If you are a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, and you’re planning a family trip or want to bring your parents over from abroad for a visit, the first step is to help them apply for a B2 tourist visa.
In this guide, we’ll cover how to guide your parents through the travel visa application, help them prepare for the visa interview, and more.
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Submitting the Travel Visa Application
Determine Visa Eligibility
In order to help your parents apply, they must meet the eligibility requirements for a U.S. tourist visa, also known as a B-2 visa. Your parents must be able to demonstrate that they have strong ties to their home country and intend to return after their visit to the U.S. For more details on how to prove strong ties to home, check out Boundless’ guide.
Many people wonder if they can apply for the travel visa for their parents. It’s important to note that it is not possible to “sponsor” a family member for a temporary tourist visa or apply for the visa on their behalf. If you’re interested in helping your parents immigrate to the U.S., you would need to go through a separate process and sponsor them for an IR-5 parent visa.
Complete the Travel Visa Application
Once you’re ready to move forward with the travel visa process, you’ll need to help your parents complete the online travel visa application, Form DS-160. This form collects biographical information, travel plans, and other details about the travel visa applicant. Each applicant must fill out a separate DS-160, meaning both parents will need to file their own forms in instances where both parents intend on traveling to the U.S.
You can learn more about the DS-160 process and how to complete the form at Boundless’ detailed guide.
Pay the Visa Application Fee
The visa application fee for a B-2 visa is $160, and it is non-refundable. Payment options vary depending on which country your parents are applying from, but most U.S. Embassies and consulates accept online payment via credit card or electronic transfer. Your parents will need to print the receipt as proof of payment.
B2 Visa Interview Process
Schedule the Visa Interview
After filing the DS-160 forms, your parents must schedule visa appointments at the U.S. Embassy or consulate in their home country. It’s possible to schedule online or by phone, depending on the location. Applicants will need to provide their passport number, DS-160 confirmation number, and payment receipt to schedule the appointment.
Gather Supporting Documents
Once the appointments are scheduled, you can help your parents gather the required supporting documents. They’ll need to bring several documents to the visa interview, including:
- Passport: The passport must be valid for at least six months beyond the intended stay in the U.S. and have at least one blank page.
- Photograph: Your parents will need to bring a recent, color photograph of themselves that meets the U.S. visa requirements.
- Evidence of strong ties to their home country: As mentioned above, strong ties can include proof of employment, property ownership, financial assets, or family connections.
- Travel itinerary: Your parents should bring a copy of their travel itinerary, including flight details and hotel reservations.
- Invitation letter: You may choose to write an optional letter inviting your parents to visit you in the U.S. The letter should include your contact information, the purpose of their visit, and the duration of their stay.
Attend the Visa Interview
Your parents will need to appear in person at the U.S. Embassy or consulate for the visa interview. The interview usually lasts about 15 minutes, during which a consular officer will ask questions about your parents’ travel plans, their ties to their home country, and other relevant topics. Your parents should answer truthfully and provide any requested documents noted above.
The visa interview can be a stressful process, but you can help your parents prepare with confidence by following the tips in Boundless’ travel visa interview guide. We also provide a list of sample interview questions you can practice with your parents, so they know what kinds of questions to expect.
Receive a Decision
After the interview, your parents will receive a decision from the consular officer and if approved, they’ll need to wait for their tourist visa to be processed. The length of time can vary depending on the embassy or consulate, but it usually takes a few days to several weeks. Your parents should not make any travel arrangements until they receive their official B2 visa.
Prepare for Travel
After the visitor visa is approved, you can start planning your parents’ travels to the U.S.! You should make sure that your parents are prepared for the trip by gathering any necessary documents (such as travel insurance) and making the necessary travel arrangements. If it’s your parents’ first time flying into the U.S., you may want to help familiarize them with U.S. airport requirements and how to navigate U.S. customs before their flight.
How to Apply for a B-1/B-2 Visa
Switching Status From a Travel Visa to a Green Card
Renewing a B-1/B-2 Travel Visa
B-1/B-2 Visa Sample Interview Questions
How to Prepare for Your Travel Visa Interview
Letter of Invitation for a Travel Visa
Required Documents for Travel Visas