With travel rules and regulations becoming more tedious to muddle through, HFTP wanted to do our part to assist HITEC international attendees as much as possible. We greatly appreciate our international delegation and want to be able to provide valuable resources to make travel in and out of the United States for HITEC 2011 as easy as possible.
Visa interviews can be incredibly stressful as well as time consuming, and since we get a number of calls asking for assistance in this process we decided HFTP had a responsibility to our stakeholders to learn more about the process our global attendees must go through just to walk in the front doors of HITEC.
I recently attended ITB Berlin and had the opportunity to meet with a US Immigrations and Customs Officer who specialized in visa applications. I learned we can offer our attendees a lot of resources for the process, especially as it comes to the interview process.
Here’s some of the information I learned:
- Complete an International Letter of Invitation
- Schedule your visa application interview appointment with your embassy
- Verify fees and requirements
- Be sure to complete ALL necessary documents
- Show proof of “strong ties” that bind you to your country of residence
- If you’ve traveled to the US before, provide documentation demonstrating you returned to your country on time
- With your application, include any HITEC marketing pieces you have received whether by e-mail or mail
We have created a new Global Attendees Resource on the HITEC site, referencing all of the above information in greater detail. On the web site, applicants can also learn the location of their consulate and more information on what to expect the day of their visa interview.
I encourage those of you who are coming to the US from across the seas, or even considering joining us at HITEC in June, to review the page. Just remember: The most common enemy in visa application approvals is time. The sooner you apply for the visa the better, as some consulates can take up to four to six weeks to process an application.
We want the international hospitality community to continue to embrace HITEC, so we hope these few resources prove useful when making the decision to join us at HITEC 2011 for the top notch education, an expo floor filled with emerging technologies for the industry, as well as worldwide networking all in one location.
Steven Stout, CAE, is director of meetings and special events for HFTP. He is the staff liaison to the HITEC Advisory Council.