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US Visa Requirements
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US Visa Requirements

If you are a non-US citizen attending our conference, and NOT attending as an Official Showcase artist, you will be able to download a generic border crossing letter in the fall preceding the conference. This letter simply states that you are attending the Folk Alliance conference. Official Showcase artists will receive an editable border crossing letter. 

You can download an overview of the US Visa and access requirements to attend the Folk Alliance International conference here.


Attendees from Non-VWP Countries (including Canada)

For visitors wishing to travel to the United States to attend our annual industry conference, a “non-work” visiting visa is required for guests coming from non-Visa Waiver Program countries. A list of the 38 countries part of the Visa Waiver Program can be found here. Citizens of non-VWP countries (including Canada) should obtain a B-1 or B-2 temporary stay visa, typically awarded while clearing customs at the US border as part of standard access to the US on business (not work) trips to an industry business & networking conference.

If any paid employment is part of your intended time in the US during which you attend the Folk Alliance Conference (whether or not paid performance is part of the Conference) you must obtain a work visa in advance of entry, separate from the process described here.

Attendees from VWP Countries (including Europe & Australia)

For anyone traveling from the 38 counties that are part of the Visa Waiver Program, because of delays in processing times, it is recommended that an application for a visitor visa be submitted at least 90 days in advance of the date you wish to travel. Whether you apply for a B-1 or B-2 will depend whether you are traveling for work or pleasure.

The Visa Waiver Program (VWP) allows citizens of participating countries to travel to the United States without a visa for stays of 90 days or less, when they meet all requirements explained below. Travelers must be eligible to use the VWP and have a valid Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) approval prior to travel.

If you are eligible to travel on the VWP, but prefer to have a visa in your passport, you may still apply for a visitor (B) visa.


Requirements for using the Visa Waiver Program (VWP)

You must meet all of the following requirements to travel to the US on the VWP:

1) Travel purpose must be permitted on a Visitor (B) Visa

The Visa Waiver Program (VWP) allows citizens of participating countries to travel to the United States without obtaining a visa, for stays of 90 days or less for tourism or business. Transiting, or traveling through, the United States to Canada or Mexico is generally permitted for VWP travelers.

The following are examples of business activities permitted while in the United States on the VWP:
  • consult with business associates
  • attend a scientific, educational, professional, or business convention or conference
  • attend short-term training (you may not be paid by any source in the United States with the exception of expenses incidental to your stay)
  • negotiate a contract

The following are examples of activities NOT permitted on the VWP and require visas for travel to the United States:

  • study, for credit
  • employment
  • work as foreign press, radio, film, journalists, or other information media
  • permanent residence in the United States

2) Each Traveler Must have authorization under ESTA

In order to travel without a visa on the VWP, you must have authorization through the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) prior to boarding a U.S. bound air or sea carrier. ESTA is the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Customs and Border Protection's (CBP) automated web-based system to determine eligibility to travel without a visa to the United States for tourism or business. Visit the ESTA webpage for more detailed information, to apply for ESTA, and pay the fee.

3) Travel Must be on an Approved Carrier

If arriving by air or sea, you must be arriving on an approved air or sea carrier. You must also have a round trip ticket indicating return passage to a country outside the United States.

4) Previous Compliance and No Prior Visa Ineligibilities

If you have had a U.S. visa before or previously traveled to the United States under the VWP or another status, you must have complied with the conditions of previous admissions to the United States, and you must not have previously been found ineligible for a U.S. visa.

Travelers should be aware that by requesting admission under the Visa Waiver Program, they are generally waiving their right to review or appeal a CBP officer’s decision as to their application for admission at the port of entry. See the CBP website for additional details.

5) Have the Correct Type of Passport

You must have a passport that is valid for at least 6 months after your planned departure from the United States (unless exempted by country-specific agreements). For families, each member of your family, including infants and children, must have his/her own passport.

In addition, as of April 1, 2016, you must have an e-passport to use the VWP. An e-Passport is an enhanced secure passport with an embedded electronic chip. The chip can be scanned to match the identity of the traveler to the passport. Exact details can be found online.

Emergency & Temporary Passports

If you use an emergency or temporary passport to enter the United States on the VWP, the passport must be an electronic passport, or e-Passport. This includes VWP travelers who are transiting, or traveling through, the United States.

May I apply for a visa instead of using the VWP?

Travelers who are eligible for the VWP may apply for a visitor (B) visa, if they prefer to do so. If you do not meet all of the criteria explained in this webpage, then you must apply for a visa. Additionally, you need to apply for a visa if you will be traveling on a private aircraft or other non-VWP approved air or sea carrier. Review the approved carriers list.


!! Immediate Visa Help !!
TamizdatAVAIL is a non-profit project that provides both urgent and long term solutions to pervasive U.S. visa problems faced by the international performing arts community. The TamizdatAVAIL Hotline is a free hotline that provides performing arts professionals with urgent legal assistance regarding U.S. visa issues. It is staffed by legal professionals and funded by the National Endowment for the Arts. Their team of volunteer lawyers provide free advice to performing arts professionals who have already filed an I-129 and are experiencing a problem in a subsequent stage of the visa process.

DO YOU NEED HELP WITH AN ARTIST VISA PROBLEM? Call TamizdatAVAIL at 718-541-3641 or email

Folk Alliance International, 512 Delaware Street, Kansas City MO 64105 • 816-221-FOLK (3655) •

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