Depending on your country of origin and length of stay in the United States, you may or may not require a visa to enter the US to attend the IAB World Congress of Bioethics 2020. Please note that obtaining a visa is solely the responsibility of attendees and other participants. The University of Pennsylvania is not sponsoring or able to obtain visas for attendees of this event. It is important that registrants needing visas apply early enough to complete the visa application process. We recommend that you apply as soon as you possibly can for your visa. Available appointment dates at US consulates abroad and visa processing times may vary.
How to Obtain a Visa
For most foreign nationals, a visa must be obtained from a United States Department of State (DOS) consulate abroad. The visa is placed in the traveler’s passport and can be used to seek entry into the US for activities consistent with the individual category. Please refer to the DOS website for more information on obtaining a visa.
There are several steps required to apply for a visa. Individual consulates may have unique processes for visa applicants. Therefore, please check the individual consulate’s website for more information on applying.
The following are the general visa application steps:
You must schedule an appointment for your visa interview, generally, at the US Embassy or Consulate in the country where you live. You may schedule your interview at any US Embassy or Consulate, but we recommend that you apply in your country of residence. Wait times for interview appointments vary by location, season, and visa category, so you should apply for your visa early. A current list of wait times can be found here.
After your visa interview, your application may require further administrative processing and you should be informed by the consular officer if further processing is necessary for your application.
Visa Waiver Program
This program enables most citizens or nationals of participating countries to travel to the United States for tourism or business for stays of 90 days or less without obtaining a visa. Travelers must have a valid Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) approval prior to travel.
You must be a citizen or national of a participating country to be eligible to travel to the United States under the VWP.
More information on the visa waiver program can be found here.
Individuals Subject to Travel Restrictions
Citizens of Iran, Libya, Syria, Somalia, Chad, Yemen, along with citizens of North Korea and some government officials from Venezuela are ineligible for certain visas based on a recent US executive order. Citizens of these countries should verify with a US consulate abroad if they are able to obtain the necessary visa to attend IAB World Congress of Bioethics 2020.
A recent Presidential Proclamation expanded the travel ban by placing visa and entry restrictions on travelers from six additional countries: Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, Myanmar, Nigeria, Sudan, and Tanzania. The restrictions go into place on February 21, 2020 and will apply to anyone from these countries who is applying for immigrant visas from abroad (ie, to stay in the USA permanently). The proclamation places no restrictions on nonimmigrant (temporary) visas. Therefore, visas requested for attending the WCB (typically B-1/B-2 visitor visas) should not be affected by this proclamation. If you have any questions or concerns about how the new rules impact you plans to attend the WCB, or if are told by anyone who formally assists with processing your visa application that the new rules prevent you from attending the WCB, please reach out as soon as possible to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please obtain your visa as soon as possible.
Please review the above information carefully to determine your visa needs. Please do not leave visa planning to the last minute. If there should be any issues that are not addressed here, and that you are unable to resolve by checking the information provided at links, please email email@example.com. We will then connect you with advisors at Penn’s International Student and Scholar Services. Note that their ability to help is highly dependent on when they are contacted, and how precisely the nature of the problem is articulated.
WCB VISA Buddies
Oftentimes, obtaining a visa doesn’t just require carefully reading and completing forms on time, but a range of other things. If you have never navigated this, it can be daunting. A good first step is to read all information provided below. Explore, in particular, the more specific information that embassies or consulates in the city where you plan to obtain your visa make available. If there is a single thing that we would emphasize, it’s to start your visa application process as early as you can!
Once you have a basic orientation, it can also help to talk to someone who has already obtained a visa to the USA.
If there is no one you can turn to, a WCB visa buddy can hopefully help, i.e., someone who has your nationality, is also coming to the WCB, and has already obtained their visa (whether for the WCB, or in the past).
SIGN UP TO BE A VISA BUDDY:
If you would like to become a visa buddy and would be willing to be contacted by colleagues with your nationality who have remaining questions, please complete the Become a Visa Buddy form.
REQUESTING A VISA BUDDY:
For all inquiries regarding the visa buddy process, please email Mary Pham at Mary.Pham@pennmedicine.upenn.edu. Mary will be in touch to send contact details for colleagues who agree to be visa buddies.
We will only share visa buddies’ emails for the single purpose of helping with the visa process. Both individuals who are already in our system as a presenter may request contact details, as well as those who wish to attend without presenting.
There are three important general disclaimers that are variations of a theme: While we are happy to facilitate contact, we are also extremely limited in how the initiative will play out. So:
LETTER OF INVITATION
Contact us to obtain an invitation letter to IAB World Congress of Bioethics 2020. The Letter of Invitation will be sent on behalf of the Congress to attendees traveling from other countries that will require visas. Prior to requesting a Letter, attendees must agree that the purpose of the invitation is only to assist participants with obtaining a visa to travel to the Congress and does not represent a commitment on the part of IAB, WCB, FAB, or TMG to provide any financial support or further assistance with the visa process. Bursary recipients will receive separate confirmations about the extent of financial assistance, and are free to use funds to cover costs associated with their VISA application. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to request a Letter of Invitation.