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Inviting a Relative or Friend to Visit

As an ESF student maintaining F-1 or J-1 immigration status in the United States, you may want to invite relatives or friends to visit you. If the person you are inviting does not qualify for the visa waiver program and is not a dependent (legal spouse or child) eligible for F-2 or J-2 status, s/he will need to request a visitor's tourist visa (B-2) from a United States Consulate or Embassy. Simply requesting a B-2 visa does not guarantee that the Consulate or Embassy will grant the visa to the applicant; appropriate visa status is required for entry to the U.S.

Because relatives (other than your dependent spouse and minor children) and friends are not eligible for F-2 or J-2 status, you nor the Office of international Education has an official role in their visit to the United States.  Although there are no specific procedures for inviting relatives and friends, the following information and guidelines may be helpful to you.

  • Write a formal letter to the United States Consular Officer in the city where your friend(s)/relative(s) will apply for their visas but mail the letter directly to your friends/relatives to bring to the visa interview appointment.  Please review the sample letter template and include the information noted below.
    • Your name, visa status, and ESF program information (e.g., program of study, degree level, and anticipated graduation date).
    • The reason for your invitation.
    • When you are inviting your friend(s)/relative(s) to visit.
    • The name(s) of the individual(s) you are inviting.
    • Your relationship to the individual(s) you are inviting.
    • The residential address of each person you are inviting.
    • Where your guest will reside while in the US.
    • Your contact information.
    • If you will provide accommodations or financial support for your guests while they are visiting you, you may also want to note this in the letter and provide proof of finances.
            • An appointment letter from your department showing the source and amount of any University funding; or
            • A letter from your bank indicating the date you opened your account, the current account balance, and (if possible) the average balance over the past 12 months.
    • You may want to include a photocopy of your I-20/DS-2019, I-94, passport, visa and if applicable your employment authorization (e.g., EAD card) with the letter.
  • The person whom you invite should be prepared to show evidence that s/he has finances that are adequate for the length of stay in the United State and that s/he intends to exit the US according to the terms of the visitor visa. Finances may come from you or from their own savings; official bank documentation should be provided.  Tourist visa applicants should also be prepared to show evidence that they have binging ties t o their home country and solid reasons to return home following their visit. They may be asked to show a round-trip ticket.
  • You may want to advise your relatives/friends to review the non-immigrant visa interviewing tips provided by NAFSA: Association of International Educators.
  • Additionally, you might also consider requesting a Certificate of Enrollment, or transcript from the Registrar’s Office confirming your continued enrollment status at SUNY-ESF or you may want to provide the graduation schedule to your family and friends. You can access information about commencement here.