U.S. Visa Information

If you require a visa to enter the United States to attend Coverings 2024, taking place April 22-25 in Atlanta, Georgia, you should apply early!

Even if you didn’t need a visa for a previous Coverings, you are encouraged to double check the current requirements. U.S. regulations now require security checks for most visitor visas, resulting in a process that may take three months or more. Citizens of certain countries must have an invitation in hand before they can obtain a passport from their government, and then apply for a U.S. entry visa. General information on the U.S. visa application process is available on this page and official information on U.S. visa policies and procedures is available from the U.S. Department of State.

Please email [email protected] with any questions or concerns.

International Travel to the U.S. Update

The U.S. has lifted COVID-19 travel restrictions for fully vaccinated international visitors effective June 12, 2022. Check with your embassy/consulate for guidelines and FAQs. Learn More!

Register Early to Receive Your Visa Letter!

International Coverings participants requiring a visa letter must begin the process by completing online registration where you will enter your personal information. Your registration must be complete before a visa letter can be generated.

Visa applicants are advised to apply as soon as they decide to travel to the U.S. and at least three to four months in advance.

This page is intended to provide general information to individuals planning to visit the United States temporarily for the Coverings show in Atlanta, Georgia, April 22-25, 2024. The purpose of the visit determines what type of visa will be needed. Visitors planning to visit or attend Coverings will most likely apply for a B-1 visa. Sponsored visitors, such as students and researchers, will most likely apply for F-1 or J-1 visas. The university’s or sponsor’s international office is your best resource.

Most travelers to the United States must hold a valid visa and a passport that is valid six months longer than the intended visit. Most Common Nonimmigrant Visa Categories:

Category Description:

  • B-1 Temporary visitor for business (ex. business meetings, international conferences)
  • B-2 Temporary visitor for pleasure (ex. tourism, family visits)
    F-1 Academic student (undergraduate and graduate students at universities)
  • J-1 Exchange visitors (ex. postdoctoral students and research scholars)
  • H-1B Temporary specialty worker
  • O-1 Extraordinary ability in sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics
  • Click here to view the complete list of Nonimmigrant Visas.

Most nonimmigrant visa applicants are in the B-1 category. Read more about the DS-160 form used for B-1 applicants. Citizens of participating countries meeting the Visa Waiver Program requirements may be allowed to enter the United States as visitors for pleasure or business without first getting a visa. Visitors can stay only 90 days and cannot extend their stay. Go to our information on the Visa Waiver Program to learn more, or visit the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

Generally, Canadian citizens do not need a visa. Although a passport is not required to enter the United States except after a visit outside the Western Hemisphere, all travelers should be prepared to present documentary evidence of identity (government-issued photo identification) and citizenship (i.e., passport, birth certificate, citizenship certificate). The following Canadian citizens require a visa: treaty trader, treaty investor, the fiancé of a U.S. citizen. As of March 17, 2003, citizens of Ireland and British Commonwealth countries resident in Canada or Bermuda will require a visa, unless they are a national of a country under the Visa Waiver Program.

Additional information on entry and visa requirements for Canadian citizens:

As a standard part of the visa process, the State Department is now requiring that consular officers interview almost every applicant. Some consulates may have a long wait for an interview so applicants should contact the consulate to schedule an interview as early as possible. Furthermore, many visa applications are sent to the State Department in Washington, D.C. to be reviewed by several agencies. Because of the number of visa applications and the need for thorough security reviews, the 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 for details on visa application procedures at that post.

Visa applicants are expected to provide evidence that they are intending to return to their country of residence. Therefore, applicants should provide proof of “binding” or sufficient ties to their home country or permanent residence abroad. This may include documentation of the following:

  • family ties in home country or country of legal permanent residence
  • property ownership
  • bank accounts
  • employment contract or statement from employer stating that the position will continue when the employee returns

Visa applications are more likely to be successful if done in a visitor’s home country than in a third country.

Applicants should present their entire trip itinerary, including travel to any countries other than the United States, at the time of their visa application.

Include a letter of invitation from the meeting organizer or the U.S. host specifying the subject, location and dates of the activity, and how travel and local expenses will be covered.

If travel plans will depend on early approval of the visa application, specify this at the time of the application. Provide proof of professional scientific and/or educational status (students should provide a university transcript).

Committed to encouraging international scientific exchange and collaboration, the International Visitors Office has been collecting data on the problems that scientists and engineers are experiencing with visa applications. This data will be analyzed and used in ongoing efforts to increase scientific freedom. If you or someone you know has experienced difficulties in applying for a visa, you can report your case by submitting a Visa Questionnaire.

Due to increased safety and security measures, many applicants may now be asked to appear for a personal interview at the U.S. consulate. Applicants should take this into consideration and start the process as early as possible since some consulates may have long waiting times for interviews (weeks to several months).

Scientists and students will most likely 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.

Nationals from countries on the list of State Sponsors of Terrorism (Syria, Sudan, and Iran) must go through a special security clearance process that will usually take several months.

For visas delayed longer than two months, applicants should contact the consulate where the application was submitted. In addition, the International Visitors Office regularly reports to the Department of State all visa cases (submitted through the Visa Questionnaire) that have been pending for longer than 30 days.

The most frequent reason given for visa denials is Section 214(b) of the Immigration and Nationality Act: failure to overcome the presumption of immigrant intent. An applicant must convince a consular officer that he has sufficient “binding ties” to his home country or place of permanent residence that will make him return there after his visit to the United States. Students and applicants from high visa fraud countries are more likely to have their applications denied under 214(b).

Occasionally the consular decision cites Section 221(g): lack of sufficient documentation or information needed to make a determination. In this type of case, there may be a notation that the applicant can reapply with the missing documents. This citation is also used when the processing of the visa is still incomplete or requires a security review before it can be issued.

Another reason for visa denials is a long-forgotten status violation or minor criminal conviction during an earlier visit. For example, an applicant who once overstayed his allowed period of stay might be denied a new visa. A former visitor who was ever convicted of any crime, even with a suspended sentence, may also be denied a visa.

All visa denials are reviewed by the consular officer’s superior and must be accompanied by a written statement citing the reason for the denial. While the decision of the consular officer is final, in many cases, an applicant can reapply for a visa only if he has additional information that was not provided with the previous application. For further information on visa denials and how to reapply for a visa, see the State Department’s page on visa denials.

A visa does not guarantee entry into the United States. A visa allows a foreign citizen to travel to the U.S. port-of-entry, and the Department of Homeland Security U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) immigration inspector authorizes or denies admission to the United States.

Also known as Form I-94, Arrival-Departure Record. Effective May 25, 2013, a new electronic I-94 process was fully implemented at air and sea ports-of-entry. Under the new process, a CBP official at the port-of-entry provides each admitted nonimmigrant traveler (all non-U.S. citizens) with an admission stamp on their passport. CBP will no longer issue a paper form I-94, with some exceptions. Learn more on the CBP website.

On the admission stamp or paper Form I-94, the CBP official records either a date or “D/S” (duration of status). If your admission stamp or paper Form I-94 contains a specific date, then that is the date by which you must leave the United States. If you were issued a paper Form I-94, it is important to keep this card safe because it shows the length of time you are permitted and authorized by DHS to stay in the United States. It is best kept stapled with your passport, kept in a safe place. The visitors return the I-94 card when they leave the country.

This generally means the visa is valid, or can be used, from the date it is issued until the date it expires, for travel for the same purpose for visas, when the visa is issued for multiple entries. The visa expiration date is shown on the visa. Depending on the alien’s nationality, visas can be issued for any number of entries, from as little as one entry to as many as multiple (unlimited) entries, for the same purpose of travel. If you travel frequently as a tourist for example, with a multiple entry visa, you do not have to apply for a new visa each time you want to travel to the United States. As an example of travel for the same purpose, if you have a visitor visa, it cannot be used to enter at a later time to study in the United States. The visa validity is the length of time you are permitted to travel to a port-of-entry in the United States to request permission of the U.S. immigration inspector to enter the United States. The visa does not guarantee entry to the United States. The Expiration Date for the visa should not be confused with the authorized length of your stay in the United States, given to you by the U.S. immigration inspector at port-of-entry, on the admission stamp or paper Form I-94 Arrival/Departure Record.

The visa expiration date has nothing to do with the authorized length of your stay in the United States for any given visit.There are circumstances which can serve to void or cancel the period of time your visa is valid. If you overstay the end date of your authorized stay, as provided by the DHS’s U.S. immigration officer at port of entry, or USCIS, then this action on your part generally will automatically void or cancel your visa. However, if you have filed an application in a timely manner for extension of stay or a change of status, and that application is pending and not frivolous, and if you did not engage in unauthorized employment, then this normally does not automatically cancel your visa. If you have applied for adjustment of status to become a permanent resident alien (“green card” holder), you should contact USCIS regarding obtaining Advance Parole before leaving the U.S.

Health Insurance. Medical care in the United States can be very expensive. All visitors should carry adequate health insurance valid for the duration of their stay in the United States.

Driving in the United States. Visitors who wish to rent cars must have a major credit card and a valid driver’s license from their own country. In some cases, an international driver’s license may be required. Contact the car rental company directly for specific information.

Required Change of Address Notice. Visitors staying in the United States longer than six months must notify the U.S. government of any change in their residential address within ten (10) days or face serious consequences. Address notification should be made directly to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) using their required form.

Registration. Federal law requires that all non-U.S. citizens carry evidence of their lawful status with them at all times. This is especially important for all travel, international or domestic. It is advisable to keep copies of all pages of the passport, visa, I-94 Arrival-Departure card, and supporting documents such as DS-2019 forms, in a safe place in case of loss of the original documents.

Special Registration. On December 1, 2003, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) suspended the National Security Entry/Exit Registration System (NSEERS) requirement that mandated aliens to re-register after 30-days and one year of continuous presence in the United States. Further details about special registration procedures are available on the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement site.