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Global Travelers

Plan Ahead to Attend IFT FIRST in 2024

IFT is looking forward to welcoming you to IFT FIRST: Annual Event and Expo July 14-17 at McCormick Place in Chicago, IL.

Advanced travel planning to attend IFT FIRST is critical as wait times for visa appointments can be extensive. We strongly encourage you to start the visa process now and we are here to help.

As a special courtesy to our international registrants, IFT is offering the opportunity to request a visa invitation letter to aid in your travel plans to Chicago.



PLEASE NOTE: This form is for requesting your visa invitation letter only. You will still need to complete the formal registration process to officially secure your spot at IFT FIRST.

For Additional Information

Travel Basics

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  • Air Travel Preparation

    Prior to booking your air travel, please ensure you have or will be able to complete all of the Pre-Departure Travel Requirements for travel to the United States. You can find the most current requirements for travel under Visa information at Travel State Gov.

  • Electricity

    In North America, our electricity is delivered at Voltage 120, frequency 60 Hz. Adaptors that may be required are two flat blades or two flat blades with a round grounding pin.

  • Etiquette

    Become familiar with American etiquette for private, public, and business interactions.

    Tipping in the United States is customary. A 15% to 20% tip is usually expected in restaurants, taxis, and for services you receive.

    Smoking Etiquette
    Smoking, as well as the use of an e-cigarette, vape pen, or e-hookah, is prohibited in virtually all enclosed public places in Chicago. These places include, but are not limited to:

    • Convention facilities
    • Bars and restaurants
    • Recreational facilities including enclosed sports arenas and stadiums
    • Shopping malls
    • Public restrooms

    Smoking is also prohibited within 15 feet of the entrance of these establishments.

    View information on the City of Chicago’s Clean Indoor Air Ordinance.

  • Exchange Rate

    To best prepare, check the current exchange rate of your currency to U.S. dollars.

  • Business Hours, Language & Time Zone

    Standard business hours are 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.

    Sessions at the event are conducted in English.

    Chicago is in the Central Time Zone. In July, the Central Time Zone is five hours behind UTC.

  • Phone & Internet

    Hotels offer high-speed Internet connections.

    Telephone Calls:

    • U.S. country code: +1
    • Downtown Chicago area code: (312) for most hotels and businesses 
    • U.S. telephone numbers have ten digits total, which includes the area code and a seven digit phone number (e.g., 312-555-1234)
    • To make a call, dial “1,” then the area code, and then the seven-digit number
    • To call internationally from Chicago, dial "011," then the country code, then the area code, and then the number
  • Visas

    To help you with your travel arrangements, below are links to important information regarding visa invitation letters, visas, and other resources.

    Visa Invitation Letters
    During the online registration process you will have the opportunity to request a Visa Invitation Letter. You must register to attend IFT FIRST in order to receive an official visa invitation letter. 

    Visa Invitation Letters
    During the online registration process you will have the opportunity to request a Visa Invitation Letter. You must register to attend IFT FIRST in order to receive an official visa invitation letter.

    Visa Information
    The U.S. government requires residents of many countries to obtain a temporary visa before entering the United States. Recent changes to the visa application process may have increased the length of time required to receive your visa. It is very important to apply for a visa at least 90 days prior to departure. For information on U.S. visa policies and procedures, visit the U.S Visa information section at Travel.State.Gov.

    Visa Waiver Program
    The Visa Waiver Program (VWP) enables citizens of 40 countries to travel to the United States for tourism or business for 90 days or less without obtaining a visa.

    In order to travel without a visa on the VWP, you must have authorization through the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) prior to boarding an approved U.S. bound air or sea carrier. ESTA is the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Customs and Border Protection's (CBP) automated web-based system to determine eligibility to travel without a visa to the United States for tourism or business. VWP travels must also have the correct type of passport.

    To obtain a complete list of exempt countries and learn more, visit the Visa Waiver Program website.

    Unfortunately, IFT is unable to assist individuals with obtaining visas for IFT FIRST other than providing a visa invitation letter. This can be obtained during the registration process. Visa invitation letters will not be provided prior to registration. If a visa is denied to a registered attendee, IFT will refund the individual provided the individual is able to send the rejection letter received from the US Consulate.

    Additional Questions?

    Contact Us