U.S. host or meeting organizer for assistance and information not included here. Sponsored visitors, such as students and researchers, will most likely apply for F1 or J1 visas. Their university’s or sponsor’s international office is often the best resource.
Visa Waiver Program (VWP)
Citizens of VWP-participant countries do not need a U.S. visa for business or tourism visits of 90 days or less. However, if you will receive any compensation for your services or activities (i.e. lectures, presentations, etc.), you may need to apply for a visa. Contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate in your country for more information.
For additional details and updates on the Visa Waiver Program, see the U.S. Department of State’s Visa Waiver Program webpage.
Visa Interview Waiver Program (VIWP)
The Visa Interview Waiver Program is currently suspended under Executive Order 13780. Only diplomats, persons under the age of 14, and persons over the age of 79 are exempt from this suspension. The VIWP permits certain individuals to obtain a non-immigrant visa without an in-person interview, and is not to be confused with the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) mentioned above.
Additional Information on Visas and Other Entry Requirements Related to the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative
Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative
HOW TO APPLY FOR A VISA
An overview of the U.S. visa application process can be found on the U.S. Department of State's website. As a standard part of the visa process, the U.S. Department of State is now requiring that consular officers interview almost every applicant. Some consulates may have a long wait for an interview. Applicants should contact the consulate to schedule an interview as early as possible.
Furthermore, some visa applications are sent to the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C. to be reviewed by several agencies. Because of the high number of visa applications and the need for thorough security reviews, this process can take several months. Therefore, it is advisable for travelers to apply for their visas as early as possible (at least three to four months before the visa is needed). Contact the nearest U.S. consulate or embassy in your country for details on visa application procedures at that post.
More information on applying for visas can be found on these websites:
Visa application basics
Check your visa application status
THE VISA INTERVIEW
Each in-person visa interview at a U.S. embassy or consulate is just a few minutes long. In that time, the applicant must convince the consular officer that they have established ties to their home country, that they are traveling to the United States for the intended purpose, and that the applicant and the United States will both benefit from this visit.
During the visa interview, it may be helpful to focus on answering the following questions:
Who are you?
What do you want to do in the United States?
How are you going to fund it?
What do you intend to do after completing this activity/program in the United States?
WHAT CAUSES VISA DELAYS AND DENIALS
Due to increased security measures, many applicants must now appear for a personal interview at the U.S. consulate. Applicants should take this into consideration and start the process as early as possible. Scientists and students may experience delays due to a security review process known as Visa Mantis, which is required for applicants with a background in one of the sensitive technologies on the Technology Alert List. The Visa Mantis review is not a new procedure. However, the number of applications being reviewed overall has increased significantly, leading to delays in the processing of applications.
If your visa application is subject to further administrative processing, you may check your visa application status online at Consular Electronic Application Center. If you have experienced serious delays in your visa application process, you may be eligible to report your case to the IVO by submitting an IVO Questionnaire. Please consult the Visa Questionnaire for details on eligibility.
All visa denials must be accompanied by a written statement citing the reason for the denial. While the decision of the consular officer is final, in some cases, an applicant can reapply for a visa if he/she has additional information that was not provided earlier. For further information on visa denials and how to reapply for a visa after a denial, see the U.S. Department of State's webpage on visa denials.
214(b) of the INA is the most common visa denial, which asserts that the non-immigrant applicant did not sufficiently prove their intent to return home after their activity in the U.S. The IVO advises all applicants, particularly those applying for a B-1 or B-1/B-2 visa to attend brief events and conferences, to bring documents to their interview that signify permanent ties to their country of residence. These documents could be related to ownership of property, dependents, career, and anything else that would require the applicant to return home.
HELPFUL GOVERNMENT RESOURCES
Bureau of Consular Affairs (Department of State): https://travel.state.gov/
EducationUSA (Department of State): https://educationusa.state.gov/
Study in the States (Department of Homeland Security): https://studyinthestates.dhs.gov/
J-1 Exchange Visitor Program: http://j1visa.state.gov/
National Visa Center Hotline: 603-334-0888
Ask NVC! Online Submission for Questions: https://secureforms.travel.state.gov/ask-nvc.php
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