International Conferences: Faster Visa Processing Times May Be on the Way

Visa wait time has been an ongoing challenge for those international visitors wishing to attend U.S-based events. Currently, first-time visa applicants can face a delay of over one year, and even up to two, due to  staffing shortages and a growing backlog following the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the U.S. Travel Association, this comes at a projected cost of nearly 7 million potential visitors and over 10 billion dollars in associated tourism costs in 2023. 

Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Jerry Moran (R-KS) introduced the bipartisan Visa Processing Improvement Act on 27 July 2023. This bill aims to mitigate the challenge and create relief in the form of a more sustainable system: expanding in-person interview waivers, allotting resources to countries with a higher applicant volume, and creating standards for visa processing times. 

The Visa Processing Improvement Act has the potential to create a long-lasting solution for international visitors hoping to attend U.S.-based events. 

The ASPB community is built on an extensive global network. Previously, the annual plant biology meeting attracted more than 1,300 scientists from 40 countries. 

“One of our goals as a society is to promote the growth and development of plant biology on a global scale and the Visa challenges have been a barrier to bringing together the global plant science community,” said Jennifer Covington, Vice President of Membership and Meetings at ASPB. 

“Scientific meetings, including Plant Biology, enable people to make critical connections that enable scientific advancement and The Visa Processing Act is a promising step towards allowing important international participation. ASPB looks forward to welcoming scientists, industry leaders, teachers and students from around the world to the 100th anniversary meeting in June 2024.”  

Plant Biology 2024 will include symposia, poster sessions, workshops, networking and mentoring events and plenary sessions designed to engage the global scientific community. The program features the latest research in plant science as well as opportunities for young and experienced scientists to share their research and discuss  

We hope this new legislation will allow more members of the plant science community to attend our in-person gathering June 22-26 in Honolulu, Hawaii.