About the program
The International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) is the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs' (ECA) premier professional exchange program.
Since 1940, nearly 200,000 International Visitors have engaged with Americans through the IVLP.
The program seeks to build mutual understanding between the U.S. and other nations through short-term visits to the United States. These visits provide an opportunity for International Visitors to:
- meet and confer with their professional counterparts
- gain a greater understanding of U.S. society
- experience American culture firsthand
Each project is carefully designed to reflect the International Visitors' professional interests and support U.S. foreign policy goals.
Since 1972, IIE in Washington has been one of seven private, DC-based nonprofit organizations that design and implement the IVLP, coordinating projects for over 18,000 International Visitors.
IIE Houston and the IIE West Coast office in San Francisco are two of over 90 Councils for International Visitors (CIVs) located in communities across the U.S. Under the professional association of the National Council for International Visitors (NCIV), local CIV members and "citizen diplomats" develop professional programs, arrange cultural activities and provide opportunities for International Visitors to be hosted for dinner in the homes of American families.
Learn more about the IVLP origins
Who are the participants?
Participants are current and emerging leaders in government, politics, the media, education, business and trade, nongovernmental organizations, student groups, the arts and other fields.
There is no application process. International Visitors are selected by U.S. Foreign Service Officers at U.S. Embassies around the world.
As of March 2012, 53 current and more than 275 former Chiefs of State or Heads of Government are IVLP alumni.
Learn more about distinguished past participants
What happens on an IVLP project?
The typical IVLP project is three weeks. Most begin their program in Washington, DC, then travel to three or four other communities across the U.S., highlighting the diversity of American culture and landscape.
Participants are introduced to American federalism and how the nation's history and culture are reflected in the the decentralized nature of decision-making. They often take part in lectures, round-table discussions, and professional site-visits and conferences, along the way exchanging and networking with professional counterparts from both the public and private sectors.
They also get a taste of American culture, frequently touring historical sites, parks, and museums, diving fork-first into new foods, and experiencing every type of performing art from ballet to break-dancing, from a grand symphony to a small jazz club, or from community theater to the bright lights on Broadway.
Depending on the project and theme, participants may be traveling alone, with others from their home country, or they may be in a group of all different nationalities.
Most International Visitors are accompanied by either English language officers or foreign language interpreters, who explain American society, history, and culture, in addition to language interpretation.