Summer School on Global Sustainability-U.S. Visa Requirements

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Summer School on Global Sustainability


Scholars and researchers from around the world have attended Santa Fe Institute Summer Schools during the past 20 years. Most foreign participants have entered the U.S. with no problems. However, it is very important to determine any visa needs you may have well in advance of your visit. We strongly advise you to check with authorities in your own country to determine whether you will need a visa to come to the Summer School, and if so, to determine which visa status is best for you. The following information about visa types may be helpful.

Citizens of some countries (including most European Union countries) may be able to enter the U.S. for stays of up to 90 days without a visa (a valid passport is still required). In addition to citizenship in one of the visa waiver countries, there are a number of other eligibility requirements that must be met. Please contact the U.S. Embassy in your country to determine whether you qualify for a visa waiver. For general information:

It is no longer necessary to apply for a visa at an American consulate or embassy. Instead, you are required to present a machine readable passport and to go online and register with the Electronic System for Travel Authorization no less than 72 hours before departure. ESTA is a government pre-screening registration required for visitors from visa waiver countries before they enter the U.S. You should print your ESTA application response and carry it with you when you travel, to serve as confirmation of your registration. The new ESTA registration is valid for two years. You will present both your ESTA response and your completed I-94 form when you enter the U.S.

Many participants of SFI projects enter the U.S. on a B1/B2 (business/tourist) visa. We have been informed that the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services (BCIS) is planning to implement more stringent limits on the length of stay allowed on B visas. Check with the U.S. Embassy in your country before applying for this visa to confirm that it will meet your needs, especially if you plan to spend extra time in the U.S. before or after the summer school.

PLEASE MAKE SURE YOU HAVE A BUSINESS VISA -– B1 OR WB WHEN YOU COME THROUGH CUSTOMS. (It is also acceptable to have it marked as B1/B2 or WB/WT.)

WE CANNOT REIMBURSE YOU OR PAY FOR ANY EXPENSES (INCLUDING PROVIDING YOUR HOUSING AND MEALS) IF YOU HAVE TOURIST STATUS. If your visa is marked for tourism only (B2 visa, or a passport marked WT in case of visa waiver), we will not be able to reimburse you or pay for ANY of your expenses.

Be sure to explain to the BCIS official that you are coming to the U.S. for business purposes to attend a training program.

It is YOUR responsibility to present U.S. consular officials with all application requirements and supporting documents in a manner that can be reviewed quickly and provide substantial evidence for visa approval. It is best to apply for a visa as soon as possible, as the approval process can take two months or more in some cases.

For more information on U.S. Embassy locations and visa procedures in your own country, visit: Please contact SFI’s Visa Assistant, Laura Ware ( if you have questions about visa issues.