Students often want to invite family members and friends to visit. Plan ahead! It can take several months for your family members and friends to gather the necessary paperwork and obtain visas. Tickets should be booked after a visa has been issued to prevent losing money if the visa is denied.
Choosing the Right Visa
If you want to invite any family member or friend to visit for a short time, they can apply for a B-1/B-2 visa. General information on getting a B-1/B-2 visitor visa can be found on the US Department of State’s website. Your family members and friends should check with their local US consulate or embassy for special requirements.
Gathering the Right Information
To start the visa application process, your family members and friends will need to complete Form DS-160, the Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application form. A visa appointment can only be made after completing this form. The applicant must be truthful on all questions.
An Invitation Letter from the University is not necessary for visa interviews. Long ago, these were needed, but the Department of State has confirmed that invitation letters are not considered in visa interviews. The OIE does not write these letters for this reason. However, in our instructions below, we recommend that you, the student, write an invitation letter for your family members.
Once a visa appointment has been made, your friend or family member will need to gather supporting documentation for the visa interview. Generally, these are documents that are useful or required for B-1/B-2 Visa applicants:
Letter from you in both your native language and English saying:
- Why you want them to come visit you.
- For how long.
- Where they will be staying.
- Who is going to pay for their visit.
Copy of your current I-20 or DS-2019
Enrollment confirmation letter showing that you are a full-time student: This is available through your MyUVM account. Choose the “Registrar” tab at the top, then click on the “My Verification” box in the middle of the page.
Bank statement from you or from your family members showing the funds necessary to support them during their visit.
The Visa Interview
Your family members and friends should bring the documents listed above. The embassy or consulate may ask for additional information or documentation. For example, if the consular officer is not convinced that your family members and friends will return home after visiting you, he/she may ask your family members and friends for additional documentation to prove their ties to their home country and their intent to return home.
Some questions a consular officer is thinking about during the interview are:
- What is your purpose for visit the US?
- How will you pay for your visit in the US?
- How do I know you will not stay in the US permanently?
Once the visa interview is complete, a decision will be made. If approved, the visa will be printed and placed into the passport. Sometimes this takes just a day or two, sometimes longer. It is important to plan ahead to avoid travel problems.
Once they are here, bring your family members and friends by the OIE! We would love to meet them!