The process can take anywhere from one to three months - and sometimes longer, depending on the country of origin. SPI notes that the process involves:
- Making an appointment for an interview at the U.S. embassy
or consulate in one's home country.
- Submitting an application, passport and supporting documents at the
- Allowing for a period of time after the interview for the application to be reviewed and processed.
The U.S. government has extensive information on the visa process at www.unitedstatesvisas.gov/index.html. This web site includes a page with links to the sites of U.S. embassies and consulates throughout the world, typically providing local visa information in the host-country language as well as English. NPE registrants can obtain additional visa information and assistance by clicking on the "International" button at www.npe.org.
"Some international registrants for our last NPE in 2006 were unable to attend because they did not obtain visas in time, and we have since seen similar problems for other events in the United States," says Gene Sanders, SPI's vice president in charge of trade shows.
Currently, citizens of only 27 countries do not need a visa to enter the United States. However, even travelers from these "Visa Waiver Program" countries are facing increased requirements for entering the U.S. Since 2006, VWP travelers have needed machine-readable "e-passports," and as of January 2009, all VWP travelers will be required to complete Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) applications detailing their travel plans prior before their travel to the United States. If the application is rejected, then the traveler will need to apply for a visa. Information on countries participating in the VWP is available at travel.state.gov.