Visitor Visa for Family Guests

Many international students have family members who consider visiting the United States (for example, to attend your commencement) and, to do so, many will need to apply for visitor visas to enter the United States.

The U.S. Department of State’s visitor visa page can be a very helpful resource for family members planning to pursue a U.S. visa to visit you.

Consular officials from the U.S. Department of State have stated that B-2 tourist/visitor visa applicants do not need an invitation letter from the school in order to process a visa application and that the letters are not helpful. Invitation letters are not a documentation requirement in order for visitors to apply for a tourist visa.

For a list of required documentation your family members should take with them to their visa interview, please refer to the specific U.S. Embassy website that your family will be going to for their interview:

If you would still like to provide an invitation letter to your visitor(s) to present with their visa application, we suggest that you, yourself write a letter for the visitor(s) (see a suggested format below). This letter should be sent to the person who will be applying for the visa, and that person should present it to the U.S. consulate along with the application for the tourist (B-2) visa.

Suggested Documentation

The following suggestions are meant as ADVICE only. We cannot guarantee how U.S. consulates will approach each individual situation.

The applicant should also present as much documentation as possible to establish that she/he will depart the U.S. prior to the expiration of her/his authorized stay in the United States.

To support the application for a B-2 visa, we suggest that you send the following to the applicant:

  • A letter from you to your invitee, in English, inviting him/her for a visit (see a suggested format below).
  • Evidence of your valid student status.
  • Copies of your transcript and/or current enrollment.
  • A photocopy of your I-20, passport, visa and I-94.
  • Evidence of your ability to financially support your visitor during their stay (for example, your bank statement). This evidence is needed only if your visitor does not have the funds to support himself or herself during the visit to the U.S.

Suggested Invitation Letter Format


United States Consul General
(Address of Foreign Consulate Where Person Will Apply for the Visa – check online)

Dear U.S. Embassy Official:

My name is (Last Name), (First Name) and I reside at (Your U.S. Address). I am a student at Bates College, majoring in (Major). I am requesting that a tourist (B-2) visa be issued to (Person you want to invite), in order to allow (her/him) to visit me in the United States. (She/He) is my (Explain your relationship to the person) and will be visiting me from (arrival date) to (departure date). (Explain why you want the person to visit).

Your kind consideration of this request will be greatly appreciated.