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Visa Information

Travel to the United States (US) involves additional planning. Please determine whether you will require a visa to enter the US and plan ahead. The following guidelines will assist you in obtaining a visa:

Official Invitation Letter

Please note: It is the sole responsibility of the attendee to obtain the necessary paperwork for entry to the US. This letter does not guarantee that you will be granted a visa, nor does it commit SPE to assist you in obtaining a visa. SPE will not pay any expenses incurred by you. We cannot send the letter to the embassy or consulate for you, nor can SPE contact the embassy or consulate on your behalf.

Applying for a Visa

  • Review visa wait times and then visit your local US embassy or consular office website where you will apply for your visa. There you can find out how to schedule an interview appointment, pay fees, and any other instructions.
  • Plan on an interview at the embassy or consulate, which is required for most visa applicants. As part of the visa interview, a quick fingerprint scan should be expected. Applicants who need additional screening are informed during the application process.
  • Prior to your scheduled interview date, you can complete the visa application online.
  • If you reside in Nigeria, China, or Ghana, click here to view specific visa guidelines and contacts for your country.

Passport Guidelines

Learn more about the US Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA), an online application system for all travelers from Visa Waiver Countries only. As of 12 January 2009, it is mandatory for all visa waiver travelers to be approved for ESTA.

For those traveling to the US without a visa from the 27 Visa Waiver Program (VWP) countries, a machine-readable passport is now required. If your country is not yet issuing machine-readable passports, you will need to obtain a visa.

  • As of 26 October 2006, any passport issued on or after this date by a VWP country must be an e-Passport to be eligible to enter the US without a visa.
  • Older, but still valid, machine-readable passports issued after 26 October 2005 require a digital photograph printed on the data page or an integrated chip with information from the data page.
  • Determine if you have a machine-readable passport or e-Passport.

Please note that the aforementioned information is a general guideline for travel to the US. Because travel requirements may change, SPE recommends that attendees contact their local embassy to ensure they have proper documentation.