The International Visitor Program of the United States Information Agency annually brings to the United States approximately 5,000 foreign nationals from all over the world to meet and confer with their professional counterparts and to experience America firsthand. The visitors, who are selected by American Foreign Service Officers overseas, are current or potential leaders in government, politics, the media, education, labor relations, the arts, business and other fields.
Among the thousands of distinguished individuals who have participated in the International Visitor Program since its inception more than five decades ago are more than 175 current and former Chiefs of State, 1500 cabinet-level ministers, and many, many other distinguished leaders from the public and private sectors.
The invitation to visit the United States under the auspices of USIA's IV Program is extended by U.S. Embassies. For that reason, individuals cannot apply to participate in the program. As mentioned, candidates for the International Visitor Program are nominated by American Foreign Service Officers stationed at U.S. Embassies and at USIA offices overseas. Once the nominations are approved, the program and other logistical arrangements are handled by USIA staff overseas and in Washington.
Two types of visitors make up the International Visitor Program -- Grant Visitors and Voluntary Visitors. Grant Visitors or "Grantees" travel to the U.S. for periods up to 21 days. All grantees receive full or, in some cases, at least partial funding from USIA for their U.S. visits. Voluntary Visitors generally stay for shorter periods of time, usually 2-14 days, and receive little or no funding from USIA, including no funding for international travel. Both Grantees and Voluntary Visitors travel to the U.S. either as individuals or in group projects. The group or thematic projects focus on a particular issue such as the U.S. economy or electoral system. Group projects can bring together colleagues with similar professional interests from particular countries, geographic regions or worldwide.
Arrangements for all International Visitors are made by program officers assigned to the Office of International Visitors, which is part of USIA's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. USIA program officers work in concert with a broad range of private, not-for-profit organizations operating under cooperative agreements with USIA.
Program Agencies - There are eight program agencies which currently assist USIA with program arrangements:
African-American Institute (AAI)
1625 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W., Suite 210, Washington, D.C. 20036
American Center for Internatinal Labor Solidarity (ACILS)
1925 K Street, N.W., Suite 410, Washington, D.C. 20006-1105
Academy for Educational Development
1875 Connecticut Avenue, N.W., ninth floor, Washington, D.C. 20009
Delphi International (DI)
1828 L Street, N.W., Suite 900, Washington, D.C. 20036
Institute of International Education
1400 K Street, N.W., Suite 650, Washington, D.C. 20005
(202) 898-0600 New York Office:
809 United Nations Plaza, New York, NY 10017
Meridian International Center
1624 Crescent Place, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20009
Mississippi Consortium for International Development
1225 Robinson Street, Jackson, MS 39203
Phelps Stokes Fund (PSF)
1420 K Street, N.W., Suite 800, Washington, D.C. 20005
In addition to these program agencies, the International Visitor Program also relies on the commitment and skills of volunteer- based community organizations across the United States whose members offer professional program assistance and home hospitality. These volunteer organizations are known as Councils for International Visitors (CIVs). There are currently 99 councils in 44 states.
A list of CIVs is included in the International Visitor Program Home Page. Interested individuals and organizations may contact the CIVs directly, or call the National Council for International Visitors (NCIV), which is an umbrella organization for the CIVs, at 202/ 842-1414. Questions may also be addressed to the Community Relations Division of the Office of International Visitors by calling 202/619-5220 or 800/827-0804.