So you’ve been accepted to MIT Launch. First of all, congratulations! You’re in for one crazy summer. But now, if you’re from outside the US you’re probably going to have to start thinking of logistics, and most of all getting a visa.
I’m Ciara and I was a student in the Launch Class of 2015. As I am from Ireland, I am allowed to freely enter the United States without a visa for tourist purposes, but as MIT Launch wasn’t exactly a holiday, I wasn’t sure if that would cover it. I did a bit of research and came up with two options:
Business Visa (B-1)
After considering all my options I ended up applying and getting a business visa. This covers you to enter the United States for temporary business purposes, with the maximum duration of your stay being 6 months. As Launch can technically be considered a business incubator this visa will permit you to attend the program. Personally I think this is the best option for most people as, depending on where you are from it can be valid for up to 10 years. This means if your Launch company takes off (which hopefully it will) you will be able to return to the USA for business trips, conferences etc. using this visa for the next ten years before you will have to renew it.
To get this visa you will likely need a letter of acceptance for Launch (which I got emailed to me and printed myself) and the address in which you will be staying for the duration of your time in Boston (I just gave the address of MIT Campus). However I would recommend you consult the US embassy or consul in your country to get more detailed instructions.
Tourist Visa (B-2)
By considering Launch as a summer program rather than a business incubator it could be possible to use a tourist visa to enter the country. I personally would see this as a less reliable option due to the fact that the length of your stay is determined by the Department of Homeland Security upon your entry to the United States, so it adds an extra variable to the equation. Also, if you ever want to return to the US for business purposes, this visa will not permit your entry.
If you already have a B-2 visa and would like to use this for Launch, I’d advise you again consult the US embassy or consul in your country to get more guidance from them.
So that’s my tips for you! And once you get your visa you can concentrate on what’s important – getting super excited for the summer of a lifetime you are about to experience!