Chapter R

International Liaison

IEEE MTT-S International Microwave Symposium

Guidelines and Procedures Manual

 

Prepared by Ming Chen

Reviewed by Mike Harris

Revised by Zaher Bardai (2005)

Table of Contents

1.     Introduction

1.1.  Who needs an official invitation letter

1.2.  What is and isn’t covered in the invitation letter

2.     The Information for the International Attendees

2.1.  General information on the web

2.2.  Email confirmation

2.3.  The official invitation letter

3.     The Final Results

4.     Appendix 1 Visa Information

5.     Appendix2  FAQs (frequently asked questions) and answers

6.     IMS Recent Reports
6.1 IMS2003
6.2 IMS2005

      6.3 IMS2010

      6.4 IMS2013  

 

1. Introduction

The events of September 11, 2001, created certain concerns that needed to be addressed early in the process.  One was that the visa process itself would take considerably longer because of the background checks that would likely be performed by the visa issuing US Embassies and Consular services.  Another was that there would likely be greater scrutiny for overseas members who, as many do routinely, wished to combine attendance at IMS with either vacation in the US or other business.  Finally, members had to be cautioned not to expect an automatic approval for family members who would not actively participate in the conference.

 

Job Description - IMS International Liaison: To create and maintain information on the IMS web site concerning international attendees. To accept applications for official invitation letters from international attendees and to issue the letters on behalf of the IMS Chair.  To provide “customer service” for the international IMS attendees before they arrive in the US.

1.1. Who needs an official invitation letter

Based on my observation, there are two kinds of people who would need a letter from the IMS for attending the symposium.  1) The majority of people request the letter for their US visa applications.  Even though the U.S. government has visa waiver programs with several dozen countries for short-term visiting, a resident of one of these countries who is a citizen of a third country would still need a visa to enter the U.S.  2) others need it for administrative purposes such as for reporting to their funding agencies, employers, etc.

 

Whatever their actual needs might be, our job is to provide only the official invitation letter to help them in their applications for a visa, travel funding, etc.  We, the Symposium organizers, can’t intervene in any way on their behalf in the U.S. visa approval process.  Making that point clear right at the beginning would save lots of time and energy later on in explaining this to the requesting individuals.

1.2. What is and isn’t covered in the invitation letter

The official invitation letter provides the needed information and eliminates any possible confusion regarding the funding for attending the symposium.  These issues are well summarized in an email from John Barr, MTT-S 2002 President, written in early 2002.

 

“It is probably a little early for visa issues and IMS2002 but you are likely to be getting requests soon for supporting letters.  I think there is a form letter we have used in the past (we need to be careful on appearing to give financial support).

 

“However, just as a heads up, there is an additional visa issue that may occur.  It appears students attending schools in their non-resident countries are trying to come to the US.  If this problem does occur, would you please let me know and I will handle the IEEE contact.

 

“Additionally, Donn you may want to discuss the overall visa issue at your Steering Committee meeting and make sure they all go through just one person and we keep a log of such requests.”

 

My job as the International Liaison started with working with the Web Master for the IMS2002, Jim Takeuchi, and designing the message we would like to communicate to the would-be symposium goers.

2. The Information for the International Attendees

We have implemented a three-step strategy for releasing information to the international attendees.

2.1. General information on the web

Information should be posted on the IMS web that "Citizens of other countries may have to carry a valid passport and visa to enter the USA. <More information> is provided on the linked page."

 

The <more info> link brought up a full second page which served mainly for the international attendees.  It first provided the link to the official U.S. State Department website which outlined the visa requirements in detail for foreigners.  It then provided the info on how to request an official invitation letter and listed my email address.  The page ended with an important footnote: The IMS2002 Conference CANNOT contact or intervene with any U.S. Embassy or Consulate office abroad on your behalf.  An image of the web page is shown in Figure 1.  More details of the Visa Information are provided in Appendix 1.

2.2. Email confirmation

After the request was received by email, a confirmation reply was sent by email.  It notified the recipient that the letter would be prepared and mailed out in one week (in the last two months before the IMS opening, processing time was reduced to within one day).  Also I reminded them to check with the IMS2002 website regularly for the latest information on the Symposium.

2.3. The official invitation letter

Since I couldn’t find a sample letter from the previous IMS documents, I contacted the organizers for the IEEE Magnetics Conference, which was held in Seattle in November, 2001.  Our web information page and the invitation letter were evolved from their work and had gone through several revisions.  I circulated both documents within the operations committee before finalizing them.  With the combination of the letter and the web message, we have addressed all the points addressed by John Barr and more for our international attendees.  A sample letter is shown in Figure 2 for IMS2002.  The official sample letter for IMS2005 is shown in Figure 3.

3. The Final Results

Before the IMS2002 opening day, I had received a total of 88 requests from 25 countries all over the world, such as UK, France, Italy, Russia, Ireland, China, Japan, Malaysia, Israel, Brazil, Canada, and Nigeria.  The weekly statistical progress data are plotted in Figure 4.  I’ve heard from only two applicants whose visa applications were denied by the US overseas authorities.  Figure 5 delineates the letters of invitation requested for IMS2005

 

4. Appendix 1 Visa Information

 

U.S. CITIZENSHIP AND IMMIGRATION SERVICES (USCIS)

 

As a consequence of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has taken over all immigration functions of the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS).  The DHS oversees three important immigration agencies such as the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).  The USCIS inherited most immigration services including the processing of permanent residency petitions and U.S. citizenship applications, change from one status category to another, adjudicating work authorizations, administering asylum and refugee services.  Conveniently, existing INS forms and documents are still valid and USCIS continues to occupy most of the same office locations as the INS.

 

NON-IMMIGRATION VISAS

 

In the wake of 9/11, admitting visitors to the U.S. has become an extremely important national security issue.  Newly implemented strict security check systems can delay visa issuance for a substantial amount of time.  For most foreign nationals, the first step to obtaining an entry visa is to apply at the U.S. consulate in their country.  Each visa category mandates a separate set of complex and legally specific requirements.  Beyond the relatively simple visitor visas, it is highly advisable that a U.S. Immigration attorney be engaged to prepare the case from the start. 

 

Visa types and descriptions for temporary visitors can be found at the U.S. Department of State website (http://travel.state.gov/visa/temp/types/types_1286.html).

 

B-1/B-2 VISITORS: BUSINESS AND PLEASURE

 

The “visitor” visa is a nonimmigrant visa for individuals who wish to enter the U.S. temporarily for business (B-1) or for pleasure or medical treatment (B-2).  For example, if the purpose of the trip is to consult business associates, travel for a scientific, educational, professional or business conventions, or conference on specific dates, settle an estate, or negotiate a contract, then the B-1 visitor visa would be appropriate.  The B-2 visitor visa would be fitting for travelers, whose purpose of the trip is recreational in nature, including tourism, amusement visits with friends or relatives, rest, medical treatment, and activities of a fraternal, social, or service nature.  The visa allows a foreign citizen to travel to the U.S. port of entry and request permission of the U.S. immigration inspector to enter the U.S.

 

VISA QUALIFICATION FOR IEEE CONFERENCE ATTENDEES

 

Potential visa applicants who received an acceptance letter from IEEE as full program participants qualify for the B-1 visa.  Spouse and children (under age 21) of a B-1 visitor may accompany the principal attendee and may obtain B-2 status for this purpose.  For both B-1 and B-2 holders, reasonable stay for tourism or vacation following the conference would be allowed.  Exhibit passes are available to purchase in advance for accompanying family members and friends.  However, the fact that the entire family travels to the U.S. may cause the consular officer to question the legitimacy of a short term business trip.  In such case, it is necessary to submit, along with the application, evidence of compelling social and economic ties to the native country which will insure the travelers return abroad at the end of the visit.  Such documentation include proof of assets, employment, school enrollment, and, or, remaining family members’ information.  The decision whether to apply for a B-1 or B-2 visa depends on individual circumstances; however, in most cases, the consular office will issue a “B-1/B-2” visa.  If further assistance is necessary, consult with an U.S. immigration attorney to come up with the best case for each individual.

 

VISA WAIVER PROGRAM

 

Travelers coming to the U.S. for tourism or business for 90 days or less from qualified countries may be eligible to visit the U.S. without a visa if they meet the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) requirements.  The VWP permits aliens from certain countries to travel to the U.S. for B-1 or B-2 visits without having to obtain a visa stamp at a U.S. consulate or embassy.  Currently the following 27 countries participate in the VWP:

 

Andorra

Australia

Austria

Belgium

Brunei

Denmark

Finland

France

Germany

 

Iceland

Ireland

Italy

Japan

Liechtenstein

Luxemburg

Monaco

The Netherlands

New Zealand

 

Norway

Portugal

San Marino

Singapore

Slovenia

Spain

Sweden

Switzerland

United Kingdom

 

 

A passport issued on or before October 25, 2004, will be valid for VWP entry as long as it is machine readable.  If it not machine readable, the VWP traveler must obtain a nonimmigrant visa.  However, a passport issued on or after October 26, 2004, must not only be machine readable, but must also contain the biometric identifier, or the traveler is not eligible to use the VWP and must obtain a nonimmigrant visa.  Additionally, the passport must have a validity date at least six months beyond the applicant’s intended period of stay in the U.S.  Passport information for non-VWP travelers is given in the section below, Filling Up Visa Applications.

 

 

CONTACTING LOCAL U.S. CONSULATE

 

Applicants for visitor visas should generally apply at the U.S. embassy or consulate with jurisdiction over their place of permanent residence.  Only in rare cases, visa applicants are allowed to apply at any consulate.  If you happen to be residing abroad, outside of your country of permanent residency, or I you have any questions or concerns regarding which consulate is appropriate for your case, consult an U.S. immigration attorney. 

 

Consulates change their hours of operations, fees, and application requirements on a regular basis.  Therefore, before planning the trip, it is highly recommended to visit U.S. consulate websites to find out more about local consular procedures and waiting time. 

 

To find out about local U.S. consulates:

http://travel.state.gov/travel/tips/embassies/embassies_1214.html

 

 

FILLING UP VISA APPLICATIONS

 

Documentation needed for the applications include, but are not limited to:

 

l       A valid passport:

The passport must have a validity date at least six months beyond the applicant’s intended period of stay in the U.S.  In some consulates, such as Guangzhou, China, it is required for visitors to have a passport valid for at least nine months after the intended date of departure from the U.S.  Applicants should check with their consulate for the appropriate requirements before filing the visa application.

 

l       Appropriate applications:

For current forms, please visit:

http://travel.state.gov/visa/frvi/forms/forms_1342.html

 

l       Documents to support the application detailing employment, reason for travel and financial status.

 

It is important to remember that visa processing and operations can vary depending on local circumstances.  Some consulates require that personal interviews and appointments be scheduled in advance, and some interview applicants on a walk-in basis at specific posted times.  The time it takes to process your visa also can vary significantly depending on type of visa and circumstances in the country or region.  Therefore it is important to take action early as soon as you know you need to travel to the U.S.

 

To find out about visa wait times at worldwide U.S. Consulates:

http://travel.state.gov/visa/temp/wait/tempvisitors_wait.php

 

Whether the traveler decides to apply for the visa himself/herself or retain an immigration attorney, it is advisable to make a copy of all completed forms before submitting them to the USCIS or U.S. consulate.  It is critical that the forms be completed carefully and truthfully.  Any incorrect information provided in the application can trigger immigration fraud issues.  In many cases, minor neglect or misrepresentation can go a long way and haunt the applicant years later.  The information provided by the applicant will be kept in a shared database by USCIS and the Department of State (DOS) for security purposes.  Any specific questions or concerns about procedures and requirements should be directed towards an immigration counsel.

 

“TERRIBLE 7” COUNTRIES

 

Due to national security issues, additional security measures are being initiated for applicants who ever have spent time, whether for short visits or extended assignments or periods as a minor, in one of the “Terrible 7” countries.  Unfortunately, there have been an alarming number of false hits caused by similar or identical names, especially when the applicant is from a country where there are few surnames and name similarity is common.  Applicants with such hits are not provided with an opportunity to show that they are not the same person as that on the database. 

 

The “Terrible 7” countries are:

 

Cuba

Iran

Iraq

Libya

North Korea

Sudan

Syria

 

 

 

VISA ISSUANCE AND ITS LEGAL EFFECT

 

Applicants should be aware that a visa does not guarantee entry into the U.S.  One important point any visitor should be reminded of is that an entry visa is not a permit to enter the U.S.  The entry visa is only a permit for a foreign national to present himself/herself for inspection to enter the U.S. at the U.S. port of entry.  Immigration officers have the authority to deny admission, and determine the period for which the bearer of a visitor visa is authorized to remain in the U.S. 

 

When visa holders arrive at the port of entry, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is responsible for inspecting and admitting visitors into the U.S.  Visitors must demonstrate that their trips qualify for the visa they possess.  For conference participants and exhibit attendees, carrying the acceptance letter from IEEE and/or pre-purchased exhibit passes, would assist easing the inspection process.  Those who plan to take vacation following the conference attendance should request CBP officer for enough duration to cover the planned trip.  Additionally, having a round trip return ticket is highly advisable for a short-term visitor.

 

At the port of entry, biometric information of visitors is taken, such as facial photograph and fingerprints.  Such information is to be shared among government agencies and used to maintain entry and exit records.  Additionally, visitors, students and temporary workers are required to update the U.S. government on changes of address.  While in the U.S. it is always good practice for visitors to carry relevant U.S. status documents at all times. 

 

ADDITIONAL LINKS

 

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services: http://uscis.gov/graphics/index.htm

 

U.S. Department of State:                              http://travel.state.gov/

 

Websites of U.S. Embassies and Consulates:            http://usembassy.state.gov/

 

U.S. Visa Information:           http://travel.state.gov/visa/visa_1750.html

 

U.S. Visa Bulletin:     http://travel.state.gov/visa/frvi/bulletin/bulletin_2007.html

 

U.S. Visa Guide                      http://www.unitedstatesvisas.gov

 

CONTACT INFORMATION FOR CONSULATES

 

If your local consulate is not listed below, please visit:

http://travel.state.gov/travel/tips/embassies/embassies_1214.html

 

China, Beijing            http://beijing.usembassy.gov/

                                    Tel: (+86) (10) 6532-3431

 

China, Chengdu                      http://www.usembassy-china.org.cn/chengdu/cons/

                                    Tel: (+86) (28) 8558-3992, 8558-9642

 

China, Guangzhou      http://www.usembassy-china.org.cn/guangzhou/index.html

                                    Tel: (+86) (20) 8121-8000

 

China, Shanghai                     http://www.usembassy-china.org.cn/shanghai/

                                    Tel: (+86) (21) 6433-6880

 

China, Shenyang                     http://www.usembassy-china.org.cn/shenyang/

                                    Tel: (+86) (24) 2322-1198

 

Hong Kong and Macau           http://www.hongkong.usconsulate.gov/

                                    Tel: (+852) 2523-9011

 

India, Calcutta                        http://usembassy.state.gov/posts/in4/wwwhmain.html

                                    Tel: (+91) (33) 2282-3611

 

India, Chennai            http://usembassy.state.gov/chennai/

                                    Tel: (+91) (44) 2811-2000

 

 

India, Mumbai                        http://usembassy.state.gov/mumbai/

                                    Tel: (+91) (22) 2362-3611

 

India, New Delhi                    http://newdelhi.usembassy.gov/

                                    Tel: (+91) (11) 2419-8000

 

Indonesia, Jakarta                   http://www.usembassyjakarta.org/

                                    Tel: (+62) (21) 3435-9000

 

Jordan, Amman                      http://www.usembassy-amman.org.jo/

                                    Tel: (+962) (6) 590-6000

 

Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur       http://usembassymalaysia.org.my/

                                    Tel: (+60) (3) 2168-5000

 

Singapore                    http://singapore.usembassy.gov/index.shtml

                                    Tel: (+65) 6476-9100

 

Taiwan                                    http://www.ait.org.tw/en/

                                    Tel: (+886) (2) 2162-2000

           

Philippines, Manila    http://usembassy.state.gov/posts/rp1/wwwhmain.html

                                    Tel: (+63) (2) 528-6300

 

Thailand, Bangkok     http://bangkok.usembassy.gov/embassy/index.htm

                                    Tel: (+66) (2) 205-4000

 

Thailand, Chiang Mai http://bangkok.usembassy.gov/consulcm/consulcm.htm

                                    Tel: (+66) (53) 252-629

 

Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh City   http://www.uscongenhcmc.org/

                                                Tel: (+84) (8) 822-9433

 

Once again, the list above is not an exhaustive list of U.S. consulates abroad.  If there are inquiries about a location that is not listed above, please visit the DOS website at http://travel.state.gov/travel/tips/embassies/embassies_1214.html for a complete listing.

 

 

5. Appendix 2:  FAQs (frequently asked questions) and Answers

Here I pick a few of my email Q&As to share with our future IMS organizers.

Is RFIC part of IMS?  Can I pay registration fees for the IMS and attend the RFIC?

Answer:  Yes and No.  We issue the same invitation letter for both IMS and RFIC attendees, but you have to pay the RFIC registration fee in order to go to the RFIC sessions.

Please send the invitation letter to me by fax or email, and send a copy to the US Embassy in my country, etc.

Answer:  As a rule set by the Operations Committee, we only send the letter out in hard copy by the international airmail.  (In several cases though, I had sent them by fax or email as we were approaching the end date.)  Also note the message we put on the web, “The IMS2002 Conference CANNOT contact or intervene with any U.S. Embassy or Consulate office abroad on your behalf.”

Please have the title of my symposium paper printed on the invitation letter too.

Answer: Due to logistical reasons, the committee had decided at the beginning that we wouldn’t have the resources and time to do that.

I’ve found a typo on my name in the Full Program, please correct it.

Answer: It’s too late to change since the hard copies of the full program have been printed and distributed.  It’s the author’s responsibility at the paper submission time to ensure the accuracy of the author information.

 

 

 

Figure 1.  Key information posted on the IMS2002 web for international attendees

 

 

 

Figure 2.   A sample copy of the official invitation from IMS2002

 

 

Figure 3. A sample copy of the official invitation from IMS2005

 

 

Figure 4.   Weekly statistical data for invitation letter requests.

 

Letters Sent to

Presenters

Conf Attendees

Australia

 

1

Brazil

1

 

Bulgaria

 

1

Canada

4

3

China

6

4

France

2

 

Germany

8

 

Ghana

 

1

Hong Kong

3

2

Ireland

1

 

Japan

1

 

Korea

3

6

Mexico

1

 

Nigeria

 

2

Poland

 

1

Russia

4

2

Singapore

4

1

Sweden

2

1

Turkey

 

1

United Kingdom

4

 

Ukraine

2

 

Total

46

26

 

 

 

US Embassy - China

2

 

 

Figure 5.  Summary Information from IMS2005

 

6. IMS Recent Reports

6.1 IMS2003

international_liason_IMS2003_final_report.ppt

6.2 IMS2005

IMS2005International Liaison Report.doc

 

6.3 IMS2010

IMS2010_Reports\INTERNATIONAL LIAISON Final Report.doc

 

6.4 IMS2013

IMS2013\ims2013report-final-InternationalLiaison.doc