Resources/Visa Help

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 any travel visa, these 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.

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.