International Travel Visa Processing Procedure

Coming to the United States - Visa Related Information for U.S. Conference/Meeting/Event Organizers:

A U.S. visa allows a foreign citizen to travel to a United States port of entry and request admission into the U.S. from a U.S. Immigration Inspector. Since September 11, visa applications have been subject to a greater degree of scrutiny than in the past. The time frames for visa processing today are difficult to predict with accuracy for any individual applicant and could vary significantly by country. Advance planning on the part of travelers is essential for them to have their visa when they need it to visit the United States.
2019 Prospective International Attendees:

Prospective overseas participant, we encourage applying early for any new U.S. visa they may require. For the 27 countries in the visa waiver program, citizens meeting the visa waiver criteria will not need a visa. See: to review the visa waiver program procedures. Canadian citizens do not need a visa, but should visit: for more information. The U.S. Embassy Consular Section will decide, per immigration law, about a particular applicant's eligibility for a given visa type based on the information and documentation presented to the consular officer. However, we can provide this information for you. Except for Canadians and those who can travel on the visa waiver program, anyone who wants to attend a business, educational, professional, or amateur sports event, conference or meeting who is not a government official, will generally need a visitor visa (B1/B2). Media and journalists, including citizens from visa waiver program countries, will generally need an "I" or media visa. Government officials traveling for official purposes would need an "A" visa. Advance planning by foreign travelers is critical. We recommend all foreign travelers consider the following when making their plans to travel to the United States:
  • As soon as travel to the U.S. is considered, foreign travelers should identify whether a visa is needed. If the traveler already has a U.S. visa appropriate for this travel, check the expiration date on the visa to make sure the visa will not expire before the planned travel date. Contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate Consular Section in their homeland to determine any additional visa procedures, the time frame required to set up an appointment for the interview, and schedule an appointment for the interview. An interview is required for most visa applicants. The waiting time for an interview appointment for most applicants is a few weeks or less, but for some embassy consular sections it can be considerably longer. Some applicants will need additional screening and will be notified when they apply. We recommend contacting the Consular Section via the Internet at: For a few countries, foreign travelers will need to contact the Consular Section by telephone. If a visa is needed, foreign travelers should apply for his/her visa as soon as possible, but no later than 60 days before the travel date. If the traveler or the conference is scientific in nature, the visa application should be made no later than 90 days in advance of the travel. Applicants should apply to the U.S. Embassy Consular Section in his/her country of residence.
  • Under immigration law, the applicant will need to overcome the presumption that he/she is an intending immigrant. This is done by establishing, to the consular officer's satisfaction, that he/she is not going to stay in the U.S. based on strong compelling ties to his/her home country. The applicant must establish that he/she plans to come to the U.S. for a definite temporary period and that he/she has access to sufficient funds to cover the entire trip. Meeting organizers may choose to include supporting documents in their communications with foreign meeting participants. Such documents, such as letters of invitation, though not required in the instructions for the visa application, would be for presentation to the consular officer during the visa interview. The letter of invitation can provide information about the conference or meeting by explaining the purpose and specific plans of the intended travel, including an explanation of any funding provided for the applicant.This letter cannot guarantee the issuance of a visa. Applicants for non-immigrant visas must show that they qualify individually on their own merit per provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act. Applicants must demonstrate that they are properly classifiable as non-immigrants under U.S. law and not on the basis of an American sponsor's assurance. NCSL International will provided these letters for attendees of the 2019 Workshop & Symposium.
  • The Department of State recommends their web site as the first source of up-to-date visitor visa information. Information about visitor visas, what a person needs to apply and fees is available on their web site at: and at Travelers should note that U.S. Embassy Consular Sections overseas have sole responsibility for visa processing and the issuance of visas. They generally are the first point of contact for visa processing status. Visa Services at the Department of State is not able to expedite the processing of visa applications.
  • Please contact the NCSL International Business office for VISA letters and invitations to attend the conference at 303-440-3339 or