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We hear this question quite a bit, for all sorts of situations and all sorts of relatives. In all cases, the appropriate visa for a short-term family visit will be either the B-1/B-2 Visitor Visa or, if the relative is from an applicable home country, the Visa Waiver program. You may wish to follow the links to our FAQ pages for these visa types before going any further. The situation we hear about most often is where an adult child here in the U.S. as a non-immigrant or permanent resident will want a parent to come here to help after the birth of a baby. While this sounds like a straightforward and sympathetic situation, it can be among the most difficult. Officers at U.S. embassies and consulates controlling visa stamp issuance and U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers controlling entry tend to be suspicious of applications by parents of foreign nationals already in the U.S. – especially if the parent is older and retired or otherwise unemployed. U.S. immigration officials are aware that in many cultures it is expected that elderly parents will come to live with their adult children, and so they are extremely suspicious of an overseas parent’s true intent to return home at the end of the visit. Ties to the home country must be extremely well-documented for such an application to be successful (and the parent/applicant must be ready to explain the situation, as officers will often refuse to even look at documents). Factors in favor of the parent would include evidence that that the parent has a job to return to if applicable, evidence that there are many other family members (perhaps including a spouse) still residing abroad to return to, evidence that they possess real estate and bank accounts or other property abroad, etc. Similarly, the temporary nature of the trip and the need for the parent’s assistance in the U.S. for this brief period should also be well-documented. Other especially difficult situations include young adult siblings of non-immigrant or permanent resident foreign nationals. U.S. embassies, consulates and interviewing BCE officers are also concerned that young (often 18-30-year-old) relatives often come to the U.S. ostensibly to visit family, but really are seeking to remain past the normal time for a visit and to accept employment – either to build a career in the U.S. or to earn and save money with which to build a life in the home country. The same extensive level of intent documentation should be assembled before applying at the embassy or consulate for a visitor visa or at entry when applying for Visa Waiver admission. We often assist in the assembly of documentation for such applications – you may wish to contact us for help.

While the most common way is with letters from those involved (inviting child in the U.S., overseas employer, overseas bank) or with documentary materials (deed for real estate owned abroad, bank statements for accounts held abroad, etc.), there is some room for creativity here. We have used family photos taken in front of a landmark in the home country to show family members resident abroad. We have also used wedding invitations along with written RSVPs from the intending visitor for events to occur in the home country right after the planned date of return. There are few limits on what you are permitted to submit as evidence, the real question is whether the evidence proves ties to the home country and lack of intent to remain in the U.S. past the length of this visit.