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International Visitor’s Leadership Program

The International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) is the U.S. Department of State’s premier professional exchange program. Launched in 1940, the IVLP is a professional exchange program that seeks to build mutual understanding between the U.S. and other nations through carefully designed short-term visits to the U.S. for current and emerging foreign leaders.  These visits reflect the International Visitors’ professional interests and support the foreign policy goals of the United States.

Who are International Visitors?

International Visitors are current or emerging leaders in government, politics, the media, education, the arts, business and other key fields. Over 4,000 International Visitors come to the United States from all over the world each year. Since its inception in 1940, thousands of distinguished individuals have participated in the International Visitor Leadership Program, including more than 290 current and former Chiefs of State and Heads of Government, thousands of cabinet-level ministers, and many other distinguished leaders from the public and private sectors.

What do International Visitors do in the United States?

International Visitors travel to the U.S. for carefully designed programs that reflect their professional interests and U.S. foreign policy goals. They travel in a variety of thematic programs, either individually or in groups, for up to three weeks. While in the U.S., International Visitors typically visit Washington, DC and three additional towns or cities that highlight the tremendous diversity of the U.S. They attend professional appointments with their American counterparts, learn about the U.S. system of government at the national, state and local levels, visit American schools, and experience American culture and social life. Most International Visitors are accompanied in the U.S. by either foreign language interpreters or English language officers, contractors though the State Department’s Office of Language Services. Not only do they provide language interpretation for the International Visitors, but they also help to explain American society, history, and culture.

Can I apply to become an International Visitor?

No, there is no application for this program. International Visitors are selected and nominated annually by American Foreign Service Officers at U.S. Embassies around the world.

Who administers the International Visitor Leadership Program?

The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs funds and administers the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP).  In doing so, the Bureau enters cooperative agreements with National Program Agencies, a group of private, not-for-profit organizations based in Washington, D.C. that design and implement International Visitor Leadership Programs.  In addition to the national program agencies, the International Visitor Leadership Program also relies on the commitment and skills of volunteer-based community organizations across the U.S., know as Councils for International Visitors (CIVs).  Under the professional association of the Global Ties U.S., local CIV members develop professional programs, arrange cultural activities, and provide home hospitality for International Visitors. There are currently more than 90 CIVs in 45 states.

How can Americans get involved in the International Visitor Leadership Program?

There are many opportunities for Americans to get involved. The goal of the International Visitor Leadership Program is to promote mutual understanding between the U.S. and other nations around the world. To get involved in your community, visit the website of the Global Ties U.S. for a list of CIVs and information about activities in your city, state or region.