How to Get a U.S. Tourist Visa for Your Parents
Posted by Frank Gogol
You have chosen to work in a new place far away from your home and you might be worried about the logistics of having family visits to and from your home country. This is a common doubt for recent hires in the United States from other countries. The question might not come up right away since you have just spent the majority of your time worrying about securing your stay in the US.
However, it will come up once you realize you can’t always spend your short vacation time in the US to travel across the globe to see your family once a year. It might not be enough quality time you desire, and your parents might have more free time to visit you instead of you going across oceans to see them.
So you might be wondering what the process is in order to apply for a visa for your parents to come to visit you in the United States and we have the answers for you outlined in detail in this document.
Whether you are going through a big life change you want your parents to be with you for, or you just desire more face-to-face time with your family in person instead of through a screen, you will have to know how to correctly apply for a visa for them.
We will let you know what documents you need to apply for a US tourist visa, as well as how the entire procedure works so that you can get started as soon as possible and have your family enjoying their time in your new home with you!
Read on to learn more, or check out our video 9 Critical Steps of Applying for a B2 Visitor Visa!
Table of Contents
The B2 Visa Visitor Process
Remember these 2 things before you apply for your family member’s US tourist visa:
We know you are anxious to get your parents in the United States but there are a couple of things you must gather first in order to get them across the pond!
1. Make sure Your Parent has a Valid Passport
If your parents do not have a valid passport, it is time to start the application process to get one! Without a valid passport, your parents will not be able to travel to the United States, so make sure you handle this critical step!
Each country has different passport processing times so calculating this process time for you can be a little difficult. If your parents are from India, without outsourcing to TCS, could land you in 3- to 6-month wait time to get your passport. However, today, it does not take this long since in India you can cut it up to 15 days if you use the outsourcing.
If you are in more of a hurry to get them over: you can get the passport renewed or reissued in as little as 7 days for emergency cases! You would have to pay the extra fees associated with fast-tracking the passport, so keep this in mind as you budget the amount it will take for you to apply for your parents US tourist visa.
Check with your local government passport application process to be sure of deadlines and fees for applying, renewing, or re-issuing a valid passport. For our readers from India, we have more information about the passport application procedures and how to get through it smoothly and easily.
2. Show Me the Money!
The US government wants to know that you have the funds to maintain your parents for the time they will be in the country visiting you. In other words, they need to see a good chunk of money in your bank account in order to accept your application.
That chunk of money is about $10,000 USD so do not wait until the last minute to accumulate it in your savings! It is recommended that you slowly gather it over time instead of getting loans all at once before the application process. It shows you are a steady and responsible consumer and that you know how to plan and prepare your finances better.
Will you get denied if you drop loans of thousands of dollars in your savings before the application? We cannot be sure or give you a definitive answer. Just be aware of how it looks to those reviewing your application and make the decision you believe is best for your success!
The 9 Critical Steps of Applying for a B2 Visitor Visa
First, we will be going over the main documents required for your parents to be ready for their final interview and the stamping of the tourist visa in their passport. You can go through these parts interchangeably and there is no essential order for you to get all this done.
Timing varies for the acquisition of different documents so bear with us as we try to develop the most accurate timeline for you to understand how long the entire process takes. The information on booking the final interview for your parents is in the last step (if you want to skip ahead to the end).
For now, we will start with the supporting documents needed for their visa application and work our way to the final visa stamping.
1. Scan Copies of Your Parent’s Passports
Not surprisingly, this comes first on the list because it is essential to the visa application. In order for your parents to get the visa, they need to show up for an interview verifying all of the information on the online application you will have to submit for them.
You will need to have a scanned copy of your parent’s documents with the important details of their information so that you can put the information in on the online application.
You will also need the information from the pages that show your parent’s photos, passport numbers, personal details, important passport information, etc. Having the scanned copy is the best way to assure everything gets done correctly so that you do not waste time on a void application because of the misinformation you inputted.
Aside from the importance of getting the information in well, your employer might request a copy of your parent’s passport for the employment verification letter that you will need in the next step.
2. Request an Employment Verification Letter From Your Current Employer
This is a part of the application process that we cannot gauge how long will take because it depends on your employers time and availability to get all the required information sent to you. Some employers might be used to this request and can send you something quickly so that you can move on with the process, others might be inexperienced or busy and not know exactly what to do.
Regardless of the situation, it is imperative to have an employment verification letter for the application.
The letter verifies your current H1B visa employment and outlines your salary and job description. As mentioned before, the employer may ask for your parent’s passports in order to give you this letter so be sure to have this ready to hand over to them.
Some employers request the appointment letter of the interview your parents will have to do to get the visa, depending on their rules and procedures for handling this request. We have listed this part of the process at the end of the article.
3. Go to Your Primary Bank for A Bank Verification Letter
We have already been over the amount of money you will need in order to prove you have the funds to bring your parents to the United States. Now, for the logistics of retrieving another bank-related document is the bank verification letter.
You will need to go to your primary bank where you have your longest standing checking and savings account and request a bank verification letter for a visa. If your accounts come from two different banks, then you will need a letter from both banks. Some banks have instant information retrieval for these kinds of things, and others take days or weeks to get so make sure you do this step in advance and check with your bank to see how long it will take beforehand.
There may be a fee for this letter, for instance, Bank of America charges $10 USD for the letter. The application for the letter requires your full name as it shows on your passport and the consulate in which the letter will be addressed to. *Important: check the consulate associated with your parents’ address before you request this letter.
Then, depending on how long it takes your bank, you will receive a letter stating the date the account was opened and the average running balance that has been in the account since it was open. If you want to cross your t’s and dot your i’s, you can ask the bank manager for his contact information so you can present it to the appropriate authorities if any problems occur. This is not necessary, but having too much documentation has never been a bad thing.
4. Get Copies of your W2 Form, Paystubs, I-94, and H1B Approval
Another essential part of your B2 tourist visa application success is getting the copy of your W2 forms from the previous year living in the United States. You will also need:
- Last three pay stubs or salary statements
- Last three bank statements
- Copy of your passport
- Copy of your I-94
- Copy of your H1B visa approval ( I-797)
For your parents’ interview, it is recommended that you mail them a copy of your H1B visa approval to show to appropriate authorities in case any problems arrive. This is a recommendation, although it is not required.
Read More: Get the latest, up-to-date H1B news here.
5. Write and Sign an Invitation Letter for Your Parents to Visit you in the US
We know your parents don’t need an invitation to come to your house, but the government wants to make sure of the reason they are traveling into the country with documentation. The invitation letter you will have to write shows the intent your parents have of coming to the United States.
The invitation letter will be addressed to your parents and state that you are inviting them to visit you in the United States. Aside from the letter legally supporting your parents intent to come to the US, it also demonstrates that you are sponsoring their visa.
6. Make Your Visa Officer Love You With a Cover Letter
There are tons of documents you need to keep track of the B2 tourist visa process. Since you are managing it, it may not be too difficult to know what you are missing and what you have acquired, but it may cause a headache for the visa officer that will have to go over the file.
When you send the forms in for the application, write a cover letter briefly explaining the specific visa process, and a list of the order of all the documents in your folder. This is not required but is done out of courteousness for the visa officer reviewing the application. It will also help your parents keep track of all the documents you have acquired for the successful stamping of the visa.
7. Get an Affidavit of Support I-134 Form (optional)
This form is not required and will not minimize the chances of your parents getting their visa stamped in their passport. If you submit this form in the application, you are legally taking responsibility for all liabilities that your parents may find themselves under.
You attest to the fact that you will support your parents in all matters they encounter themselves in and assure that they are under your complete financial responsibility as their sponsor. You can download this form here, fill it out, and send it to your parents for their application review.
8. Submit All Documents
This part means you are towards the end! Besides the visa stamping appointment, you will need to calculate in within all your document retrieval, you will have to physically submit documents to finish the process.
Make sure to have everything printed out and signed accordingly. Signed documents to submit include the optional I-134 form mentioned in part 7, the invitation letter mentioned in part 5, the cover letter mentioned in part 6, and the DS-160 from the online application which will be mentioned in the next part, part 9.
Send originals copies of all the documents, especially the employment letter and the bank letter, and then be sure to make copies of all the documents listed above to keep for your records.
You can use DHL, UPS, FedEx, or any other mailing service you trust to send everything you need. The cost for mailing these documents depends on who you choose and how fast you want the documents to arrive.
9. Book a Visa Stamping Appointment For Your Parents
In order to get the B1 visa stamping to travel to the US, your parents need to get a visa stamping at a US embassy or consulate. Your parents might be able to do this in India if they have access to the internet and are familiar with the process, but sometimes it is best to just do it yourself so that you fill the application and the forms out correctly. If you fill the form out, there is a section called “Application prepared by” where you will need to put your name down and sign for.
The place your parents end up going to get this visa stamp depends on the state they live in. The options will be listed on the application process and your parents will be directed to the right location depending on their address.
If you are booking the visa stamping appointment, plan for about 2 weeks time of cushion before the day you actually want the appointment. This is because it will take some time to get the correct documents straightened out and sent in on time. When booking the visa appointment, we have some insight on how the process works and what you need. Take a look below.
2 Simple Steps to E-Booking Your Parents’ Visa Stamping Appointment
1. Fill out the DS-160 Form
The first thing you will have to do is fill out the DS-160 form carefully. This can be a frustrating process as you dig up old information required for the appointment of the interview, and because of the interruptions in the session that can consume your time to get it done.
Be patient with the system if you get kicked out. What can help with getting through time-out sessions, is having all the information for the application written out on a notepad. They say it takes about 75 minutes to complete the DS-160 form, but this can be longer depending on your Internet connection, among other factors. Make sure you have a strong connection so that the process doesn’t drag on.
Some important things to remember is to write the application number down on a piece of paper that comes up on the first screen — you will need it to towards the end of the application to complete it.
Lastly, you will need a digital photo with a plain background. To test if your photo pasts the test, there is an option on the website to make sure it is an appropriate one. The information needed is an exhaustive list and can take a lot of time to acquire so have this stuff ready in notepads for easy copying and pasting into your form!
The basic documents you need include for the DS-160 Form:
- Parent’s passports and any US visas issued before
- Address of location to stay at in the United States, including zip code
- Travel information to the US including flight ticket information, arrival dates, and trip lengths
- Contact information for a reference person in the US (full name, phone number, email address, and home address)
- Current work-related information (company name, address, etc.)
Check these links out on how to successfully process a DS-160 form for your parents from the US Travel Document Official Website, and the US State Government Website. Document requirements change depending on the purpose of travel, so check to make sure you have everything set for your parents.
IMPORTANT: Book the appointment in the language your parents are most comfortable speaking
On the application, you will be allowed to choose the language that the interview will be conducted in. If your parents are not comfortable with English, I suggest choosing their preferred local language that they can best express themselves in.
For US embassies in India, you can choose interview languages in Telugu, Tamil, Gujarati, etc. depending on their availability. It is always best to choose the language that your parents can best communicate in so there is no confusion with the visa officer.
After you have done this, and have the HDFC receipt for the interview, you are all set and can now let your parents know the details about the appointment once confirmed!
You are closer to getting their visa granted to visit you in the US!
2. Have Parents Provide Additional Supporting Documents for their Visa Interview
This part is the extra information needed on your parent’s side to get through the visa interview smoothly. At the interview, they will be asked non-threatening questions about your job and life in the United States. They will also want information showing that they are in good economic terms back at home, have strong ties to their home countries, proving that they will not overstay their visa once in the US. Some documents from your parents to support this may include:
- Notarized documents of all their property
- Parents bank statements
- Pension and employment benefit letters
- Fixed deposits, or any financial related documents.
- Tax returns (if any)
- Any other documentation showing strong financial stability
Do not be stressed if your parents do not have all this supporting documentation or proof of ownership of property in their home country. Since you are the one sponsoring your parent’s visa, these things will not be the deciding factor on whether the visa gets approved.
It does help to have, however, so show it if you’ve got it! The questions for the interview will focus on the child’s occupation and life in the United States, so tell your parents to be confident and prepared to talk about everything about you!
There it is folks! All of the steps you need to know about to get your parent’s visa application process submitted successfully.
We know it was a tiring list, but it does include information on absolutely everything you need to know for submitting this kind of application. Completing the process is not too hard as long as you are proactive and organized in attaining the required documents.
In order to review the required documents for submitting for your parents B2 visa, we have written out a checklist wrapping it all up in case you missed anything.
The documents required for final submittal include
- Copy of your passport and visa, along with an I-94
- Copy of your H1B approval (Form I-797)
- Employment letter from your company
- Bank Account Verification letter
- Copy of your last three bank statements
- Copy of your last three salary statements
- Copy of your last year’s tax returns – W2forms.
- DS-160 form, if you filled it out
- Form I-134, if you filled it out
Online, there are templates you can find for the documents that are not as concrete in regards to what they should contain and how they should be structured. For the cover letter, employment letter, an invitation letter, as long as you have the appropriate information addressed to the appropriate people as well as the correct signatures and titles of those who are signing the different letters, you should be fine.
You also might want to check with your employer for a template they use, as they’ve probably been through the process if there are other H1B employees working at your location.
After your parents get their B2 tourist visa you might want to think about buying travel health insurance, and arranging the appropriate transportation and assistance they need to get to your home!
We hope this article has been informative enough to get you through the entire process and that you can finally have your parents and loved ones near you in your new home in America!
If anything is missing in this guide, or you believe there are some things worth mentioning, please let us know in the comments section below! We want to know about your parent’s visa experience so please comment below if you have anything to add about how it went for you.
If you need more information, we are also happy to assist in whatever ways possible so let us know your concerns and questions as well so we can provide you with adequate and helpful information for your immigration needs.