You are here

Information for International Participants

Information for International Participants

The LSA Institute has played host to participants from many different countries over the years, and we very much hope that the 2015 Institute will be no exception. Participants who are not US citizens or permanent residents will need to enter the US on a visa or visa waiver.
If you are coming to the institute as part of a trip to the US for purposes of business or pleasure (and not as an international student), you are not eligible for F-1 or J-1 student status and will most likely apply for a B visa or come to the US under the Visa Waiver Program, which is managed through the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA). While traveling in the US or spending time here for business purposes, you may enroll in a course that is “avocational or recreational” in nature, and the institute falls into that category. The same is true if you are coming to the US specifically to attend this institute. In immigration terms, one would think about it like a symposium or conference rather than a class, and it is important that you communicate this accurately for purposes of obtaining a visa or registering with ESTA.

If you are coming to the institute before entering a program of study at the University of Chicago (or another institution) in the fall of 2015, you must enter the US in the appropriate international student status. The program to which you have been admitted in the University will work with you on the details and the visa document you will receive from the Office of International Affairs will take your attendance in the institute into account. If you were to enter the US in B status or under the Visa Waiver Program to participate in the institute before beginning your program of study here, you would have to leave the US again after the institute is completed and re-enter the US in the appropriate international student status before being able to commence your academic program here.

If you are in the US as an international student attending another institution and you plan to attend the institute during your summer break, nothing is required. Your existing F-1 or J-1 student status covers attendance during the summer at your home institution or at the University of Chicago. If you have questions regarding your plans, please consult with your international student adviser at your current institution. This is also the office with whom you should consult if you plan to attend the institute at the University of Chicago in the summer and then join another institution in the US this coming fall for an academic program.

If none of the circumstances described above apply to you and you have visa-related questions or if you encounter difficulties in obtaining a visa to attend the institute, please contact Becky Fabrizio at

For additional information, please see the website of the Office of International Affairs.
Any participant who is traveling from outside the US to attend the Institute should contact our assistant, Becky Fabrizio, at, to request a "letter of invitation" to the Institute. This letter will be on University of Chicago letterhead and will explain the purpose of your visit to the US and can be provided to immigration officials upon request. We strongly advise that you carry this letter with you on your trip. Signed and scanned letters will be sent via email as PDF documents unless you request otherwise.