The 2015 Special Olympics World Summer Games will take place in Los Angeles, California, from July 25 through Aug. 2, 2015. This year, foreign participants have something new to look forward to: There will be no visa application fee or visa issuance fee required. In 2014, the State Department announced that the fees would be waived for both the 2014 Special Olympics Summer Games Invitational and this year’s main event. Consular posts worldwide have been authorized to issue multiple-entry “B-1/B-2” visitor visas to qualifying applicants.
The visa application fee, also known as a Machine Readable Visa (MRV) fee, can cost $160 or more depending on the visa type. The visa issuance fee, also known as a Reciprocity Fee, varies depending on each applicant’s country of citizenship.
The fee waiver does not apply solely to the event’s athletes. The following individuals will also be exempted from visa fees for the upcoming event:
• Unified Partners (athletes without an intellectual disability who train and compete on teams with persons with intellectual disabilities);
• Coaches, trainers, referees and judges;
• Other supporting staff accredited to the Games (medical doctors, nurses and therapists, Special Olympic staff from the regional offices, and technical delegates to oversee each sport);
• Heads of the Delegation and the Assistant Head(s) of the Delegation;
• Medical doctors participating in the Healthy Athletes Program;
• Global Messengers (former athletes acting as spokespersons during the Games); and
• Police officers who will participate in the final leg of the Torch Run.
Importantly, the seven categories of accredited individuals listed above constitute the only groups of “Special Olympics National Program Members” (SONPMs) eligible for the waiver of visa fees. Friends, family members and spectators who do not fall into the categories above will still be required to pay the two types of mentioned fees. Despite the fee waiver, all applicants must still complete all other visa processing requirements, including attending a visa interview and biometric collection.
For the upcoming World Summer Games, all issued visas will be valid from July 11, 2015 to Aug. 16, 2015. The visas must be annotated “Accredited to the 2015 Special Olympic World Summer Games, Los Angeles, CA.”
Berardi Immigration Law is a global leader in U.S. visa services. Our highly experienced immigration law staff helps hundreds of clients successfully obtain visas each year. If you are interested in obtaining a U.S. visa, call or email us today to schedule a consultation!