Foreign nationals may visit Fermilab temporarily to engage in meetings, brief research benefiting 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. If you are not sure if you need a visa, you can use the Department of State’s Visa Wizard to find out.
Business visitor status does not permit you to be employed by a U.S. organization (e.g., receive a salary).
All business visitors must first receive an Invitation Letter from the Foreign Visits & Assignments Group.
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 be admitted into the US in B-1 status.
Usually, you will be allowed to remain in the U.S. either (1) for up to six months, or (2) (if coming for a conference, workshop or school) for the duration of the event. It might be possible to get a longer admission (to a maximum of six 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 United States are obtained by filing an application (the filing fee for which is $300). Alternatively, you can leave the United States and then re-enter with your B-1 visa again (but only if the B visa has not expired).
You may learn more about the B-1 visas on the Department of State website.
Visa waiver program and ESTA
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 may learn more about the Visa Waiver program on the Department of State website.
- If coming for a meeting, research or similar activities, contact your experiment spokesperson or department head. They will begin an internal process that results in the issuance of an invitation letter to you from Fermilab. If coming for a workshop, conference, school or other Fermilab event, the event organizers will issue an invitation letter to you. In either case, the invitation letter confirms the purpose and duration of the event or activity. See the Foreign Visits and Assignments website.
- Obtain a letter from your home institution. The Visa Office strongly recommends that you do not apply for a B-1 visa without this;
- If applying for a B-1 visa: Apply for a B-1 visa at the U.S. consulate in your country of current residence, a country where you are visiting for business or other purposes, or your country of nationality. Please note that the visa application process can extend up to three or more months, depending on circumstances and the backlog of work at the particular consulate. (If entering under the Visa Waiver Program, skip this step.)
Workshop, conference,and school attendees who have registered online with the Conference Office will be issued temporary badges upon arrival at Fermilab. Your name also will be on a list for security.
When you arrive at Fermilab’s entry gates, you must present photo identification (driver’s license, state ID or university ID, for example) before being permitted on site. The guard can provide directions to specific locations on site.
Information about Fermilab and the surrounding area is available on the Users Office website, including topics such as housing, banks, driving privileges, car rental, and life in the U.S.
Further information about conferences, workshops and schools at Fermilab is available from our Conference Office.
Questions? Comments? Contact the Visa Office!