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Uniting Families Through Immigration

The Visitor Visa Application explained by a Visa Attorney

If you have a friend or loved one living outside of the United States, you may be able to help them apply for a visitor visa to enter the United States by preparing a letter of invitation. An experienced visa attorney can help you prepare a letter of invitation and help your friend or loved through the visitor visa application process.

Visitor visas are usually granted for a period of ten years. The visa can be used for multiple trips into the United States for visitation purposes. Each trip is usually only valid for a period of six months or less.

Citizens of several countries are exempt from having to file for a visitor visa in order to visit the United States. This is called the Visa Waiver Program. Citizens of these countries are allowed to enter the United States for a short visitation without obtaining a formal visitor visa. Travelers do have to fill out a biographic and security questionnaire in the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) before being allowed entry to the United States. Visitations to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program are only valid for up to 90 days at one time.

You must be a citizen or national of the following countries to be eligible to travel to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program: Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brunei, Chile, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, and the United Kingdom. Citizens of countries who qualify under the Visa Waiver Program can still apply for a visitor visa if they would like to be able to visit the United States for more than 90 says at one time.

With regard to a visitor visa application, an applicant must first fill out an online questionnaire called a DS-160 Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application Form. This application asks biographic, travel and security questions. Once a DS-160 has been completed and the appropriate application fee paid, the applicant will be scheduled for an interview with a US immigration official at the closest US embassy or consulate to the applicant’s home. At the interview, the officer will review the DS-160 with the applicant and ask questions about the purpose of the visit to the United States and about the applicant’s connections to his or her country of citizenship. In this interview, the US immigration official is trying to determine if the applicant will honor the terms of the visitor visa or if the applicant will enter the United States and fail to leave when his or her authorized stay has expired.

Obtaining a letter of invitation from a US citizen friend or relative can be helpful to the applicant at the visitor visa interview. This letter explains the purpose of the trip, where the applicant will be staying, and who will be financially responsible for the applicant. The letter can also include proof of the applicant’s ties or connections to his home and reasons why he will return to his home country once his visitation in the United States is over. Presenting a letter of invitation and supporting documents to the US immigration official at visa interview can be very helpful in persuading the official to grant the visitor visa request.

The visa attorneys at Vanderwall Immigration have prepared many letters of invitation and DS-160 online applications for visa interviews. If you would like to learn more about how you can help your loved one visit you in the United States, call the visa attorneys at Vanderwall Immigration at 503-206-8414 to schedule your consultation.