Foreign nationals may visit Fermilab temporarily to engage in meetings, brief research benefitting their home institution or collaboration, signing agreements, attending conferences, workshops, “schools” or other events, and other activities, by entering the U.S. as a “Business Visitor”. This is done either by entering with a B-1 visa (obtained from a U.S. Consulate) or using the Visa Waiver Program.
Business visitor status does not permit you to be employed by a U.S. organization (i.e. receive a salary).
There are two types of B visas: B-1 is for business visitors and B-2 is for tourists. If you want to visit Fermilab in a professional capacity, you MUST have a B-1 visa.
Usually, you will be allowed to remain in the U.S. either (1) for up to 6 months, or (2) (if coming for a conference/workshop/school) for the duration of the event. It might be possible to get a longer admission (to a maximum of 6 months) if both your home institution’s letter and Fermilab’s letter clearly justify this.
Extensions of B-1 status during your visit to the U.S. are obtained by filing an application (the filing fee for which is $300). Alternatively, you can leave the U.S. and then re-enter with your B-1 visa again (but only if the B visa has not expired).
When a person visits Fermilab under the Visa Waiver Program, s/he is seeking admission to the U.S. as a Business Visitor, but without a visa stamp. It is not a separate “category” of admission – it is just a different procedure for entry as a Business Visitor.
You can enter the U.S. under the Visa Waiver Program if you are a citizen of one of the following countries: Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brunei, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Republic of Korea, San Marino, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom.
Visa Waiver travelers no longer may simply get on a plane and arrive in the U.S. without any preparation. They must log into the “Electronic System for Travel Authorization” (ESTA) as far in advance of their travel as possible but it is recommended no less than 72 hours before departure. An ESTA authorization for travel to the U.S. will generally be valid for 2 years or until the applicant’s passport expires, whichever comes first. During this time, a new ESTA authorization is required if the traveler (1) changes his or her name; (2) changes his or her gender; (3) changes country of citizenship; or (4) should change any other answer to ESTA questions.
If you enter the U.S. under the Visa Waiver Program, you may enter for a maximum of only 90 days; you cannot extend your stay in the U.S. past 90 days; and you cannot change to any other status, such as H-1B (for employment) or J-1 (for employment or as a Visiting Scientist).
Questions? Comments? Contact the Users’ Office!