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Inviting Family and Friends to the US

While you are at Tufts as an international student or scholar, you may wish to invite your extended family members, relatives, or friends to visit you. Reasons for the visit can be general or for special events such as commencement (graduation). In these situations, the following options may be available depending on each individual's situation

Visa Waiver Program ('ESTA') and Citizens of Canada

Citizens of certain countries may come to the US under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), which allows "visa-free" travel to the US for visits of up to 90 days. Travel to the US under this program grants the visitor non-extendable stays of up to 90 days as Visa Waiver - Tourist (WT status) or Visa Waiver - Business (WB status). Prior to traveling to the US, the visitor must obtain travel clearance under the Electronic System for Travel Authorization, or ESTA. Please refer to the links for more information about travel to the US under the Visa Waiver Program with ESTA clearance.

Similarly, citizens of Canada are permitted to enter the US without visas. Canadian citizens coming to the US for personal or family-related travel can request permission to enter the US at a US / Canadian border crossing or port of entry, and are typically granted B-1 / B-2 visitor status for up to six months at a time.

B-1 / B-2 Visitors Visa

If your friends of family members are not eligible for visa-free travel to the US, they will need to apply for a B-1/B-2 visitors visa at a US consulate in their country of residence. It is recommended that the visa applicant read the instructions provided by the local US consulate, since visa application procedures and fee payment methods may vary from location to location. However, in most cases the application will require:

Other Recommended Evidence. The B-1/B-2 visitors visa is for temporary business, personal (including medical) travel to the US. Visa applicants may undergo a very brief visa interview with a US consular officer, during which they may be asked to demonstrate that the visit to the US will be temporary and that the visitor has ties to their home country that they do not intend to abandon. Proof of ties can include the following as examples:

  • a letter from a home country employer confirming that the visitor has a job that they will return to by a certain date
  • evidence of other family members in their home country to which they have continued connections or obligations
  • evidence of property or business ownership or similar commitments in the home country
  • a travel reservation or itinerary that demonstrates the visit will be for a specific period, with a commitment to depart the US by a certain date

The visa applicant may also carry a bank statement or letter showing that they have sufficient funds to cover the costs of their stay while in the US, or an explanation or other evidence regarding how food, shelter and other costs will be covered during the trip.

Invitation letters to support general visits and/or specific occasions such as graduation are NOT required for the B-1/B-2 application, and visa applicants should be aware that the US State Department has stated in the past that visa officers do not read or consider invitation letters in the visa interview or visa review process. However, you may still wish to provide a personal letter of invitation to your family members or friends using this sample invitation letter template. In addition to your personal invitation letter, you may provide additional information such as a copy of your Form I-20 / Form DS-2019, a school enrollment verification letter or transcript, or other evidence of your continued status at Tufts University. Note: because the State Department views the visitor's visa as supporting personal travel, invitation letters should come from the individual student or scholar personally connected to the visitor. For this reason, Tufts no longer provides University invitation letters for personal visa applications.

Other Sources of Information