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Visa Information for Short Term Visitors
Many of MSRI’s short-term visitors (most workshop participants and about 70% of members) receive travel reimbursement and/or per diem expenses only. If you are such a short-term visitor (see following worksheet), unless you are eligible for the Visa Waiver Program described below, you will need to obtain a Visitor Visa at the nearest U.S. Consulate. The Visitor Visa stamp is usually issued as a combined B-1/B-2, business/tourist stamp (sometimes issued for multiple entries (M) for up to ten years). The B-1 business classification allows for “usual academic activities” such as workshops and collaborations. The B-1 allows for travel reimbursement and incidental expenses (no salary or honorarium). The B-2 is strictly a tourist classification and DOES NOT allow for payment of any kind, including travel and expenses (unless the 9 day rule* exception applies--see info below).
At the port of entry, the Immigration official will indicate either the B-1 OR the B-2 designation on the I-94 card (a small white card which will be stapled into your passport). If you are to receive expense reimbursement, it is crucial that you receive the B-1 classification. In the inspection area you must tell the official that you will receive reimbursement which requires the B-1 designation. Show your MSRI workshop invitation letter or visa designation request memo. Check the I-94 card for the B-1 classification before leaving the inspection area.
U.S. Department of State website for estimating how long you will have to wait to get a
visa interview appointment:
CANADIAN CITIZENS PLEASE NOTE:
Effective January 12, 2009, all Visa Waiver Program travelers will be required to obtain an electronic travel authorization PRIOR to boarding a carrier. One must apply for authorization online at https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov. The Department of Homeland Security recommends that applications be submitted no less than 72 hours prior to travel, however we recommend applying far in advance in case one is not authorized online, therefore needing to make an appointment for a Visitor Visa at a U.S Embassy or Consulate.
All visa waiver program participants must have a machine-readable passport (MRP). Depending on when the passport was issued, other passport requirements apply:
If you will receive travel reimbursement and/or local incidental expenses, it is critical that you inform the official and obtain the "WB" designation on the entry stamp. As of Aug. 31, 2010 I-94 cards will no longer be issued to Visa Waiver Program travelers.
LIMITATIONS – VISA WAIVER PROGRAM
CITIZENS WHO DO NOT MEET THE PASSPORT REQUIREMENTS FOR THE VISA WAIVER PROGRAM WILL NEED TO APPLY FOR A VISITOR VISA (B-1) AT THE US CONSULATE.
For more information see: http://travel.state.gov/visa/temp/temp_1305.html
* The '9 day rule' refers to a part of the 1998 Immigration and Nationality Act, which allows a visitor admitted with a B-1, B-2, WB or WT on the I-94 card to accept honorarium, travel reimbursement and incidental expenses associated with a visit for the purpose of ‘usual academic activities’ lasting not longer than 9 days at any single US institution, if the visitor has not accepted such payment from more than 5 US institutions in the previous 6 month period.
Any form submissions you make here will not be retained or sent to MSRI staff. This site is to be used for reference only.