VISA Information

If you require a visa to enter the United States to attend the 12th World Congress  on Intelligent Transport Systems November 6-10 2005 in San Francisco California , you should apply now! Even if you didn't need a visa for a previous World Congress held in the United States, 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. To request a 12th World Congress invitation letter, contact to Patty Del Pozo at

Visa applicants are advised to apply as soon as they decide to travel to the United States and at least 6 months in advance.

Do I need a visa to travel to the United States?

This page is intended to provide general information to individuals planning to visit the United States temporarily for the 12th World Congress on Intelligent Transport Systems in San Francisco California, November 6-10, 2005. The purpose of the visit determines what type of visa will be needed. Visitors planning to visit or attend the 12th World Congress 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




Temporary visitor for business (ex. business meetings, international conferences)


Temporary visitor for pleasure (ex. tourism, family visits)


Academic student (undergraduate and graduate students at universities)


Exchange visitors (ex. postdoctoral students and research scholars)


Temporary specialty worker


Extraordinary ability in sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics

Complete List of Nonimmigrant Visa Categories

Visa Waiver Program (VWP)
Citizens of the following countries do not need a U.S. visa for business or tourism visits of less than 90 days. However, if you will be receiving any compensation for your services or activities (i.e. lectures, presentations, etc.), you must apply for a visa.

By October 26, 2004, all VWP travelers will be required to have a machine-readable passport (MRP) in order to enter the United States without a visa. The deadline for each country is listed below. The deadline for the biometric passport requirement has been extended by one year to October 26, 2005. Only the biometric passport requirement has been extended NOT the machine-readable passport. For additional details on the Visa Waiver Program, see the State Department?s Visa Waiver Program webpage.

















San Marino




























the Netherlands






New Zealand


United Kingdom


Canadian Citizens and Landed Immigrants
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 fianc? 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:

  • U.S. Embassy in Ottawa
  • Documentary Requirements for United States Citizens and Foreign Visitors Entering the United States from Canada and Mexico

    How do I apply for a visa?

    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. Also, see the State Department Notice on Current Visa Processing Situation.

    Tips for Successful Visa Applications

    • 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).

    For more information on applying for visas see:
    Information on applying for a U.S. nonimmigrant visa

    Information on reciprocity tables, visa fees, security checks

    What can I do if my visa is delayed or denied?

    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.

    Visa delays
    Due to increased security measures, many applicants must now 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 (several weeks to a month).

    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 (North Korea, Cuba, Syria, Sudan, Iran, Iraq, and Libya) must go through a special security clearance process that will usually take several months.

    Visa delays may also occur if a foreign national travels outside the United States for a temporary visit. For more information, see the Traveling from the United States section on this site.

    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.

    Visa denials
    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.

    What should I do once I arrive in the United States?

    All travelers arriving in the United States are met by an immigration inspector who examines each passport and visa, validates the Arrival-Departure (I-94) card, and determines the length of time the visitor may stay in the United States. While the visa issued by the consulate allows a visitor to apply for admission to the United States, the final decision is made by the immigration inspector. Visitors should be prepared to explain what they will be doing during their visit, where they will stay, and when they plan to return to their country.

    Since January 5, 2004, all visitors to the United States holding a non-immigrant U.S. visa are photographed and fingerprinted upon arrival. After September 30, 2004 this will apply to all visitors under the Visa Waiver Program as well. For further information see the Department of Homeland Security US-VISIT Program.

    Visa Validity, Single/Multiple-entry Visas, Length of Stay
    The visa validity date is the time period during which the applicant must use the visa to enter the United States. A person with a multiple-entry visa valid for one year can make several trips to the United States during that year. Some people will be issued single-entry visas only; therefore if they travel outside the United States they must apply for another visa before they return. The visa validity date has nothing to do with the length of stay which is determined by the immigration official at the port of entry.

    Additional Information
    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.

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