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:


  1. Complete the Online Non-immigrant Visa Application, Form DS-160


    • Complete the online visa application


    • Print the application form confirmation page to bring to your interview


  1. Schedule an Interview


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.


  1. Prepare for the Interview


    • Fees
      • Pay the $160 US visa application fee, if you are required to pay it before your interview
      • When your visa is approved, you may also pay a visa issuance fee, if applicable to your nationality
      • Gather Required Documentation


    • Passport valid for travel to the United States
      • Generally, your passport must be valid for at least six months beyond your period of stay in the United States.
      • If more than one person is included in your passport, each person who needs a visa must submit a separate application.
      • Nonimmigrant Visa Application, Form DS-160 confirmation page.
      • Application fee payment receipt, if you are required to pay before your interview.
      • Photo: You will upload your photo while completing the online Form DS-160. If the photo upload fails, you must bring one printed photo in the format explained in the Photograph Requirements.


  1. Attend Your Visa Interview


    • During your visa interview, a DOS consular officer will determine whether you are qualified to receive a visa, and if so, which visa category is appropriate based on your purpose of travel.


    • You will need to establish that you meet the requirements under US law to receive the category of visa for which you are applying.


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.


    • Additional documents may be requested to establish if you are qualified such as:
      • The purpose of your trip
      • Your intent to depart the United States after your trip
      • Your ability to pay all costs of the trip
      • Evidence of your employment and/or your family ties may be sufficient to show the purpose of your trip and your intent to return to your home country.


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 Please obtain your visa as soon as possible.


Further Assistance
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  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).



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.



If you have read all relevant information but have remaining questions and would like to contact a visa buddy who shares your nationality, please complete the Request a Visa Buddy form.


For all inquiries regarding the visa buddy process, please email Mary Pham at 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:


    • We (and by “we”, “us” and variations thereof we mean here and below: individual members of the conference planning group, any part of the University of Pennsylvania, the Talley Management Group, the International Association of Bioethics, or the Feminist Approaches to Bioethics) cannot accept any responsibility for any possible negative consequences that may occur. Proceed with common sense, just as you would if you’d strike up a conversation about how to obtain a visa with a new colleague at a conference.


    • Under no circumstances must WCB visa buddies request payment for their help. Their advice is not legal advice, nor otherwise binding.  Needless to say, we have no control over the form, style or quality of advice that WCB visa buddies offer. Again, use common sense and consider any advice alongside that of official sources.


    • Being a WCB visa buddy in no way means that you act with our endorsement. If we have any indication that the WCB visa buddy initiative causes significant problems, we will a) notify the IAB and/or FAB to consider whether any sanctions, such as suspending IAB/FAB membership would be appropriate, and b) will cancel the initiative instantly—so please help it succeed and approach each other in the spirit of solidarity only!




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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 to request a Letter of Invitation.



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