Passports and Visas for NIH Employees

Page last reviewed: December 3, 2014

The Fogarty International Center (FIC) at NIH processes applications only for official and diplomatic passports and visas for NIH employees. Fogarty does not process applications for personal or tourist passports, or obtain passports or visas for travelers from other U.S. 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 (e.g., fellows, such as IRTAs or CRTAs, and employees who are not U.S. citizens) are permitted to travel on official business with personal passports.

HHS requires all government travelers to have an official passport. For further information, review "Section 6.2.4.1 - Passports" of the HHS Travel Policy Manual. Official passports are for official use only and may not be used for personal travel.

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

Passport validity

Although requirements 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.

Apply for an official passport

To apply for an official passport, the traveler must be a:

  1. U.S. citizen and
  2. U.S. federal government employee

Important: You must submit an Information Sheet (see detailed instructions below) along with any form you provide FIC.

Requests for official passports should be submitted 4 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 [PDF 35K] and bring it to Building 31, Room B2C05.

To apply for an official passport, there must be a trip planned. Please note the tentative or definite destination on the Information Sheet.

All completed documents must be forwarded to FIC. Processing takes 2 to 4 weeks.

Application DS 82 for official passport or renewing official passport

Use the DS 82 form to apply by submitting your personal passport; it will be returned to FIC with the new official passport.
NOTE: Use the instruction sheet given on this site, NOT the instructions on the State Department website! Only print pages 5 and 6 of the 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 DS 11 form must be completed. The form should not be signed until you meet with a passport agent at FIC. Along with the DS 11 form, you must submit your birth certificate or naturalization certificate; it will be returned to FIC with the new official passport.
NOTE: Use the instruction sheet given on this site, NOT the instructions on the State Department website!
Only print page 5 and 6 of the application:

Application DS 4085 to add visa pages to official passport

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

DS-64: Statement regarding lost or stolen passport

This form should be submitted with the DS-11 application and its requirements if the official passport is lost or stolen.
NOTE: Use the instructions given on this site, NOT the instructions on the State Department website! Only print page 1 of the 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. Take your IC CAN numbers 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 - 7:30 pm. Please see their website for further information and travel immunization request form.


Visas

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 are valid for 30 days, 3 months, 6 months, 1 year, or 5 years from date of issue. Some visas 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, and only for a certain period of time, then it will expire.
  • Double-Entry Visa can be used to enter the same country twice for a certain period of time, 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.

Which 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 U.S. official/diplomatic passports. It does NOT apply to U.S. personal passports or 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 where you are planning to conduct NIH business.

Visa application and requirements

Visa applications and requirements must be submitted to FIC at least 30 days before travel takes place. Email your FIC International Travel Program Specialist to request visa application forms and requirements at least four weeks prior to travel unless otherwise noted in the official passport visa chart. 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 before a visa is processed. (This is also the case if a visa is not required for entry.)

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

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

Countries requiring 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; 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 embassies

For Belarus and China 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 personal passports, a visa fee will be charged by the Consular Section of the embassy for which the visa is obtained. Fees vary depending on the traveler's country of nationality, duration of visa requested, etc.

All travelers paying for a visa will receive a receipt 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-U.S. citizen employees and contractors can be assisted in obtaining a visa for official travel with personal passports. Some embassies require non-U.S. citizens 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 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 an International Travel Program Specialist at Fogarty:

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

Jeff Chen
Jeff.Chen@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

For OD, CC, FIC, NCMHD, NHLBI, NIAID, NICHD, NIEHS and NINR:

Sandra Fuentes
Sandra.Fuentes@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

For NCCAM, NEI, NIAAA, NIAMS, NIBIB and NIDCR:

Rhonda Lane
Rhonda.Lane@nih.gov
International Travel Program Assistant
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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Page last reviewed: December 3, 2014

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