[OSGeo-Conf] Questions for FOSS4G 2017 bidders

Andy Anderson aanderson at amherst.edu
Tue Nov 3 16:22:34 PST 2015

Interesting. The requirements look more like an exchange (J1) visa in the US, though not as stringent in other ways. The B1/B2 visas I was referencing don’t require a sponsor and are therefore easier in that respect.

There might be some specific situations where visitors could arrange a J1 visa with a US sponsor if it involves an extended stay:


For students there is this program:


For professionals, the “Short-Term Scholar” or “Professor and Research Scholar” or “Specialist” categories might be possibilities:


But these would be largely outside of the hands of the local organizing committee. I’m not sure how we, a loose collaboration of individuals and institutions, could be a sponsor ourselves, given the purpose of such visas. We might be able to facilitate scholarly or business exchanges through our networks, but we can’t make promises of success – not everyone wants to take on the responsibilities of being a sponsor. Given the large number of attendees, it would be better for individuals to pursue such arrangements with their own contacts, since it would likely involve an extended contact with them beyond the conference.

Some of the other J1 categories are even more specific and have more stringent requirements, e.g. the “Government Visitor” and the “International Visitor” that require the visitor to be an “an influential or distinguished person” or  “a recognized or potential leader in a field of specialized knowledge or skill”, respectively. This might apply, for example, to invited speakers but not to regular conference attendees.

— Andy

On Nov 2, 2015, at 11:35 PM, Venkatesh Raghavan <venka.osgeo at gmail.com<mailto:venka.osgeo at gmail.com>> wrote:

Hi Andy and Dave and Michael,

Thanks for your response to my question.

No aware about situation in the US, but
for FOSS4G-2007 in Victoria, Paul Ramsey
the chair issued a letter with details
shown in [1]. The letter worked like a charm
and no questions either at the consulate
or immigration counter in Canada.

[1] http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/visit/business-letter.asp

On 2015/11/03 0:55, Andy Anderson wrote:
Hi, Venka,

I have heard about the difficulties involved in getting a visa to enter the US, but not being on the other side makes it difficult to know what the exact barriers are.

By an official document do you mean a receipt for conference registration? I expect that will be standard practice, either printed from a registration web site or mailed to you.

Other than a completed conference registration to indicate purpose of visit, for general visitors it seems that neither a simple invitation letter nor an official document/affidavit would make any difference. Looking at the US State Department’s web site for visitor visas (B1/B2), it says very clearly:

“Visa applicants must qualify on the basis of the applicant's residence and ties abroad, rather than assurances from U.S. family and friends. A letter of invitation or Affidavit of Support is not needed to apply for a nonimmigrant tourist visa. If you do choose to bring a letter of invitation or Affidavit of Support to your interview, please remember that it is not one of the factors that we use in determining whether to issue or deny a nonimmigrant tourist visa.”


They do say that in some cases the consular office may request additional documents to provide “evidence of the purpose of your trip”, and I would think that documentation of conference registration would suffice for that.

They may also be looking for “evidence of your intent to depart the United States after your trip; and/or your ability to pay all costs of the trip.” The advice from our college to international students, and which would seem to apply to other international visitors, states that this is the most important issue:

“An important criterion used in the evaluation of visa applicants is non-immigrant intent. The consular officer must be convinced that you intend to remain in the United States temporarily and only for the period of time needed to complete your program…. You should be prepared to demonstrate that you have close ties to your home country (professional, family, financial, etc.) and that you intend to return to your home country after you complete your studies. The most common reason for visa denial is the applicant’s failure to convince the consular officer of intent to return home, so you should be certain to give some thought to this issue before your visa interview.”

I’m not sure how we could help with this.

If you have reason to believe that it would be helpful to have documents or other information from us other than a conference registration receipt, or if that receipt needs to include particular details beyond basic information like location and date, please let us know and preferably provide good examples. Your experience here will be very valuable.


— Andy

On Oct 31, 2015, at 9:03 PM, Venkatesh Raghavan <venka.osgeo at gmail.com> wrote:

Dear All,

Thanks to all the team for putting up great proposals
for FOSS4G-2016.

My question to each team is about whether they have some
plan to ease the immigration formalities to enter the
respective host countries. This is important especially
for many participants from Asia. Apart from just a simple
invitation letter, some kind of more official document
to ensure that issues of visa is smooth and easy.



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