We look forward to your participation as an exhibitor in the upcoming National Stationery Show. In order for you to enter the United States to attend a show, however, it is your responsibility to obtain a visa if the United States requires it for entry from your country. While the United States is “import friendly” and encourages business visitors, you must be sure that you have the required documentation in advance.
Consular officers are under no obligation to grant a visa application. In fact, if there is any doubt about the validity of your request, they will refuse you. We, therefore, offer the following thoughts and suggestions to assist you in the process:
- You must apply early. Consular officers know that trade shows set dates well in advance. A professional business person would not wait until the last moment to apply, and hence you lessen your chance of securing a visa if you apply late. We recommend applying at least 90-120 days prior to your trip.
- You will need, and we can provide you, a letter of introduction from us to take with you on your personal interview. Our letter will confirm your participation and payment, but we will need to have received your full deposit payment for exhibit space and your signed Exhibit Space Agreement. We will also need to include in the letter the name and address of your company, the booth number(s) assigned to you, your full name, job title, sex, date of birth, passport number/personal identification number, date of issue and expiration, and the number of days you wish to be in the United States. Also, if possible, the address of the Embassy or Consulate at which you are applying should be included. (Please note that we will send our letter to you, not to the Consular Office where you have scheduled your interview.)
- You will need documentation to prove that you have a valid reason to visit the U.S. This should include a copy of your Exhibit Space Agreement signed by both parties, and an invoice showing you have made your payments. Also, if available, you should provide records of previous visits abroad to attend trade shows, particularly visits to U.S-based shows.
- You must be prepared to present solid reasons why you must and will return to your country after the show.
- If refused, you can reapply as many times as you like, but each time you will need to supply more supporting information than at previous interviews.
We also recommend that you do not attempt to have too many people from your company apply for visas. As a rule of thumb, no more than three company employees should apply for each contracted 10 ft. x 10 ft. (3m x 3m) booth.
Emerald Expositions Official Policy for Exhibit Space Cancellation due to VISA Denial
According to the Exhibit Space Agreement issued by Emerald Expositions, if an exhibiting company cancels participation for any reason after the stated balance due date, the exhibitor will remain liable for the full amount of the booth fee. In an effort to accommodate international exhibitors who are required to have a personal visa to enter the U.S., Emerald Expositions policy was recently revised.
If a company should be unable to exhibit due to the denial of a visa to its employee(s), the following policy applies:
Refunds and transfers for visa denial are issued only when all persons from an individual company are denied their visas. If any person is granted visa approval, the company will not be issued a refund as they are still able to participate.
With a written cancellation notice to Emerald Expositions of at least forty-five (45) business days prior to the opening of the Show, 90% of the total exhibit fee as stated on the exhibit space agreement, will be either transferred to the next Show or refunded. A 10% administration fee, is non-refundable, and non-negotiable.
Official documentation supplied by the U.S. Embassy at the time of the visa denial must be given to Emerald Expositions within 10 days of the cancellation notice in order for any transfer or refund to be processed.
If an exhibitor cancels its exhibit space less than forty-five (45) business days before the Show, the exhibitor is liable for the full amount of the exhibit fee as stated in the Exhibit Space Agreement. No transfers or refunds will be honored, so please be sure to set the date for your personal interview with this cancellation policy in mind.
Information from the U.S. Department of State
There is no entitlement to a U.S. visa. The Nationality Act states that applicants are presumed to be ineligible unless they can demonstrate otherwise. The issuance of a visa indicates that a U.S. consular officer has reviewed an individual’s application and that the officer has made a preliminary determination that the individual is eligible to enter the country for a specific purpose.
A visa allows a person to travel to the United States as far as the port of entry – in this case, the airport or the border crossing. Then an immigration inspector makes the decision whether or not to allow the person into the country. Only the immigration officer has the authority to allow a person into the U.S., and it is he/she who decides how long the person can stay for a particular visit. You should have details of your trip itinerary with you to show to the immigration officer, especially if you plan to visit other cities or take a vacation while you are in the U.S.
All visa applications are considered individually on their merits. Each applicant must qualify in his or her own right for a visa, whatever the purpose of the trip. There are a number of categories of ineligibility, including terrorists, convicted felons, and persons who pose a health risk.
The most common ground for ineligibility is that the applicant has failed to show compelling ties to his or her own country that would overcome the presumption that he or she is planning to become an immigrant and seek to stay in the U.S. Proof of family or business in your country may help. Also, proof of regular or past participation by the company and named individuals in trade shows, such as an exhibitor list, letter from show management, or contracts and invoices with proof of payment, will also show that you have made business trips and returned to your country in the past.
Since the events of September 11, 2001, requirements for visa applications have stayed unchanged for the vast majority of countries outside the U.S. Fewer than thirty countries have been impacted by any new requirements, which generally entail extended periods for applications, appointments for interviews, review of applications, and the time required for issuance of new visas.
A majority of experienced businesspersons apply for and receive multi-entry visas. The period of this type of visa will vary from one to ten years and is determined by the reciprocal agreements between the United States and the specific country. Even if you have a multi-entry visa, individuals seeking to visit the U.S. must apply for a specific business visitor visa each trip. Do not assume because you have a multi-entry visa that you will automatically gain entry to the U.S. You must contact your U.S. Embassy or Consular office and receive a trip visa each time you wish to travel to the U.S. The advantage of having a previously approved multi-entry visa is that, generally, your request will be processed more quickly.
Remember that just because you are exhibiting in a trade show, you will not automatically gain entry to the United States.
For more comprehensive information, plus up-to-date news, please visit the Bureau of Consular Affairs’ website.