Key factors in determining the appropriate visa classification for the international visitor includes the nature of a visitor’s activities (research, observation, seminar or meeting participation, etc.), the visitor’s professional profile, the source of funding (foreign government, US government, grants, other), the types of reimbursements or payments to be made to the visitor and the proposed length of stay. Having the appropriate visa and a record of this on file in International Programs is important for both the visitor and the US Forest Service. Even minor and inadvertent violations of Immigration, Labor and US Forest Service regulations can have serious and irreversible consequences.
The J-1 Exchange Visitor Program
In many cases, it is only appropriate for official visitors to enter the USA with a J-1 visa as a part of the Exchange Visitor program. The US Forest Service has been designated by the US Department of State as a program sponsor for the following categories of J-1 exchange visitors:
- Government Visitor
- Research Scholar
- Short-Term Scholar
Programs in each of these categories have different requirements for participation and maximum lengths. There are also special rules about prior and future program participation and stays in the US . Please click on the following links for additional information:
In limited cases, a B-1 visa (temporary visitor for business) may be appropriate for short-term activities. This might be the case when an international visitor will attend a short meeting and no US government funding will be used for the visit. It is important to distinguish between the B-1 visa is issued for business purposes and the B-2 visa issued to internationals entering the US for travel or pleasure. In some cases, when in compliance with immigration and international revenue service regulations, certain reimbursements may be made to B-1 holders, but similar reimbursements are strictly prohibited for B-2 visa holders. Please click on the following chart for more information:
As regulations are complex, it is best to contact the International Visitor Program Coordinator to discuss your proposed program activities and immigration classifications.