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  1. International & Interagency Coordination

CFSAN International Visitor's Program

This document describes the International Visitor's Program within the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN), and provides useful information pertinent to the program. More specifically, it is an overview that shares who visits and why, it highlights procedures used for receiving visitors, and lists the criteria for accepting or declining a request for short- and long-term visits. Other inclusions are security measures and what potential visitors should expect. It provides a link to obtain information on visas and includes a terminology section to familiarize potential visitors and/or their contacts with commonly used abbreviations in the CFSAN Visitor's Program.

Following the overview section is a listing of Frequently Asked Questions with answers that further adds clarity regarding who to contact, what documentation to submit, and critical information pertaining to requests to visit laboratories. Housing accommodations and directions and where to search for translated documents are also included.

CFSAN is the Center in the U.S. Food and Drug Administration that is responsible for promoting and protecting the public's health by ensuring that the nation's food supply is safe, sanitary, wholesome, and honestly labeled, and that cosmetic products are safe and properly labeled.  CFSAN employs approximately 850 permanent individuals geographically located in the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Area. Most of CFSAN employees are situated in the Harvey Wiley Building located in College Park, Maryland. This location is just minutes away from the University of Maryland College Park campus and right across the street from the College Park - U. of Md. Metro Station on the green line.

The International Visitors Program (IVP) within FDA/CFSAN is a major component of international activities and is managed by CFSAN’s International Affairs Staff.  CFSAN receives numerous requests to accommodate short-term (no longer than 30-day) visits by foreign nationals from government, industry, academia and the public sector.  These visits usually range from one hour to several days in length, and may be hosted by one or more CFSAN employees as a private office visit or a multifaceted program involving several offices.  During these visits CFSAN may provide overviews of FDA policy and organizational structure, technical assistance and other scientific information of importance in assuring the safety of foreign exports that enter into the U.S. food supply, as well as improving global food safety in general. 

Long-term visitors on the other hand stay longer than 30 days.  These visitors are considered as international scientists.  In the past most of the long-term visitors have been post doctorates, who have assisted CFSAN researchers in a collaborative manner.  Long-term requests require background checks and can take as long as 6-months to obtain clearance.

Individuals have come from as far away as Australia and as nearby as Mexico. Discussions have included such topics as foods produced through modern biotechnology, inspections, imports, labeling, risk assessments, seafood, and global harmonization. In the past, long-term visitors have worked along side of CFSAN's scientists on the effects of conjugated linoleic acids, synthesis of furan fatty acids and analysis of food fiber, and irradiated polymeric packaging materials.

Various avenues are used to schedule a visit to CFSAN. Some write, others telephone while many send an e-mail message to a familiar person or to the Director of the International Visitor Program. Others may include connections made while visiting different U.S. government agencies; some directly seek the assistance of government officials who have visited their home country; and others write Embassy officials or the Center Director.

Criteria for Short-Term Visits

The following criteria are intended to assure that the International Visitors Program (IVP) align with Center strategic goals for enhancing the safety of food and cosmetics and the protection of public health.

Priority will be given to:

  • FDA OIP – Including FDA Foreign Posts
  • Government Ministries
  • National Government Agencies (food safety regulators)
  • Foreign National Government Sponsored Visits (food safety
  • regulators)
  • Countries with which FDA has an existing working relationship (e.g.,
  • FDA Regional Office Countries, MOU Countries, Codex (Quads))
  • Foreign Embassies
  • Multilateral Health Organizations (e.g., WHO, FAO, PAHO)
  • External Stakeholders’ International Program Divisions.  Foreign
  • Nationals selected to participate in the following International
  • Program:
  • USDA/FAS Cochran Fellowship Program
  • USDA Borlaug Fellows Program
  • State Department International Visitor Leadership Program

Other Guidelines

  • Provide a 30-day notice from the receipt of the completed request
  • form
  • A maximum of 20 delegates for any single visit (based of conference
  • room space availability)
  • Meetings will have a 2 hour limit unless there are special concessions
  • Visitors can not be invited to CFSAN to fulfill visa requirements
  • Visit can only be considered if related to Center strategic goals and
  • Program priorities
  • Visitors must provide an interpreter if there is not a working level of English

A request may be declined for any of the following reasons:

  • Failure to comply with the 30-day notice requirement
  • Failure to complete and submit FVDR form in timely manner
  • Failure to provide appropriate background information in the
  • International Visit Request Form
  • Security clearance is denied
  • Center personnel unavailable to meet with visitor(s)
  • Specific interests are not related to Center strategic goals and Program priorities
  • External Stakeholder fails to discuss the details of the visit with IAS,
  • and in consultation with OIP, prior to making a commitment on behalf CFSAN to participate in the meeting (see policy above)
  • Requests coming from private facilitators or travel agencies

Criteria for Long-Term Visits

The following criteria will be fully adhered to during the decision-making

process on whether to accept or decline a request for a long-term visit to


Priority will be given to:

  • Government Ministries
  • National Government bodies (food safety regulators)
  • FDA Regional Office Countries
  • Countries with which FDA already working
  • Foreign National Government Sponsored Visits (food safety
  • Regulators)
  • Federal Stakeholders
  • State Department
  • OIP OC
  • Foreign Embassies

Priority will be given to:

  • Submission of required documents
  • 1-year limit, unless there is a special concession
  • Visit can only be considered if related to priorities in an existing
  • Program Office

Visit request can also be declined if:

  • Failure to submit appropriate background information
  • Failure to obtain appropriate visa or security clearance
  • Center personnel are unavailable to host visit
  • Requests come from facilitators or travel agencies

Please Note

We can not always accommodate visits, and give priority to visits from government bodies in other countries.  For requests that do not come from a government body (e.g., industry, academia, public sector, individuals), we may sometimes be able to arrange a visit, but in must instances, we may have to refer the requester to our online learning modules and/or to pertinent programmatic information on FDA’s food safety laws, regulations, and policies.

What Potential Visitors Should Expect

  • Short-Term Visitors: Short-term visitors should expect to receive an agenda that highlights their name, country, and topic of interest, meeting location and with whom they will meet. They will receive the names of a contact point for questions or concerns and a package of pertinent information based on interest. In some instances, information will be downloaded from the CFSAN Web in the individual's native language. Visitors will also be expected to complete an evaluation form at the conclusion of the visit.
  • Long-Term Visitors: Prior to the visit, the individual will receive a letter of invitation that states with whom the individual will work, it will discuss responsibility for transportation, housing, food, insurance and miscellaneous expenses. If CFSAN is to provide a stipend to assist with living expenses during the visit, a statement to that effect will be included. Further, the letter will provide where the visitor will be assigned and his/her particular project. It will include an approximate beginning and ending date. It is understood that CFSAN officials do not supervise international visiting scientists, what we do is to work in cooperation with the visitors. International Scientists are encouraged to keep a copy of their IAP-66 form and telephone number of their CFSAN contact and that of the IVP Coordinator with them at all times while traveling throughout North America. 

Special Consideration Called for in Certain Situations

Foreign High-Level Involvement: When high-level international foreigners visit CFSAN, it is appropriate to have a CFSAN high-level official or senior member or designee participate in the discussion to provide a welcome and possibly to discuss appropriate Center highlights on urgent issues.

Recording/Camera: As a general rule, recorders are not permitted in a discussion session. CFSAN officials may or may not allow pictures to be taken. This is a matter of personal discretion. 


Information on visas can be found on the web site of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services at: http://uscis.gov/

Short-Term and Long-Term Request Procedures


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