Tips For Traveling To The United States - Provided by the ACS
I. Visa Waiver Program (VWP)
The VWP enables citizens of certain countries to travel to the United States for tourism or business for 90 days or less without obtaining a visa. Please note that a new automated system (ESTA) to screen passengers traveling to the U.S. under the VWP has been implemented. Beginning on August 1, 2008, the Department of Homeland Security will begin accepting voluntary ESTA applications and it is anticipated that ESTA will become mandatory for WVP travelers on January 12, 2009. Please click here or here to learn more.
II. The U.S. Visa Process (For all other visitors who do not qualify for the VWP)
Once you have decided to visit the United States, you should start your visa process as soon as possible. Make sure that you:
- Determine the appropriate visa category for your travel. Most visitors attending meetings in the U.S. will apply for a B-1 (Temporary Visitor for Business) Visa. Please visit this page for more information.
- Schedule a U.S. Consulate/Embassy Interview. Please do so as soon as you make the decision to travel since it could take up to several weeks to get an interview. To locate the appropriate embassy/consulate in your region please visit: http://www.usembassy.gov/
- Prepare for your U.S. Visa Consulate Interview. Make sure all your documents are in order:
- Valid Passport (six months or longer)
- Passport-type photograph
- Proof of payment of fees
- Application forms
- Evidence of funds to cover expenses while in the U.S.
- Proof of ties to your home country
- Proof of your professional, scientific, or educational status
Please remember that document requirements vary depending on your region. For specific documentation requirements please check with your embassy or consulate.
- The day of your interview:
- Be prepared for long lines (Allow an entire day for your visa interview)
- Know how to explain your science
- Wear appropriate business attire
- Address the consul professionally and respectfully – Remember…It is his/her decision to give you a visa
- After the interview:
- If you have not heard back from the U.S. Embassy or Consulate within sixty days, you should contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate and request information about the status of your visa application.
- Be prepared to deal with delays or a denial. If your visa application is still pending after sixty days and you are at risk of not arriving in time to present a paper, contact the scientific meeting organizers. You can also register your visa delay with the U.S. National Academy of Sciences .
- My Visa was approved. Make sure to bring all your documents with you at the time of travel.
For detailed information regarding the visa process (before, during, and after the interview) and the VWP, please visit this page.