I want to invite my family to come to the US for my graduation. What do I need to do?
by Jason Marquart, Team Leader
ANSWER: With graduation and summer break approaching quickly, now is the time to make preparations for visits from parents and family. As you begin preparing to invite your parents, here are a few things to keep in mind:
- The visa of choice for most parents and family who are visiting the US as tourists is the B-1/B-2. The B-1/B-2 visa will allow parents and family to visit the US for up to six months. The application process, including the wait time for the appointment, may take 30 days or more, so visitors should plan ahead.
- Parents and family applying for a B-1/B-2 will need to schedule an appointment at a US consulate overseas. For a complete list of consulates, visit: http://www.usembassy.gov/. They will need to complete the DS-160 application online ( https://ceac.state.gov/genniv/). In addition, visitors will need to review the website of the consulate they plan to visit for details regarding photos and other required documentation.
- When applying for the B-1/B-2, parents and family will be expected to demonstrate that the visit to the US is temporary and that they plan to return home after the visit. In other words, the applicants must prove that they do not intend to immigrate to the United States. Documentation that demonstrates ties to the home country, such as proof of employment or property ownership, may help in this regard. It is not necessary for the applicant to have purchased a return ticket, but the visitor should be able to explain when they plan to visit the US and when they plan to leave.
- Applicants will also be expected to prove that they have the financial resources to cover the cost of the trip. While there is no set amount that is required, in general, the more money, the better. The consulate may think twice about issuing a visa if they believe the trip will prove to be a financial hardship for the applicant.
- It is recommended that you provide your family with photocopies of your Passport, Visa Stamp, I-20, and I-94 to submit along with their visa application.
Visa Waiver Program (VWP)
There is an exception to the B-1/B-2 visa for visitors from certain countries that have special agreements with the United States. Visitors from 36 countries around the world may be eligible to travel to the US without obtaining a visa. The Visa Waiver Program (VWP) allows for travel to the US for business or tourism for up to 90 days. Advanced registration for entry is required. For more details and a list of eligible countries, go to: https://travel.state.gov/content/visas/en/visit/visa-waiver-program.html
Health Insurance for Visitors
Health insurance is important when visiting the United States. The cost of health care in the United States is extremely expensive and even minor injuries or illnesses can result in large medical bills. Health insurance should be purchased for all visitors to cover the duration of stay.
Please note that the Office for International Students and Scholars will host a graduation reception on May 19th for students and families that participate in the Spring commencement. An invitation will go out to all families of graduating students.
For More Information
If you have questions or concerns regarding inviting your parents and family to the United States, please do not hesitate to consult an International Student Advisor during walk-in hours (Monday-Thursday, 1:30-3:30) or contact us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or 314-935-5910.
Send us your questions! “Ask an OISS Advisor” is a regular feature in the International Voice where OISS advisors answer questions that have been submitted by International Students and Scholars from Washington University. This means that we need your help! If you have a question that you would like to have answered in this column, please send it to us. It might be a question for which you don’t know the answer or it may be a particular issue that you have noticed causes confusion for many other international students. If you’re not sure if it’s a good question for this feature, go ahead and send it in, and we will decide. Please send your questions to the editor of the International Voice at: email@example.com . Indicate if you prefer for your question to be anonymous.
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