To learn more about the types of travels visas available and procedures for applying to obtain a travel visa, we recommend you access information posted on the US State Department website at http://travel.state.gov/visa/temp/types/types_1262.html. There you will find application forms as well as answers to Frequently Asked Questions, including “How and where do I apply?”, “What documentation is required?”, “What fees apply?” and “How long will it take to obtain a visa?”
We recommend that if you will require a travel visa to attend the ESA Annual Meeting:
- Apply for your visa EARLY. The US Consular Services suggest you begin the visa application process at least 60 days prior to your travel date. You may call the Consular Section of your local Embassy to find out how long the wait time is to get an interview.
- Present you visa letter of invitation to the Consular Officer during the visa interview. The visa letter of invitation, though not required for the visa application, can assist as a supporting document. (You can request a letter of invitation only after you have submitted an abstract for presentation or registered to attend the Annual Meeting.)
- If possible, show proof that your have traveled internationally before and have returned within the time restrictions of your visa.
Letter of Invitation
As noted above, if you require a letter of invitation to support your visa application, you must first submit an abstract for presentation or register to attend the Annual Meeting. Once you receive an Abstract Submission Reference Number or a Registration Confirmation Notice, please send your request for a letter of invitation by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or by fax to the ESA Registrar at 1-202-833-8775. To ensure timely processing, the request must include your:
- First and last name;
- Affiliation (company, organization, or school);
- Abstract Submission Reference Number of the date your meeting registration was submitted;
- Complete mailing address (street, city, state or province, zip or postal code, and country); and
- Email address (if any).
- Type of presentation (e.g., oral, contributed oral, poster)
In the interest of expedience, letters of invitation are typically provided in printable electronic format and sent as an attachment to an email message. However, ESA staff will provide a signed original document by mail upon request.
Since ESTA was unveiled on January 12, 2009, it hasn’t been strictly enforced. Those who didn’t apply for ESTA were given a friendly reminder to do so next time. But starting January 20, 2010, the program has new teeth and, according to the Web site, “VWP travelers who have not received an ESTA approval … may be denied boarding. CBP [U.S. Customs and Border Protection] will handle emergencies on a case-by-case basis.” On January 20, DHS officials initiated a 60-day transition to enforced ESTA compliance for air carriers. After that period, the I-94W forms will be eliminated, and airlines risk fines for allowing travelers to board without the proper documentation.
What does this mean for meetings? The U.S. Office of Travel and Tourism advises planners to alert international members and attendees to these new regulations. They should also post reminders on conference Web sites and registration Web pages and provide a link to the ESTA Web site.