Below is information for UMass Lowell students or employees wishing to invite a non-U.S. citizen or non-permanent resident to visit them in the U.S. There is no specific visa document issued by the University for this purpose.
Family, relatives, and friends that plan to visit you in the U.S. will most likely need to apply for a tourist visa (B1/B2 visa).
The visa applicant should be prepared to explain the following points and provide related documents:
- The visit to the United States will be temporary. The applicant may need to provide an invitation letter from you. Your invitation letter should list the purpose of the visit, i.e. to attend your Commencement, visit family, etc. Please note that the invitation is from you and not from UMass Lowell. U.S. Consular Officials will only acknowledge invitation letters from their respective contact in the U.S. inviting a family or friend to visit them.
- There are adequate funds to cover the cost of transportation and cost of living in the United States. The applicant may need to provide evidence of sufficient funds to support themselves while in the U.S. in the form of a bank statement. Alternatively, you as the individual inviting them may provide your current bank statement as evidence of adequate financial support to cover their temporary stay in the U.S. There is also a form called an I-134 Affidavit of Support (can be accessed on the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website) which could be completed by you and used in their visa applications. However, it is not a required document for a B1/B2 visa application.
- The Visitor Applicant must prove their intent to return homeThis may be documented by evidence of a job, immediate family members left behind dependent on their return for care, property, business ownership, or other strong ties to their home country. Please refer to the guidance from the U.S. Department of State on what constitutes as strong ties.
Two Step Process for Family and Friends
- Applying for a visa
- For most visitor applicants, a B1/B2 visa from a U.S. embassy or consulate outside the U.S. is needed to enter the U.S. Guidance on the non-immigrant visa application process is available on the website of the U.S. Department of State.
- Please note that Canadian citizens and citizens of Visa Waiver countries do not need to obtain visas for this purpose.
- Visa Waiver applicants do however need pre-clearance authorization called Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) prior to traveling.
- They must present evidence of ESTA approval at the port of entry to the U.S. Please refer to the official ESTA website for details.
- Entering the United States
- When entering the U.S., a U.S. government official at the port of entry will annotate the visitor's I-94 card (an electronic record completed prior to entry to the U.S. which can be accessed on the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) website) indicating how long the visitor may remain in the U.S. The length of stay that the U.S. government official grants to the visitor is discretionary, normally no longer than 3-6 months, but could be shorter. The official stay in the U.S. is set by the expiration date issued at the port of entry, which is not necessarily the same as the visa stamp. Each entry lists a specific timeline for that particular visit, which often differs from the expiration date of the visa stamp, so the visitor must check the expiration date listed on their I-94 record. There are serious consequences to anyone overstaying their legal stay in the U.S.
- The visitor may also undergo another interview/screening process by the CBP at the U.S. port of entry.
Additional Documents that are NOT REQUIRED, but may be included:
If you are an international student requesting a family member to attend your Commencement, you may wish to include a copy of your official UMass Lowell transcript and/or Enrollment Verification Letter, which can be accessed using the quick links in the SiS Student Center. You may also print a copy of the Academic Calendar listing the Commencement date. In addition, you and your family should refer to the official Commencement website for additional information and deadlines.
Since the purpose of a tourist visa does not directly involve UMass Lowell’s visa sponsorship, the invitation letter you provide to your invited family member may not be issued by any UMass Lowell office, including the International Students & Scholars Office. We hope that this guidance is helpful to you. Feel free to consult with an immigration attorney with any additional questions.