Why not Invite your Family to the USA
Family is everything.
But, whether it’s due to a new career, love or the need to live somewhere where ‘the grass is greener’ sometimes we have to live apart from those we hold dearest.
However, no matter how many perks await you on the other side, knowing that leaving your family might be only temporary, and that you might soon be reconnected with them may not still sufficiently prepare you for the accompanying grief that is likely to follow.
And, who is to say that anything can quite compare to the exhilaration of being able to invite them for a visit, a life changing event or any reason whatsoever…they are family anyway, why would you need an explanation?
So, how do you go about inviting your family to the US?
Things Required in order to Invite Your Family to the USA
There are many immigrants in the USA whose family resides outside the country, so you are definitely not alone; but as you may already know the first and perhaps most important requirement for an international trip is a visa.
Ultimately, other requirements would aid the family member(s) to obtain their visa –
The following are the requirements for an invite to be valid;
A Knowledge of The Type of Visa Required
Knowledge of the type of visa required by the family is required to structure the invitation and this depends on the length of stay/the purpose of the visit.
- An Affidavit of support form is required an accompanying documentation to obtain a US visa – this is otherwise known as the US visa sponsor form, and can be downloaded on the US immigration website.
- A Letter of Invitation addressed to the family member(s) is also required; this should include the length of the visit as well as its purpose
- A Letter to US Consulate is also required and this should request that visa be granted to the family member.
( Which are meant to demonstrate your financial ability to host said family member)
- Bank statements: At least your latest two bank statements.
- Bank account verification letter: This would prove the state of your bank account and bank balance.
- A copy of a few recent income tax returns
- And, if you are self employed or business owner, copy of your personal tax return.
Evidence of Your Residency Status In USA
- A Copy of passport.
- Your letter of employment (if the sponsor is an employee in USA).
- If you are a Visa holder; Copies of your – Visa and approval Form. (If visa has expired but has a renewed petition, a photocopy of the renewed petition would be necessary as well)
- If you are a Green Card Holder; A Copy of Green Card front and back.
- If you are a USA citizen; A Copy of certificate of citizenship.
*If Inviting Parents they require;
- A own copy of your birth certificate. (If the birth certificate is not available an affidavit may be helpful)
- A copy of your passport.
What Kind of Visa is required to invite Your Family over to the USA?
There are two kinds of visa’s that could be required in order to invite your family over to the USA, the use of either is depends on the length of stay of said invite and your residential status as the invitee;
A visitor visa is a non-immigrant tourist visa issued to people entering the US temporarily for pleasure or tourism, medical treatment, visiting family members, attending special events or family functions. The visitor visa is also known as a B2 visa.
These tourist visas are granted for specific purposes as are outlined above, other intentions such as the involvement in study, business and/or work are not covered in the visa requirement; so, if the purpose of the trip is anything order than tourism, medical treatment, visiting family members, attending special events or family functions then they would be required to apply for US Business Visa (B1 Visa).
The maximum length of stay in US on visitor visa can be 6 months or less, which is subject to grant at the port of entry at US airport on arrival. However, an extension to maximum 6 months is possible but subject to approval.
*Citizens of certain countries may not require a visa if the trip is less than 90 days. This is known US Visa Waiver Program (VWP).
Steps to obtain a Visitor Visa –
Step 1: Get a Digital Photograph of the Family Member:
A digital photograph of the family member that specifically meets the requirements of US visa application is needed for identification – a good photographer or studio can photograph this picture if you mention that it is needed for US visa application.
The digital photograph must meet the following requirements –
- The digital photograph must be a square.
- Minimum dimensions must be 600 pixels by 600 pixels.
- Maximum dimensions must be 1200 pixels by 1200 pixels.
- Image must be in color (24 bits per pixel).
- Image must be in the JPEG format (.jpg or .jpeg file extension).
- File size of the image must be less than or equal to 240 kilobytes.
Step 2: Complete Visitor Visa Application (Form DS160)
A form DS160 is an online non-immigrant visa application and it must be completed online, over the internet, it is found on the consular electronic application center.
After successfully completing the application, the family member will receive a confirmation with a 10-digit barcode – they are required to take a printout of this page and this will be needed for setting up their visa interview appointment.
Step 3: Pay The Visitor Visa Application Fee
The fee can be paid either electronically as a bank transfer.
In order to ensure the proper amount is paid and activated in a timely manner, they should first create a profile at US visa Service website and choose the Schedule Appointment option. On the payment confirmation screen they will be presented with payment options and further details of how to initiate payment.
The fee is only valid for a year from the date of payment, so they must take an appointment within a year for their visa interview.
Step 4: Take Appointment For Visa Interview
After payment of the required fee, they will be required to schedule 2 appointments as part of the visitor visa process.
The two-part appointment process consists of an appointment with one of the five Offsite Facilitation Center (OFC), they will be required to give Biometrics information which includes fingerprinting and photograph (earlier obtained), and second an appointment with the Consulate or Embassy for a personal visa interview.
Step 5.Visitor Visa Fingerprinting at Visa Application Center (VAC)
After taking appointment with the consulate or embassy for personal interview, they would be expected to schedule the fingerprinting appointment at least a day or two before the interview at the consulate.
- Step 6. Go for visa interview at designated US consulate
On the day and time of their appointment for interview, they are expected to go to the consulate where their interview is scheduled along with all mandatory and supporting documents and originals. They include;
- Their passport (and your old passports if any)
- Their photograph
- The DS160 Confirmation page (stamped).
- Visa application fee receipts
- Their Interview Appointment letter
- Other Supporting documents.
- Family-Based Immigrant Visas
A green card resident of the United States may petition for certain members to immigrate to the United States as permanent residents; and there are two types of family based immigrant visa categories, including immediate family relatives and family preference categories.
The following individuals may granted the family-based immigrant visa –
- A spouse (husband/wife of U.S citizen/green card holder)
- Unmarried children of U.S citizen/green card holder (under 21)
- Adopted/to-be-adopted children (U.S citizen/green card holder)
- Parents (of the U.S citizen – who must be 21 years or older to issue invitations)
- Bothe unmarried and married sons and daughters of US citizens/green card holders with their spouses and minor children
- Brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens/green card holder , their spouses and minor children.
Application Process for Family Based Immigrant Visas
To obtain a green card for your family member, you must:
- File Petition for Alien Relative
- Provide proof of your status to demonstrate that you are a permanent resident.
- Submit evidence of the qualifying relationship such as a birth certificate, marriage certificate, divorce decree, etc. See the form instructions for specific documents required.
- Submit proof of any legal name change for you or your family member (the beneficiary).
*Note: Grandparents, aunts, uncles, in-laws, and cousins cannot sponsor a relative for immigration.
*US Visa Waiver Program
The US Visa Waiver Program (VWP) allows citizens of certain countries to enter into the United States without a Visa for a short business or tourist trip of 90 days or less. There are certain criteria that need to be fulfilled in order to qualify for the program and not all countries participate in it, nor do all citizens of participating countries qualify for the VWP.
Citizens of these countries may be eligible for the VWP –
Eligibility is further determined a few other requirements of the US Visa Waiver Program , they include;
- A machine readable passport.
- A Passport that is valid at least 6 months from the expected day of departure from the United States.
- That the family member has complied with the conditions of previous admissions under the Visa Waiver Program and has not been found ineligible for a U.S. visa.
- The family member arrives by an approved carrier (Most major airlines and cruise ships are approved carriers)
- The family member has a return ticket to any foreign location besides any part of United States.
- If arriving by land, the family member must demonstrate the intent to stay 90 days or less in the United States and have sufficient funds to support themselves during his/her stay here.
- Affidavit of support form for US visa. ( US visa sponsor form)
An affidavit of support form is required to be completed and provided on the family member’s behalf by the sponsor (you). The form is to be downloaded and completed with correct and applicable information.
- Letter of Invitation addressed to visa applicants
A letter of invitation addressed to the family member is also required.
A sample is provided below, which you may chose to modify to suit your specific purpose. It is advised always better to write a letter that reflects your personal situation
Remember that this is just a sample and we are not in any way connected to the US immigration.
1234 ,56th Street,
New York, NY 78910
29th April 2018
Mr John and Mrs Jane Joe
1234 Name of Street,
Dear Mum and Dad,
This as a formal invitation for you to visit me in the United states for 1 month. I have missed you both terribly and hopefully at about the time of your arrival, the weather will be nice and warm and we can visit a few of the tourist centers in the U.S.A.
I will be fully responsible for your accommodation, transportation and other expenses within the United States for the duration of your stay. I am sure this will be a good opportunity for you to experience the American culture and meet with some of my new friends and neighbor.
Kindly, take this letter along with you for your visa interview. I look forward to having you with me this summer.
I love and miss you both.
John Doe (Jnr).
- A Letter to US Consulate requesting that visa be granted to the person you are Inviting.
Also written below is a sample of a letter – this is addressed to the US consulate and expresses your interest to have your guests come to visit;
April 29th, 2018
United States Consulate General
Address of the Consulate
Dear Honorable Consul,
JOHN DOE- PASSPORT NO AO234567 AND JANE DOE – PASSPORT NO – A02343377
My name is John Doe, and I reside at 1234, 56th Street, New York, 78910NY . I am a United States citizen (or lawful permanent resident immigrant).
I am requesting that you issue a tourist (B-2) visa to my parents Mr John Doe and Mrs Jane Doe, in order to allow them to visit with me in the United States. I have not seen either of my parents in the last 4 years and I would like them to visit, this summer.
Mr and Mrs Doe will be visiting with me from June 1st 2019 to June 30th 2019 . This will be a great time because I will be off work at this time. During their stay in the United States, they will stay with me at my home at the address stated above.
I will be responsible for all of their accommodation expenses while they are in the United States. Upon the termination of their visit, I will personally ensure that they return to Abuja, Nigeria.
My Parents will be presenting this letter to you, together with other evidence to establish their close ties with Nigeria , and to assure you that they will return prior to the expiration of their stay in the United States.
Your kind consideration to this request will be greatly appreciated.
1234 56th Street, New York, NY 78910
The final phase of the process is the visa interview at the US embassy or consulate where the appointment for the visa would be scheduled. Persons with incomplete applications will not be admitted and persons with special needs who require assistance are required to contact the consulate at least 48 hours prior to the interview to arrange admittance for an assistant.
The interviewer is expected to ask questions and verify the documents of the individual. Advice the invited family member to answer truthfully and confidently, and also to answer only the questions they are asked – The primary goal of the interview is to verify all information presented in the application and to make sure that they qualify for the desired visa.
If the interviewer approves your application, they will know immediately – their passport will usually be delivered to their mailing address by courier within 3-4 business days. Under some circumstances, they may be allowed to pick up your passport in person. If their visa is denied or put on hold, they will be informed accordingly. They will be able to pick up their passport soon after the interview.
Here are a few other things to remind your family member while on a trip to the USA;
Prepare For a Culture Shock; T.V is not sufficient preparation for the realities of living in the USA, especially if they are coming from a more conservative environment.
Their Accent Might Pose a Problem; Their accents may pose a bit of a barrier in communication; reassure them that it’s okay to be a little baffled at this.
Stock up on dollar bills; …Because, there’s no such thing as too much money.
And while all of this is wonderful, it is important to also remember to savor the moments spent with family. Family is, after all, everything.