Learning patterns/International events? Allow three months for visa formalities

International events? Allow three months for visa formalities
problemIf your Wikimedia event is open to international visitors you never know which country they will be from. Don't assume that everyone is travelling on a EU passport.
solutionAllow a minimum of three months time between acceptance of the visitor and the event itself.
created on09:50, 13 November 2014 (UTC)
status:in progress

What problem does this solve?


We lost one prospective participant to a workshop because we had only four weeks between acceptance and workshop date. It turned out he needed a transit visa at the place of changing planes, and could apply for it only after the visa for his final destination was approved. When we experienced the first problem it was already too late for any type of intervention.

What is the solution?


The solution is simple: allow more time! A bit more difficult is it to make organisers aware of the issue, particularly if they never had visa problems themselves, for instance because they travel on a passport that is quickly accepted everywhere. Every country has entry restrictions, and for some nationals it is not easy to overcome them. For events where you know who will be visiting you can research yourself what the process is. But if you don't know the nationality of all your participants you need to allocate a lot of time for them to sort out the paperworks.

Things to consider


Apart from the time aspect, there are other aspects that should be considered early in the process:

  • In case you provide scholarships for (some of the) visa holders, bear in mind that visas costs money and don't forget to include them in your budget (e.g. postage fees for sending (and tracking) documents from one country to another, travel costs to go to the embassy, costs for translation of documents etc.). The amount can vary between 50 and several hundred USD.
  • In the Schengen area the hosting organization of an event is liable for the participants they assist with a visa process. I might be sensible to have an insurance for these visa holders.
  • To apply for a Schengen visa you have to hold a flight reservation. Seeking help or a partnership with travel agencies help to take care of suitbale flight reservations and keep these reservations over months. Don't book a ticket without a visa! Travel cancellation insurances usually don't cover the case of a not granted visa.
  • Visa formalities often require invitation letters - you don't have to reinvent the wheel and ask former organizers for templates (e.g. Wikimedia Germany oder Wikimedia Austria for Schengen visa).

When to use

  • For all international conferences and events.


Did you know... ?
  • ... that Namibians may only apply for a passport once they can prove (show the air ticket) that they plan to travel?
  • ... that South Africa requires certain nationals to apply for a transit visa ahead of time, just for changing planes at OR Tambo airport, Johannesburg?
  • ... that in many countries, the ambassador will interview you personally before granting a visa for the Schengen States?
  • ... that, depending on the country, attending a Wikimedia gathering will require a tourist visa, a business visa, or even a work permit?
  • ... for usa or espace shengen the mexico no need visa for certain country [please clarify]
  • ... that Mexican consulates require a bank statement of the Wikimedia Foundation (WMF) if an applicant applies for a visa on the grounds that the WMF awarded a scholarship?
  • ... that participants from Iran who need Schengen visas need to have a lot of personal documents being translated (job letter, salary slips etc.) into the language of the country they want to visit. This takes time and costs money (that need to be budgeted for scholarship holders of international events)
  • ... that visa applications for people who have not visited the Schengen area usually take more time than for participants who had a visa there before (probably true for other countries and regions as well)
  • ... that huge countries like India often only have one embassy, so documents and applicants have to take long journeys for the process
  • ... that not every country is represented in every country by an embassy. Thus embassies have partnerships as well. E.g. If you want to apply for an Austrian visa in Ghana you have to apply for the Schengen visa at the Embassy of the Netherlands and this application also follows the visa criteria of the Netherlands, even though the applicant will never touch ground in the Netherlands.

All that takes lots of time and effort, both from attendees and from organisers.


  • It is an import issue and a simple solution. The timeframe guarantees that any event provides the least to make visa possible (time). It is obvious this timeframe determines also the timing for the program (you should know if your proposal has been accepted before applying for a scholarship) and the scholarships (you need to know if you will have a grant or not before requesting a visa). iopensa (talk) 13:31, 9 January 2015 (UTC)[reply]
  • Many participants fail to make it to international events because they did not get their visas in time. Allowing at least 3 months time between the conference and the invitation will help people to plan in advance and get the visa in time. Netha Hussain (talk) 17:26, 22 April 2015 (UTC)[reply]
  • Was helpful as a starting point for the organization of the Wikisource Conference 2015 - we included our learnings as well CDG (WMAT staff) (talk) 14:19, 12 January 2016 (UTC)[reply]
  • Turk 21:46, 12 November 2018 (UTC)[reply]

See also