Visa Types

It is important that you have the correct visa and status if you are to receive any form of financial reimbursement or payment while at the Institute. Please check your visa when it is issued and the status you are given (B1 vs. B2 for example) when you enter the U.S., to be certain that you have been given the proper one. NOTE: For a variety of reasons, many U.S. embassies are taking much longer to process visa paperwork than they have in the past. Please apply early for your paperwork to be processed.

Following are the most frequently requested visas: 

B-1: Visitors' Visa for Business --- This visa allows visitors to be reimbursed for travel expenses and subsistence. It is initiated in the home country and no letter of invitation is needed. 

B-2: Visitors and Pleasure Visa --- B-2 visa holders may be reimbursed for reasonable travel and incidental expenses incurred in connection with a usual academic activity not exceeding 9 days in duration, provided that such individual has not received travel and incidental expenses from more than 5 educational institutions in the previous 6-month period.

W-B: Waiver Program --- If you are eligible to enter the U.S. on the waiver program (without a visa) and you are to receive any financial reimbursement while you are here, your passport must be marked WB at the point of entry. Please note: this is technically not a visa; it is a status that you must obtain when you enter the U.S. You must receive this WB status in order for KITP to be able to reimburse you.  If you have a WT status, you will be subject to the same 9 day rule as the B-2 visa holder (see above).

J-1: Exchange Visitor Visa --- This is the most flexible visa as a salary may be paid as well as travel reimbursement. It is also the proper visa to travel on if you plan to vacation in the U.S, before or after your visit to KITP or if you will be coming with children who will need to attend school.

H-1: Temporary Worker of Distinguished Merit and Ability --- This is a visa giving nonimmigrant status to a visitor who is coming to work temporarily in the U.S. Its maximum time period is five years. To acquire an H-1 visa takes considerable documentation and time (at least four to six months) and is not recommended for short stays.

It is very important that you be covered by health insurance while in the U.S. Please arrange to get such insurance before you leave your home country.

Note: If you will have a visa (J or H) issued by another institution, please contact Timber Kelley at myvisit@kitp.ucsb.edu for instructions.

We are finding the B-1 visa to be less secure for many visitors who are coming for longer stays. Please consider getting a J-1 visa if you will be here for more than 3 weeks and plan to travel on a B-1 visa.

Immigration Officials have been given increased discretion when determining the period of stay in the U.S. for the W- and B- categories. We have been advised that proof of the length of your visit may be required to receive permission to stay in the U.S. in excess of 30 days regardless of the longer period actually allowed. Please bring your invitation letter with you so that you may establish your visit dates should it be necessary to do so.

THIS VISA MAY NOT BE USED FOR STAYS IN EXCESS OF 6 MONTHS AND IS NOT RECOMMENDED IF YOU WILL BE VACATIONING OR COMING WITH CHILDREN WHO WILL NEED TO ATTEND SCHOOL IN THE U.S.  Please click on the J-1 tab for more information.

When you receive this visa from the U.S. Embassy or Consulate, you may notice that it says B1/B2. This allows you to enter the U.S. either for business (B-1) or as a tourist (B-2), but it is only when you enter the U.S. that your actual status is determined. At that time, the U.S. Immigration Official marks on the I-94 card or passport that they give to you either B-1 or B-2--not a combination. It is this status that determines our ability to reimburse you for your travel and local expenses. You must be absolutely certain that Immigration has indicated on your I-94 card or passport that you have been admitted into the U.S. in the B-1 status because you will not be able to receive financial reimbursement for more than 9 days if you have a B-2 status marked on your I-94 card or passport.

The Institute is required to send a photocopy of each I-94 card and passport to the University's Accounting Office. If your card or passport indicates a B-2 status, the University will not be able to reimburse you for more than 9 days. I am sorry to say that it is your responsibility to make certain that the status/admission category you have been granted is correct. I cannot emphasize enough how important it is for you to double-check what U.S. Immigration writes on your I-94 card or passport before you accept it.

Please contact the Visa Specialist  if you have any questions.

The J-1 Visa is the most flexible visa as a salary may be paid as well as travel reimbursement. It is also the proper visa to travel on if you plan to vacation in the U.S. before or after your visit to KITP or will be coming with children who will need to attend school.

Note: This Visa may be subject to the skills list and a two-year residency requirement. It is advisable to check in one’s home country to see if this restriction applies.

If you choose to apply for the J-1 Visa, plan to begin the application process at least 3 - 6 months prior to your visit at KITP. (The host institution must prepare a DS-2019 form which is a Request for the J-1 Visa.) This request can be started as much as six months in advance of your arrival.

This procedure has changed – If you wish to apply for a J-1 Visa, please contact the Visa Specialist.

There are many countries with which the U.S. has an immigration agreement that allows its citizens to enter the U.S. for up to 90 days without a visa. This is known as the visa waiver program (VWP). If you are eligible to enter the U.S. under the terms of the waiver program (see list), then this allows the KITP to reimburse you for travel and local expenses for a period of up to 90 days without a visa provided you obtain the correct -- business -- status (W-B).

Not all countries participate in the VWP, and not all travelers from VWP countries are eligible to use the program. VWP travelers are screened prior to admission into the United States but do not need to go to a U.S. Embassy/Consulate.

The waiver agreement requires that you have a passport from a participating country, have a round-trip ticket in hand, stay within the 90 day limit, and demonstrate financial solvency (your KITP financial commitment letter will suffice).

You must have a machine readable passport and have an ESTA authorization.

Please click on the Waiver Updates tab for the latest information.

Do not get a tourist waiver!! This status restricts tourist (WT) status holders to a 9-day (not the 90 days possible with the WB) period of reimbursement. Please be aware of this restriction and do not say you are a tourist.

Please check the State Department site for a list of those countries with Waiver Agreements.

Please Note: Immigration Officials have been given increased discretion when determining the period of stay in the U.S. for the W- and B- categories. We have been advised that proof of the length of your visit may be required to receive permission to stay in the U.S. in excess of 30 days regardless of the longer period actually allowed. Please bring your invitation letter with you so that you may establish your visit dates should it be necessary to do so. Please contact the Visa Specialist if you have any questions.

Note: if you plan to vacation before or after your visit to KITP or will be coming with children who will need to attend school, please click to the J-1 tab for more information.

Notices:

Since 2009, all nationals and citizens of Visa Waiver Program (VWP) countries have been required by law to obtain a travel authorization prior to initiating travel to the United States under the VWP. This authorization may be obtained online through the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA™),  administered by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) through a U.S. government Web site.

On March 4, 2010, President Obama signed into law the Travel Promotion Act (TPA) of 2009, Pub. L. No. 111-145. The Act directs the Secretary of Homeland Security to establish a fee for the use of the ESTA system, comprised of $10.00 for each VWP applicant receiving authorization to travel to the United States and $4.00 for the processing of the ESTA application.


Implementation of Changes to the Visa Waiver Program

Updates to the Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act of 2015

Release Date: February 18, 2016

The Director of National Intelligence and the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Homeland Security has determined that Libya, Somalia, and Yemen be included as countries of concern, specifically for individuals who have traveled to these countries since March 1, 2011.

https://www.cbp.gov/travel/international-visitors/visa-waiver-program


Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act of 2015

Release Date: January 21, 2016

Under the Act, travelers in the following categories are no longer eligible to travel or be admitted to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP):

  • Nationals of VWP countries who have traveled to or been present in Iran, Iraq, Sudan, or Syria on or after March 1, 2011.
  • Nationals of VWP countries who are also nationals of Iran, Iraq, Sudan, or Syria.

https://www.dhs.gov/news/2016/01/21/united-states-begins-implementation-changes-visa-waiver-program


As of October 26, 2004, all citizens of countries participating in the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) who wish to enter the U.S. visa-free must present a machine-readable passport (MRP).

VWP nationals who do not have MRPs must obtain a U.S. non-immigrant visa. One-time exceptions are no longer granted!

This change affects only visa waiver travel. Applicants for visas at U.S. consular sections are not required to obtain MRPs, regardless of the category of visa being sought.

This change includes all categories of passports-- tourist, diplomatic, and official. Bearers of diplomatic and official passports that are not machine-readable will need visas beginning October 26, 2004.

Families and groups should obtain an individual passport for each traveler, including infants. MRPs typically have biodata for only one traveler in the machine-readable zone (MRZ), and families may be denied visa-free entry into the U.S. if the biodata for only one traveler is machine-readable.

Additionally, all passports issued on or after October 26, 2006 must be biometric (e-passports).  You will not be required to have a biometric passport to travel on the waiver if your passport has been issued prior to that date (it still must be a MRP), but you will have to have a biometric passport if it is issued on or after that date.  For more detailed information please visit the U.S. Department of State Visa Waiver Program page.


PLEASE ALSO NOTE:

Many people believe that there is just one waiver status.  This is not the case.  In order for KITP to reimburse you, you must obtain a W-B status when you enter the U.S. If you do not ask for the Waiver for Business and come here with a waiver for tourism (W-T) you will not be able to get reimbursed.  Please check your passport when it is marked as it is difficult to apply for a change at a later date.