(Updated Feb. 2015)
MSRI asks all visitors who are not U.S. citizens or U.S. legal permanent residents to fill out personal information and answer the visa questionnaire on our website at www.msri.org, as instructed in our invitation letter. If you have any questions, please contact us ahead of time at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will review the situation and advise you on the type of visa to apply for.
The criteria for assessing the type of visa you will apply for varies depending on:
Membership type: Research Professor, Research Member, Post Doc or
- The length of your visit at MSRI;
- The type of payment you receive, whether it is expense reimbursement or, in rare cases, taxable income, and
- Current immigration status of international scholars presently in the U.S.
VISA OPTIONSVisa Flowchart - Visa Options
2. B1/B2 Visa
4. J-1 Visa
5. F-1 Visa
6. H1-B Visa
1. Visa Waiver Program (VWP) https://travel.state.gov/content/visas/en/visit/visa-waiver-program.html
Visa Waiver Program (VWP) allows citizens of participating countries to travel
to the United States without a visa when they meet all requirements explained
- Total visit may not exceed 90 days.
- Being an eligible national of one of the countries listed at https://help.cbp.gov/app/answers/detail/a_id/194/~/visa-waiver-program---eligible-countries.
Apply for a valid travel
authorization via the Electronic System
for Travel Authorization (ESTA) at https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov
prior to boarding an approved carrier (list at http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/87163.pdf).
- All visa waiver program participants must have a machine-readable passport (MRP) or e-passport valid for 6 months beyond the intended visit. Please make sure to check detailed passport requirements at http://travel.state.gov/content/visas/english/visit/visa-waiver-program.html.
- No extension or change of immigration status is permitted.
No payment of taxable income or
honorarium is permitted. However reimbursement for local expenses and travel is
allowed if the
"WB" notation appears on your passport (unless one is eligible for the '9 day rule'*). If you are to receive expense reimbursement, it is crucial that you receive the WB classification. Please make sure to contact us as we will prepare a letter for you to show at the port of entry in place of your original invitation letter.
Port of Entry
- You will be required to show a passport valid for six months beyond the intended visit dates and a return trip ticket at the American port of entry or land border. The immigration official at the U.S. inspection point will place an entry stamp in your passport. It will be stamped with the entry date and bear the designation "WT"(waiver tourist) or "WB" (waiver business).
If you are to receive local and/or travel expenses, it is critical
that you inform the immigration official and show
the letter we prepared to help you obtain the "WB" designation on your entry stamp.
Note: The Department of Homeland Security recommends that ESTA
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, in
which case you need to apply for a visitor visa.
For more information see http://travel.state.gov/visa/temp/temp_1305.html
If you are not eligible for the
Visa Waiver Program, you will need to apply for a visitor visa at a U.S.
embassy or consulate. Check the U.S. Department of State website for detailed
information at http://travel.state.gov/content/visas/english/visit/visitor.html, and the website of the embassy or consulate you will
go to in order to get specific instructions prior to your appointment.
The Visitor Visa stamp is usually
issued as a combined B-1/B-2, business/tourist stamp, sometimes issued for
multiple entries (M), and valid for up to ten years.
The B-1 business classification
allows for "usual academic activities" such as workshops and
collaborations and for travel reimbursement and incidental expenses (no salary
or honorarium), whereas 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*).
If you are to receive expense reimbursement, it is crucial that you
receive the B-1 classification. Please
make sure to contact us as we will prepare a letter for you to show at the port
of entry in place of your original invitation letter. This same letter should
be used when applying for the visa stamp at the U.S. consulate or embassy.
The Immigration official at the
port of entry will indicate either the B-1 or the B-2 designation on your
passport entry stamp. Make sure to show your MSRI visa designation request letter
and mention to the official that you will receive reimbursement which requires
the B-1 designation.
If you already have a B visa and intend to use it, please
email us (email@example.com) and we
will prepare a letter to ensure that you
get the B1 designation.
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 entry stamp 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 U.S. institution, if the
visitor has not accepted such payment from more
than 5 U.S. institutions in the previous 6-month period.
a visa stamp is not required to enter the U.S., if you are to receive travel reimbursement and/or incidental expenses
reimbursement, you must inform the immigration officer at entry and request
that the B-1 or business
written on the entry stamp. If the B-2 visa or tourist classification is designated, then reimbursement is not allowed (unless the 9-day rule* applies). Please note that non-citizen Canadian residents require a visa to enter the U.S.
Please fill out the visa
questionnaire online to help us to determine if you will be coming on a J-1
Visa. We will prepare the DS-2019
form/s for you to apply for the J-1 visa (and J-2 visas for accompanying family members) only once we have all needed
- your exact travels dates, and
other professional plans you might have in the U.S. just before or after your
stay at MSRI.
We will send you the DS 2019 form/s
via FedEx along with instructions regarding payment of the SEVIS fee online and
information to apply for a visa at a U.S. embassy or consulate in your home country.
Note: Please check-in in the
administrative area upon arrival at MSRI and bring along all of your original travel and visa-related documents. Please make sure to schedule an appointment with the International
Scholar Advisor at that time in order to go through mandatory orientation and
activate your record in SEVIS.
Please check our information handouts:
If you are on a F-1 visa at
another institution, please contact your
International Scholar Advisor at
your home institution
to confirm that you are allowed to visit MSRI and be reimbursed if offered.
Please be aware that there are severe restrictions
on the H-1B employment visa, which is employer specific, job specific,
If you are presently in the U.S. on
an H-1B visa at another institution and will be attending MSRI for more than 30
days, please contact
your H1-B Advisor to confirm your legal ability to visit and/or be reimbursed. MSRI can petition for an H-1B visa only in extremely rare instances.
who are coming from another U.S. institution to participate in a program at
MSRI should contact their International Advisor to
make sure they have permission to visit and/or to be reimbursed.
If you are in any other immigration status and have questions, do not hesitate to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org Please make sure to do so at least three months before your stay at MSRI.