How to invite your family to visit you or attend your graduation ceremony

If a friend or family member wants to visit you in the U.S. to attend your graduation ceremony, sightsee, or just spend time with you, you will need to write your friend/family member an invitation letter and gather accompanying documents to send to that person so that she or he can apply for a visa.

 Here is a step-by-step guide:

  1. Download the form letter here, (source:Stevens Institute of Technology) and save it on your computer.
  2. Wherever you see information in bold like this, you must remove the words in bold and input your own information.
  3. Once you have completed the letter, print it out on plain white paper; Stevens letterhead is not needed and will not be provided by ISSS for this purpose.
  4. Sign the letter in blue ink where you see “[Your Signature].”
  5. Send the letter to your friend/family member as a scan or original (preferred) by mail.
  6. Along with the letter, you should provide the following to your friend/family member:
    1. Everyone: Send copies of your I-20 (first and third pages) and passport ID page (with your picture).
    2. If you are a current student (even if you are graduating this semester), send a copy of your official transcript. You can request this from the Registrar’s Office.
    3. If you are graduating, send proof of your graduation– a Letter of Expected Completion. You can request this from the Registrar (graduate students) or the Student Service Center (undergraduate students).
    4. If you are on OPT, send a copy of your EAD (front and back) and offer letter for your current job.
  7. TO BE GRANTED A VISITOR VISA, YOUR FAMILY MEMBER MUST SHOW: • That s/he wants to visit the USA for no more than 6 months and • S/he intends to leave the USA at the end of his/her visit and • S/he has enough money to support him/herself and live in the USA without working or needing any help from public funds.
  8. HOW TO OBTAIN THE APPLICATION FORM: The visitor visa application form is called DS-156-Nonimmigrant Visa. It can be obtained from your nearest U.S. Embassy. Alternatively, it is available to download as a PDF from, click “Travel”, then “Visa”, then select “Forms” DS-156.
  9. DOCUMENTS REQUIRED FOR THE APPLICATION: You do not need a letter from any part of the UNVA specifically inviting your parents to come to the USA. As stated below, you do need a confirmation letter from UNVA and an invitation letter from you. To make their application they need to take a completed application form and the following documents to their nearest U.S. Embassy: 1. An application, Nonimmigrant Visa Application, Form DS-156, completed and signed. The DS-156 must be the March 2006 date, electronic “e-form application.” Select Nonimmigrant Visa Application Form DS-156 to access the electronic version of the DS-156. Important Notice : At certain U.S. Embassies and Consulates abroad, nonimmigrant visa applicants are now required to apply visa using the new DS-160 Online Nonimmigrant Visa Electronic Application, instead of the nonimmigrant application forms DS-156, 157, 158, and other related forms. Learn more and find out which Embassies have converted to the DS-160 Online process. 2. A Supplemental Nonimmigrant Visa Application, Form DS-157 provides additional information about your travel plans. Submission of this completed form is required for all male applicants between 16-45 years of age. It is also required for all applicants from state sponsors of terrorism age 16 and over, irrespective of gender, without exception. Four countries are now designated as state sponsors of terrorism, including Cuba, Syria, Sudan, and Iran. Select Special Processing Procedures to learn more. You should know that a consular officer may require any nonimmigrant visa applicant to complete Form, DS-157 .
  10.  A passport valid for travel to the United States and with a validity date at least six months beyond the applicant’s intended period of stay in the United States (unless country-specific agreements provide exemptions). If more than one person is included in the passport, each person desiring a visa must make an application;
  11. One (1) 2×2 photograph. See the required photo format explained in Nonimmigrant Photograph Requirements .
  12.  A short invitation letter from you, confirming your relationship with them and inviting them to come to the USA to attend your graduation. If you intend to support them during their trip, or pay for the cost of the trip, then you should state this in your letter. (A sample letter is provided)