One of the most frequently asked questions among friends, either during graduation time, after they start working in the US, or if they are expecting a baby, is “What is the process to apply for a visitor or tourist visa(B2 visa) to parents to come to the USA? What documents do I need? How do I start ?”
The below article covers the step-by-step process to apply for a B2 visitor visa for parents or family members, including sample documents and templates.
Basic Requirements: Passports, Funds for US Trip, Documents
The two most important things you need to plan before applying for a visa are passports for your parents and the funds required for their travel to the US.
Getting Parents’ Passports
- The first step before you plan the B2 Visa is to apply for a passport for your parents if they do not have one.
- Depending on the country, the time to get a passport can vary. Consider the time to get the passport when you plan the overall time to get a B2 Visitor visa for them.
- For example, if you are from India, in the past, it used to take 3 to 6 months; now, with outsourcing to companies like TCS, you can get a new passport in a little under 15 days. Also, there are new schemes of Tatkaal. If it is an emergency, you can get your passport as soon as seven days, but you have to pay an extra fee.
- Check out the passport application website for details. You may read our article on applying for How to do passport renewal in India to get an idea of the process.
Bank Savings for Sponsorship
- If you are paying for your parents’ trip, you need to have enough funds secured for the same.
- There is no official guidance on how much money you need to have in the bank account from the US Department of State. They say the applicants must have enough funds to pay for the trip.
- You can do a ballpark estimate of the expenses that your parents might incur based on flight tickets, local travel, etc., and come up with a number that you can have in your bank account.
- As a rule of thumb, a good amount totaling up to $10,000 dollars or more to cover their expenses would be ideal to have in the bank account.
- It is advised to start saving for the same three months before and accumulate steadily rather than just borrowing money and putting it in the bank. Again, there is no hard-and-fast rule, just some general guidance.
Also, it is important to secure all the relevant documents about your status in the US as they would be important for the process. Let’s look at them below.
Employment Letter from your Company or Graduation Letter
When you invite your parents or family, one of the things that a US Consular officer would look at is your current US Visa status and supporting documentation for the same. You may need to get a different set of documentation based on your status as an employee working in the US or a student studying in the US. Below are the details
Working in the US on a Visa (H1B, L1, OPT) – Employment Letter
If you are working on a work visa, you need to get an employment letter from your current company verifying that you are working in the US on H1B, L1, or other visa, including OPT or STEM OPT. This is to make sure you are in good standing in the US and are getting paid to support the travel of your parents.
Depending on the company, your company may ask for details of your parents or their passport copies and directly address the employment verification letter to the consulate. There is no rule or format given by the US Consulate. You are free to use what your company gives. Check the sample templates section at the end of the article, if you want a sample. All they care is if you are employed and in good standing.
The employment verification Letter should have information like when you joined them, what role you are working in, and how much salary you make. Some employers are quick, some are slow in doing this. Plan well and make sure you have it with you.
F1 Student – Graduation Invitation
If you are an F1 international Student inviting your parents for Graduation, you need to send your current status details like your F1 Visa copy, I-94 copy, I-20, and Graduation invitation letter to your parents.
Step by Step Process for Parents US Visitor Visa (B2)
Below are the various steps that you can follow to apply for a visitor visa for parents. Some of these can be done in parallel, but below is a general step-by-step guide.
Step 1: Complete DS-160, Book US Visa Appointment
Before you book the US Visa stamping appointment for your parents, you need to fill in the DS-160 form. Make sure you have scan copies of their passports before you start the process to avoid issues. Sometimes, your employer may also ask for the same for documentation.
Complete DS-160 Form Online for Parents
Unless your parents are well educated and have all the facilities such as a computer with internet access, etc., they may not be able to do DS-160 on their own. It would be better if you fill it out for them and then declare the same at the end. It saves a lot of pain for your parents to fill it out without any mistakes.
- Separate DS-160 Forms: You must create separate DS-160 application profiles for every visitor visa applicant. If you invite both your mother and father, you must create two DS-160 Profiles online separately for your parents.
- Creating Family Member DS-160 from the Thank you page: When you are filling out the first DS-160 form for the first family member, at the end, when you select ‘Email Confirmation’ on the confirmation page, you will go to “Thank you” page and on that page you will have the option to create a family or group application, you can choose this option so that some of the information from your first application will be copied over and imported. Of course, you can change those details as needed.
- Required info to Fill DS-160 form: You will need a lot of information like education details, work history, identification info, etc. We have compiled the entire list of required items for DS-160 and tips to fill the same. Read How to fill out DS-160 Form, Documents Needed to get full idea.
- Filling up the DS-160, Declaration: If you are filling out forms on behalf of your parents, at the end of the completion of DS-160 form, there is a section that reads ‘Sign and Submit page’, you should fill out your details as a third party and then inform your parents regarding the endorsement of the application by them and help them click on sign and submit button. You may check more info and discussion on sign and submit option.
- Fill out DS-160 online at the Official State.gov website: You should go to the Official US Govt State.gov website for DS-160 form Creation. Here is the link: US Govt ceac.state.gov Website
- If you have any questions, you can visit any of the below links to fill the DS-160 form.
Once you complete the DS-160 form, next step is to pay the fee and book visa interview appointment.
Booking US Visa Interview Appointment, Native Language
You need to book a visa appointment at a US embassy/ consulate to get B2 Visa stamping to travel to the US. It involves paying fees, selecting a location, and interview language. Let’s look in detail.
- US Consulate Location for Interview: Depending on your home country, there may be one or more locations in your country. You need to choose the US Consulate that is close to where your parents live. For instance, in India, each consulate has a list of states that they serve. Depending on your state, you need to select the respective Consulate.
- Parents US Visa Interview Language – Mother tongue vs English: If your parents are not comfortable with English, you should choose their preferred mother tongue or native language. Most of the US embassies around the world give you the option to choose the local language.
- India Consulates – No Option to Choose Language in System: Starting from 2023 with the new system in place, in India, you do not have the option to choose the interview language such as your mother tongue like Telugu, Tamil, Gujarati, etc. You will only get the option of English. If you feel your parents are not fluent in English, then you can ask them to request for a local translator at the US Consulate/ Embassy on the day of the interview. For India, depending on the consulate, some languages may not be available. So, it is important to attend the interview at a location that is relevant for your state. You can check US Consulates Contact Info, Served States for more info. You can email the consulate/ embassy beforehand to be sure as well.
- Scheduling US Visa Interview: The US Visa interview appointment booking is handled by www.ustraveldocs.com website in most countries. Depending on your country, click on the country and choose the relevant website, where you will get the actual website that is used for booking the appointment. For instance, to book an appointment in India, it would be USVisaScheduling.com.
- You need to create an account and follow the process in there. You will be asked to pay the fee online for booking an appointment.
- If you cannot pay online, you can go to bank, pay it there and get code to use the same for booking appointment.
- You do not need two accounts, you can add your parents together as family in the same account and book visa interview appointment.
- If you are booking appointment in India, you can read How to Create Account on USVisaScheduling.com
You can read the complete guide apply for a US Visa Appointment for step-by-step process.
Step 2: Prepare for US Visitor Visa(B2) Interview, Documents
You will need to prepare and carry all relevant documents for the US Visitor visa interview for your parents. You will need to send them invite letters, sponsorship letters and other info. Let’s look at each of them.
Funds Proof – Bank Account Balance Letter, Sample
If you are sponsoring your parents or in-laws trip, you need to send the relevant proof to show that there are enough funds in your bank. While you can print out the Bank statements online, it is recommend that you go to your Bank and get a Bank verification or Bank Balance Statement Letter signed and stamped by the Bank officer.
Go to the primary bank, where you have your longest standing account and the bank which has your savings and ask them to give you a Bank Verification letter for Visa. Depending on the bank, the process can vary. Typically, Chase does it instantly. For Bank of America or others they make take couple weeks or more. Do this in advance. All they do is, give a letter saying when the bank account was opened and average running balance since opening. It is just a simple letter. If possible, get the visiting card of the bank manager( not necessary, more documentation the better). Check out Sample Bank Verification Letter for Parents Visa
Invitation Letter, Visa Officer Cover Letter, Other Documents
Below are other set of documents that you will need to have ready for the visa interview, so that your parents or in-laws can show the same.
- Invitation Letter : You need to send an invitation letter to your parents saying that you are inviting them to visit you and sign it. It legally supports your parents intent to come to US and you are inviting them to visit. Download sample template copies below.
- Visa officer Cover letter: It is recommended to send a cover letter with all the documentation addressing the visa officer. It just lets you keep in track of what you are sending and if visa officer needs to check, it is easier for him and more clear for our parents. See templates section below.
- Copies of W2 Form, Pay stubs, etc : You will need copies of W2 Forms for all the years, last three pay stubs or salary statements, Last three bank statements, Copy of your passport, I-94, H1B visa approval ( I797). This is extra piece of documentation to be given to your parents to avoid any issues. This is like an optional, I strongly suggest that you carry these documents.
- F1 Student – Status Documents If you are a student on F1 visa and not working, you may not have pay stubs, so do not worry about it. Send whatever you have regarding your current status like I20, etc.
- ( Optional ) Affidavit of Support I-134 Form: This is an optional form, which is typically filed with family based green card applications by sponsors. This is to establish that the applicant will not become public charges while in the United States. If you submit this form, you are legally signing that you take all the liability and they will not become a public charge. You may fill, sign and send the affidavit of support to your parents. It has some basic info. Nothing fancy and tricky out there. All you are telling in this document is that you are going to support their entire trip. You can Download the I-134 Form, Affidavit of Support from USCIS website
- Sending Documents to Home Country : Ideally, you want to print out everything and sign all the documents where you filled forms I-134 (optional), invitation letter and cover letter. Make copies of all the documents as listed above. Send originals of Employment letter and Bank letter. You can use DHL or FedEx. It may cost you up to $60 USD.
Below is checklist of B2 visitor visa stamping for parents
Parents US Visitor Visa(B2) Documents Checklist
Below are the documents that Parents need to carry from their side
- DS-160 Form Confirmation letter
- Appointment Confirmation Letter
Below are the documents parents need to carry related to their sponsor(son or daughter) in the US or if they would be staying with them.
- Copy of work visa approval notice ( H1B, L1 – Form I-797).
- Copy of Passport, US Visa stamped on passport.
- Copy of I-94. ( Check How to get I-94 Online )
- Current Employment verification letter
- Copy of Bank statements from last 6 months.
- Bank Account verification/ balance letter.
- Copies of last three salary statements/ pay slips.
- Copies of previous years Tax Returns –W2 forms ( if applicable).
- DS forms (if you have filled it and signed the same)
- Copy of Green Card ( if you are not working on visa )
- Form I-134 ( Optional )
US Visitor Visa(B2) Documents Checklist for in-laws
If you are sponsoring for your in-laws like mother-in-law or father-in-law, in addition to above checklist of documents, you need to include spouse’s details and documents as well along with the package.
- Your Spouse’s Passport
- Spouse’s approval notice I797
- Spouse’s US Visa Copy
- Any other supporting documents like marriage certificate to prove the relationship.
- Spouse Birth Certificate
Thanks to Rajesh for suggesting the above after his bad experience of missing the documents of in-laws.
Additional Supporting documents by Parents for Visa Interview
Fundamentally, your parents have to prove that they have enough ties in their home country, so that they would return after their trip. Some of the ways that can be done is by good supporting documentation. The below list of documents are intended to prove that they will return to home country:
- Notarized documents of land/ sites, buildings ( any kind of property).
- Bank Statements with enough balance
- Pension / employment benefits letters, if applicable.
- Fixed deposits, any financial related documents.
- If there are Tax returns, then carry them as well
- Any other documents that shows your financially strong and you will come back.
If you do not have all documents or big property back home, it is OK. No big deal. Because, you are the one in the US, who is sponsoring the visitor visa for your parents. So, do not worry. Also, if your parents are older, then they are fine.
You may join our Telegram B2 Visa Community Group to ask questions or share your experiences.
Sample Document Templates for Parents US Visitor Visa
Below are some of the templates that you can use. Make sure you change the content to fit it for your situation.
- Parents US Visitor Visa Invite Letter Template: You need to send an invitation letter to your parents saying that you are inviting them and also specify, if you plan to pay for their expenses when in US. We have given a sample letter, but I recommend you edit it with your own flavour and make it unique : Invitation Letter Templates for Visitor (B-2) / Parents Visa
- Employment letter Sample Letter Template for US Parents Visa : You should also send an employment letter that tells that you are employed in your company with your designation and salary. It can be any standard employment letter. You may use : Employment letter Template for Parents Visa USA
- Cover Letter for Visa Officer at US Consulate: It is a good idea to put in a cover letter to the visa officer listing all the documents you are sending. You may use : Cover Letter for Visa officer – Parents visa USA
These are just standard templates that you can use, no hard fast rule that it has to be in this format. We highly encourage you to use them as guideline only and create your own letters with your own flavour, so that it looks unique.
Step 3: Attend Biometrics & US Visitor Visa Interview Appointments
Once you have all the documents ready, next step is to attend the Biometrics appointment give biometrics on that required day. After the biometrics are taken, then parents need to carry all the documents as listed in the above checklist and attend the visa interview on the respective date and time.
Having all the documents is important, but the most important thing is to give your parents confidence and all the details related to you and what you do in the US so that they can answer the questions. You need to coach your parents to do well in the interview.
You can expect to see questions like the below for your parents in the visa interview
- Who lives in the US? Son or Daughter?
- What does your Son or Daughter do in the US?
- Did they study in the US?
- Where did they study?
- What does your son or daughter do for work?
- Which city do they live in?
- Do you plan to settle down there or come back?
- What is the purpose of your visit?
- When do you plan to go?
- When do you plan to return to India?
- What is your son or daughter’s salary?
- How long have your son or daughter lived in the US?
- Do you currently work, or are you retired?
- Do you get a pension? Have you paid taxes?
You can check out previous US Visitor Visa experiences at below links
- Collection of Latest 2023 B1/B2 Visitor Visa Stamping Experiences
- Parents US Visa Stamping Experience -Telugu
- English Stamping Experience US Parents Visa.
Step 4: B2 Visa Approval, Passport with Visa
If the B2 visa interview went well, your parents would be informed that their visa was approved and their passports would be collected. If the passports are collected then they can expect the actual B2 Visitor Visa to be glued in their passport and delivered to their given address within few days. If your parents chose to pick up passport, they would be able to collect the same with the visa stamped in it. The approved B1/B2 or B2 Visitor Visa glued in the passport would look in the below screenshot.
If the visa were not approved, the consular officer would inform your parents and give them a piece of paper indicating the reason for Visa denial. One of the common reasons for visa denial for B2 visitor visa is 214(b). If your parents are unlucky, they can again reapply. You can read more on it at State.gov US Visa Denials reasons.
Hopefully, your parents get their US Visa in the interview. One last thing before they go to the US is to look at health insurance for their US Travel.
Health Insurance for Parents: After you get US Visa and plan to arrive in US, having visitors health insurance is important for parents to avoid any unforeseen health conditions, when in USA. It is always a good idea to get Health Insurance from a US vendor, who can support you. We recommend Buying Parents Insurance at Visitors Coverage – Parents Insurance as they have US support and you can compare all insurance plans.
Yes, US Consulates in India have started interviewing for B1/B2 visitor visas starting from September 2022 and they continue to interview as of 2023. They are doing both in-person interviews as well as dropbox appointments for parents B2 visitor visas.
All the appointments that are available on USVisaScheduling.com for 2023, 2024 and beyond are all real appointments. They are not placeholder appointments like in the past.
That’s it folks…not so much complex, all you need to do is get all the list of documents and have things rolling as per plan and schedule.
Do you have any other ideas or documents that are important ? Do share your experience and thoughts.