Update 25 March 2012: Please see the SORMA West 2020 cancellation statement on our homepage.
SORMA West 2020 welcomes international participants; this page gives some practical information. Please familiarize yourself with travel requirements well in advance — and if you need a visa, apply early!
Do you need a visa?
Attendees from many countries will be eligible for the Visa Waiver Program.
Visiting under VWP
To take advantage of VWP, you need to register with the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) before your trip.
Consumer Protection Notice: Third parties who charge money for a “service” related to ESTA are not actually capable of expediting approval. The link shown above takes you to the official US Government site, which explains the process and provides everything you need to enroll online in ESTA for a small fee.
In general you will need either a machine-readable passport or an e-passport containing a chip in order to visit the US without a visa. Most countries have been issuing them for the last several years. Here is the US Department of Homeland Security’s illustrated guide to the eligible generations of passports.
Canada, Mexico, and Bermuda
The US has special arrangements with adjoining nations and Bermuda.
- Most Canadian citizens will not need a visa; they may enter the US using their passport, along with their Conference Registration Notice. (A passport is technically not the only acceptable document for Canadian citizens; however, we recommend it as the surest and smoothest means of entry and return.) Please request, at the port of entry, status as a Visitor for Business (B-1).
- Mexican citizens would usually apply for a Border Crossing Card or “laser visa,” and bring their passport and Conference Registration Notice. Please request, at the port of entry, status as a Visitor for Business (B-1).
How do you get a visa?
Citizens of countries not participating in the Visa Waiver Program would request a Business (B-1) visa at the nearest U.S. Consulate. Call them them to set up an appointment. When you go to the Consulate, take a copy of your Conference Registration Notice, along with your valid passport. We urge you to apply as soon as you can, because the process can take time.
Usually you would apply for a B-1 visa as a nonsponsored attendee of an international scientific workshop. The B-2 visa is for tourism and might be appropriate for companions who are not attending the conference.
The Travel site at the U.S. Department of State is the official source for information on visas and everything else you should know about visiting the US. Be sure to apply early!
Visa Letters and Other Helpful Documentation
If you need an official letter from us as part of your visa application, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Official visa letters will be sent, upon request, to people with verifiable scholarly credentials in the field who have abstracts in our database, and to non-presenting would-be attendees upon paid registration. These letters do not imply financial support or invitation by SORMA.
If you are giving a talk or poster, you will automatically receive an acceptance letter. Only submitting and presenting authors get an acceptance letter.
Copies of your round-trip itinerary, a printout of registration for SORMA, evidence of your stature as a scholar (such as your curriculum vitae, including publications list), and evidence of your binding ties to your home country are also known to be helpful in obtaining a visa. Apply as soon as you can.
If you need to specify a “local contact” or “host” for your visa or institutional paperwork, we suggest
Administrative coordinator, SORMA West 2020
LBNL, 1 Cyclotron Road, MS 50R4037D
Berkeley, CA 94720 USA
Further helpful advice may be found on the National Academies website.