Annual Meeting

2017 Annual Meeting in Boston, Nov 18-21


The American Academy of Religion brings thousands of professors and students, authors and publishers, religious leaders and interested laypersons to its Annual Meeting each year. Co-hosted with the Society of Biblical Literature, the Annual Meetings are the largest events of the year in the fields of religious studies and theology.

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Travel Visa Statement

Subject: 2017 Annual Meeting Participation and Travel Requirements

Update October 18, 2017

The participation of non-US members in the AAR Annual Meeting has grown considerably. This has created a rich exchange of ideas and relationships—a value to every member and to the Academy as a whole. AAR continues to do everything it can to broaden participation and enrich this experience in order for us to foster excellence in the study of religion internationally.

We also recognize that non-US citizens traveling to the United States are facing changing travel guidelines. As the situation evolves, we urge all attendees to inquire about visa requirements in relation to their home countries. The following are important links to information on visa resources and processes:

Annual Meeting registrants who do not hold a US passport and intend to travel as part of the Visa Waiver Program should note the following:

  1. According to current US Government advice, dual nationals of Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Syria, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen are not considered eligible to take part in the Visa Waiver Program even if they hold a first or second passport by a country that is part of the Visa Waiver Program.
  2. Furthermore, and this may be much less well known, anyone who has merely traveled to one of the above-mentioned countries after March 1, 2011, is also considered ineligible to take part in the Visa Waiver Program even if he/she does not hold dual nationality. An ESTA application submitted is likely to be declined.

(On both points, see e.g.,

Thus, any registrant to whom (1) or (2) applies will need to submit a full visa application in order to travel to the Annual Meeting. This is a complex, costly, and time-consuming process that ought to be commenced immediately in order to ensure that travel to the United States will be possible in November.

Finally, it is advised that those already granted permission before the new ESTA regulations re-apply immediately. We apologize for any inconvenience this will cause you.

Official letters of invitation to the Annual Meeting to support visa applications are available. Please indicate during registration in the “Letter of Invitation” portion if you would like to request a letter. If you have questions, you may e-mail after you have completed registration to obtain more details about the information required.

Please note that AAR will fully refund registration fees with no penalty to AAR members in good standing whose visa applications are denied or who are otherwise restricted from entering the United States. For full refund, members must provide a copy of the visa rejection.

AAR is doing everything it can to help its members and ensure a safe and fruitful meeting in Boston. Should you have any questions please write


Jack Fitzmier
Executive Director