Resources/Visa Help


Visa Help

Visa Application Opens: May 1, 2018

For 2018, we strongly encourage you to apply for visas early as the current travel situation into the United States of America remains uncertain and approval of your application may take some time.

We recommend that teams who need a visa to travel to the United States of America should apply for their visa as early as possible. It can take a long time for some visas to process. Even if the rest of your team has received their visa quickly, it may take longer for yours to be approved. You don't want to miss out on the amazing experience at the Giant Jamboree, so apply early!

Please note: iGEM Headquarters does not have any authority over consulate offices or the visa application process. Applying early for your travel visa will dramatically improve the chances of a successful visa application.

Visa Waiver Program

Through the U.S. Department of State's Visa Waiver program, citizens of certain countries can enter the United States for a visit of 90 days or less without obtaining a B-1 Business Visitor visa. Click for the list of eligible countries and more information about the Visa Waiver program.

Although you will not need a B-1 visitor visa, you will still need to apply for authorization through the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) before traveling. Click for the ESTA website, application procedure, and fee payment.

Visitor Visas

If your country does not participate in the Visa Waiver program, you will need a B-1 Business Visitor visa in order to enter the United States and attend the Giant Jamboree. Only the B-1 Business Visitor visa (not the B-2 visa) allows the visa holder to attend and present at scientific conferences. Visit the U.S. Department of State website or contact your local U.S. embassy/consulate for application details. You can also check the visa appointment and processing wait times online.

Who should apply for a visa?

Certain countries require a visa for citizens to enter the United States. If you do not yet know who will be attending the Jamboree, err on the side of caution and have all members apply for a visa.

How early should I apply for a visa?

The only way to have the highest chance of successfully obtaining a visa is to apply early.
We suggest all team members should apply at least two months in advance of the Giant Jamboree

What visa should I apply for?

Students should apply for B-1 visas. This visa allows the holder to attend and present at a conference. Do not apply for a B-2 or other travel visa, because other travel visas do not allow the visa holder to present at a conference.

Invitation letter system

You can get a customized invitation letter to use when applying for your visa by using the online invitation letter system.

    To obtain your visa invitation letter, follow these instructions:
    • Log-in to
    • Go to your User Information page
    • At the bottom of your account page you will see a box for Visas - Invitation Letters
    • Click on "edit" and enter your information
    • Save your edits
    • Download your invitation letter by clicking on "Download an invitation for the iGEM Giant Jamboree"

Make sure that you are on your team's Roster. If you are not already on the roster you must join the team and have the primary contact approve your request to join. Alternatively you can ask the primary contact to provide you with the team membership joining code.

Giant Jamboree Schedule Overview

For students who require a schedule to apply for their visa, we recommend you use the schedule overview provided to the right. The schedule overview we provide is often enough detail for your visa application.

We will not have a more detailed schedule available until October since we cannot finalize the schedule until we know which teams will be attending the Giant Jamboree. October is too late to apply for your visa. If you require a more detailed schedule, please email us at hq AT igem DOT org and we can work with you to provide the documentation you require.