Inviting Family & Friends to the US
If your family/friends wish to visit you in the U.S., they may need to apply for a visitor visa, unless their country of citizenship is listed as a Visa Waiver Program (VWP) participant. In preparation for their visa application and interview, your family/friends will need to prove WHY they are coming to the U.S., WHAT they will be doing here, WHERE they are going in the U.S., WHEN they will be in the U.S. and WHEN they will return to their home country and, lastly, HOW they will support themselves while they are in the U.S.
If your family/friends need a visitor visa, they need to thoroughly read the instructions for visitor visa applications. These instructions can be found on the website of the U.S. embassy/consulate where they will apply for the visa. The consulate website should list what documents the applicants must prepare and present in their application. This is a personal application in which applicants must demonstrate their eligibility through a visa interview.
The following information provides additional tips for visitor visa applications. If your family/friends are from a VWP participating country, this information is still applicable to them as they may be questioned at the port of entry.
Your family/friends may bring a letter from you explaining who you are and what you are doing in the U.S. and that you want to invite them to visit for your graduation (and/or vacation, tour, etc.). Your letter should list the dates and locations that your family/friends will visit in the U.S. You should be as specific as possible. Include your name, date of birth, SEVIS ID# (if applicable) and address in the U.S. If your family will stay with you, mention this in your letter or include the name and address of the hotel where they will stay.
WHY are your family/friends coming to the U.S. and WHAT will they be doing?
If coming to your graduation they should show proof of this. For example: A copy of your I-20, your full-time enrollment verification and/or a letter from your academic advisor confirming that you are completing your degree this spring/fall, copies of commencement ceremony tickets or invitations, etc. In addition, the UConn Commencement & Convocation webpage provides information on upcoming convocation ceremonies. Your family/friends may present a print-out from this website to prove that there are graduation ceremonies being held during the time that they will be visiting UConn. If they are coming for a conference or special event, they should bring proof of this instead (or as well).
WHERE are they visiting in the U.S.?
This could be hotel reservations in CT, printed out information from places they plan to visit, and/or reservation confirmations from any special tours or events they will visit.
WHEN will they arrive in the U.S. and WHEN will they return to their home country?
The best way to prove this is with plane tickets that they have or are planning to purchase or a flight itinerary to prove they will not stay in the U.S. forever. Remember that plane tickets should not be purchased until the visa is granted. If your family/friends have a job, they should bring a letter from their employer verifying employment and that they will take a vacation and will return to work on XXXXX date. If your family/friends are in school, they could bring documents from the school to show they will return to their home country to resume enrollment and continue their classes.
HOW will they support themselves while they are in the U.S.?
A bank statement from your family/friends should be available to show that they have the funds to travel in the U.S., or letters from their employers to show that they are working and earning a salary.