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The US Department of State's International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP)

The International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) is an official U.S. government exchange program administered by the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. The objective of the program is to advance U.S. foreign policy goals by increasing mutual understanding between the people of the United States and those of other countries. The IVLP is the U.S. Department of State’s premier professional exchange program.

Through short-term visits to the United States, current and emerging foreign leaders in a variety of fields experience this country firsthand and cultivate lasting relationships with their American counterparts. Professional meetings reflect the participants’ professional interests and support the foreign policy goals of the United States. Current and emerging leaders from across the world come to the United States on the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) to meet with professional counterparts and visit U.S. public and private sector organizations related to their field of interest.

International Visitors also share their culture and offer insight on best practices and perspectives with their hosts in the United States. International Visitors are accompanied by either foreign language interpreters or English language officers, contractors though the State Department’s Office of Language Services, who also facilitate travel and help explain American society, history, and culture.

The International Visitor Program brings almost 5,000 foreign visitors to the U.S. each year to meet and confer with their professional counterparts and to experience the United States firsthand. The visitors, who are current or potential leaders in government, politics, the media, education, and other fields, are carefully selected by American embassy officials overseas.  Over 335 current and former heads of state, thousands of cabinet-level ministers, and many other distinguished world leaders in government and the private sector have participated in the International Visitor Leadership Program over the past 75 years.

Every year, almost 5,000 international visitors come to the United States. Since 1940,
more than 200,000 international visitors have engaged with Americans through the IVLP.
30 current and 314 former Chiefs of State or Heads of Government are IVLP alumni.

In 2019, SACIV hosted 338 visitors from 102 countries around the globe


Who Administers the IVLP?

The U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs funds and administers the IVLP in cooperation with a group of private, not-for-profit organizations based in Washington, D.C. In addition, the IVLP relies on the commitment and skills of more than 90 volunteer-based community organizations in 44 states that are members of the Global Ties U.S. network. 

What do International Visitors do in the US?

Participants typically visit four U.S. communities over three weeks, and projects vary by theme and requests from U.S. Embassies around the world.
As they travel, participants:


  • Meet with representatives of U.S. public and private sector organizations related to the project theme

  • Explore American society, history, and culture, led by international visitor liaisons or foreign language interpreters

  • Engage in home hospitality with American families


There is no application for the IVLP. Participants are nominated by the staff at U.S. Embassies around the world and project topics are tied to key U.S. foreign policy priorities.

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