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Passports and Visas for NIH Employees Only

Please note: Fogarty International Center (FIC) processes applications only for official and diplomatic passports and visas for NIH employees. FIC neither processes applications for personal or tourist passports, nor obtains passports or visas for travelers from other government agencies. If you are with another agency, please check with your travel department.

Foreign Scientists coming to NIH should contact Division of International Services/Office of Research Services for U.S. visa information.

Passports | Visas | Travel Specialist Contact Info

Passports

HHS employees on official international travel are required to use their official (or diplomatic) U.S. Government passports unless the Department of State advises otherwise. Individuals who are not eligible for official passports (Fellows, such as IRTAs or CRTAs, and employees who are not U.S. citizens) are permitted to travel with their personal passport on official business.

A memo from HHS on March 19, 2003, requires all government travelers to have an official passport. For further information, please review the memo from August 21, 2003 on Clarified Guidance on Use of Official Passports [PDF 66K]. Official passports are for official use only and may not be used for personal travel.

Exception - Travelers going to Taiwan on official business must use their personal passport. No official or diplomatic passports are permitted.

Passport Validity

Although requirements can vary by country, passports generally must be valid at least 3 to 6 months beyond the intended stay. Passports with less than 6 months validity remaining should be renewed prior to travel.

How to apply for an official passport

To apply for an official passport, a traveler must meet these two requirements:

  1. U.S. Citizen
  2. Federal Government Employee
    Important: You must submit an Information Sheet along with any form you provide FIC.

Requests for official passports should be submitted four weeks before your departure date. If your request is not received in time to obtain the passport, you will need to obtain the official passport directly from the Special Issuance Agency of the Department of State. You will still need to obtain an authorization letter from the FIC passport agent. To obtain the authorization letter, please complete the Information Sheet and bring it to Building 31, Room B2C05.

Please note on the Information Sheet the tentative or definite destination. To apply for an official passport, there must be a trip planned. All completed documents must be forwarded to FIC. Processing takes from 2 to 4 weeks.

Application DS 82 for Official Passport or renewing an official passport

You can use the DS 82 form to apply by submitting your personal passport; it will be returned to FIC with the new official passport. NOTE:  Please use the Instruction Sheet given here, NOT the instructions on the State Department Web site! Only print pages 5 and 6 of the actual application:

Application DS 11 for Official Passport when failing to submit Personal Passport

If you do not hold a U.S. personal passport or do not wish to submit it for processing, the DS11 form must be completed. The form should not be signed until you meet with a passport agent at FIC. Along with the DS11 form, you must submit your birth certificate or naturalization certificate; it will be returned to FIC with the new official passport. NOTE: Please use the Instruction Sheet given here, NOT the instructions on the State Department Web site! Only print page 5 and 6 of the actual application:

Application DS 4085 to add visa pages to an official passport

This form should be used to add visa pages. Submit application DS 4085 with the information sheet. NOTE: Please use the instructions given on this site, NOT the instructions on the State Department Web site! Only print page 4 of the actual application:

Statement Regarding Lost or Stolen Passport: DS-64

This form should be submitted with the DS-11 application and its requirements if the official passport is lost or stolen. NOTE: Please use the instructions given on this site, NOT the instructions on the State Department Web site! Only print page 1 of the actual application:

Additional Information

You can get passport photos in Building 10, Room B2L328. The telephone number is 301-496-3221. The schedule is Tuesday from 9 am - 11 am and Thursday from 3 pm - 4 pm. No appointment is necessary. IC CAN numbers should be taken with you; see your Administrative Officer.

Please contact the Occupational Medical Service (OMS) 30 days in advance about Yellow Fever Cards or shots at 301-496-4411. They are located in Building 10, 6th Floor. Their hours of operation are Monday through Friday, 7:30 am to 7:30 pm. Please see their website for further information and travel immunization request form.


Visas


Definition of a Visa and Its Functions


A visa is an endorsement or stamp issued by an official in the Consular Section of a foreign Embassy. The visa, placed into the passport, allows the bearer to enter that foreign country. Visas are valid for a specified time period, number of entries, and duration of stay.

The duration of the visa's validity will be noted on the visa itself. Depending on the Embassy, the visa may only be valid for a very limited number of days, such as the days of visit the traveler specifies on the visa application. The majority of visas, though, are valid for either 30 days, 3 months, 6 months, 1 year, or 5 years - from date of issue. Some visas will also indicate how long the traveler can stay in the country. Permission to stay in the country is generally granted for 30 to 90 days per visit.

Some visas are issued with the date that traveler is scheduled to enter the country. Take special care when changing travel dates after submitting a visa application to FIC - make sure to notify your FIC International Travel Program Specialist immediately of the change.

Three kinds of visa entries are granted: Single-Entry (visa is only valid for one use - only for a certain period of time and then it will expire); Double-Entry (visa can be used to enter the same country twice for a certain period of time and then it will expire); Multi-Entry (visa can be used for multiple entries into the same country before expiration date). Multi-entry visas can be requested from some Embassies, but it is at their discretion to grant one.

When a visa expires or was only valid for a single entry, it cannot be renewed or extended. A new application must be submitted, just as was for the first visa.

What countries require a visa for travel on an official passport?


Consult the official passport visa chart to determine if a visa is needed. This information applies ONLY to US official/diplomatic passports - it does NOT apply to US personal passports, nor to passports issued by other countries. When in doubt, contact your FIC International Travel Program Specialist.

You are responsible for applying for the visa of the country in which you are planning to conduct NIH business.

Requesting Visa Application and Requirements


Visa applications and requirements must be submitted to FIC at least 30 days before travel takes place. E-mail your FIC International Travel Program Specialist to request visa application forms and requirements at least four weeks prior to travel, unless otherwise noted. Take into account any transit or overnight stay as a visa may also be required. Depending on the country, the passport must be valid at least 3 to 6 months beyond the extended stay. Passports with less than 6 months validity remaining must be renewed first before a visa is processed. This is also the case if a visa is not required for entry.

It is important to submit the paperwork at least 30 days before travel, particularly if obtaining an official/diplomatic passport at the same time. This is especially important around the holiday season since Embassies close for U.S. holidays and their own national and religious holidays.

If multiple official trips are scheduled within a short time frame (i.e., back to back official travel with less than 3 weeks in between) or personal travel immediately prior to or after the official trip, please indicate this at the time of submission of the application in order to have everything completed and returned in a timely manner.

Countries that Require Special Invitation Letters


Certain countries require special invitation letters in support of the visa application. For example, for travel to Russia, Vietnam, China, and Belarus, start the process of obtaining information from FIC 60 to 90 days prior to departure. Special invitation letters are required from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) in these countries and it takes about 21 days for the sponsor or host of the country to obtain such a letter for the government traveler. For further details, contact your FIC International Travel Program Specialist.

Visa Fees Charged by the Embassies


For Belarus, China, Russia, and Vietnam visas, travelers using the official/diplomatic passport must pay the visa fee at the time the application is submitted to FIC. Currently, these are the only Embassies that charge official and diplomatic passport holders. For travelers using their personal passport, a visa fee will be charged by the Consular Section of the Embassy for which the visa is being obtained. Fees vary depending on the traveler's country of nationality, duration of visa requested, etc.

For travelers using their personal passport, a visa fee will be charged by the Consular Section of the Embassy for which the visa is being obtained. Fees vary depending on the traveler's country of nationality, duration of visa requested, etc.

All travelers that pay for a visa will be given a receipt in order to request reimbursement on their travel voucher. IC CAN numbers or IC/LAB Purchase Cards cannot be accepted for payment.

Travelers Not Eligible for an Official/Diplomatic Passport


Fellows (IRTAs, CRTAs, Visiting Fellows), non-US citizen employees, and contractors can still be assisted in obtaining a visa for official travel on their personal passport. For non-US Citizens, there are some Embassies that require the traveler to submit the application in person and an appointment may be necessary. Contact your FIC International Travel Program Specialist for more information and visa requirements.

Personal Travel


The personal passport must be used if planning to enter a country solely for annual leave in conjunction with an official trip. The FIC Passport Office cannot assist in obtaining visas or tourist U.S. passports for personal travel.


Travel Specialist Contact Information


For questions about passports and visas, contact a Fogarty International Travel Program Specialist.

CIT, CSR, NCATS, NCCAM, NCI, NHGRI, NIA, NIAAA, NIAMS, NIDA, NIDCD, NIDDK, NIGMS, NIMH, NINDS and NLM:

Jeff Chen
chenj@mail.nih.gov
International Travel Program Specialist
Fogarty International Center
Building 31, Room B2C05
31 Center Drive MSC 2220
Bethesda, MD 20892-2220
Tel: 301-402-7516 or 301-827-5555
Fax: 301-480-0680

OD, CC, FIC, NCMHD, NEI, NHLBI, NIAID, NIBIB, NICHD, NIDCR, NIEHS and NINR:

Sandra Fuentes
fuentess@mail.nih.gov
International Travel Program Specialist
Fogarty International Center
Building 31, Room B2C05
31 Center Drive MSC 2220
Bethesda, MD 20892-2220
Tel: 301-496-3441 or 301-827-5555
Fax: 301-480-0680

International Travel Program Assistant:
Rhonda Lane
Rhonda.Lane@nih.gov
Fogarty International Center
Building 31, Room B2C05
31 Center Drive MSC 2220
Bethesda, MD 20892-2220
Tel: 301-496-7614 or 301-827-5555
Fax: 301-480-0680

Additional Resources



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Updated November 2012