If you are planning to travel to the U.S., whether for a simple visit or the start of a brand new life, and wish to bring your children along with you, you will have to make sure they have their own visas.
While certain aspects of the application process might be a little simpler for young children than they are for adults, every traveler needs to have his own visa - even babies and toddlers.
One of the main distinctions in the visa path for children under 14, is that their legal guardian may attend the consular interview instead of them.
If you are planning to visit the U.S. as a tourist with your child, or your child will be traveling in alone (for example, to go visit a relative in the U.S.), you will need to demonstrate that their accommodation is provided for during their stay and that they have enough funds available to cover their daily expenses. This can be as simple as an invitation letter from their U.S.-based point of contact, stating they will cover accommodation and travel expenses. Of course, if your child is traveling alone, they will need to carry a written letter of consent from one of their parents or a legal guardian.
Transit visas are only granted to children if they are traveling with a parent or legal guardian - so watch out before you book them a connecting flight through the U.S.!
As a holder of an F1, M1, or J1 visa as a student in a U.S. educational/vocational institution, your child would qualify for an equivalent F2/M2 or J2 visa as your dependent. In order to apply for one of these visas, you will only have to prove the relationship with the child and show that you already hold your student visa.
A parent who is already in the U.S. as a Legal Permanent Resident and who is looking to bring over their children to join them on a permanent basis can go through the IR-2 visa process in order to get them their own Green Cards. In order to be able to submit a petition for their visa, and act as their sponsor, you will have to have lived with your child for at least two years, before the date of the application - legal guardians need to have had legal custody of the same period of time.
An immigrant visa will certainly take more time than a nonimmigrant entry permit to obtain, as you will have to demonstrate sufficient financial means to take care of your child and provide a stable life. However, the USCIS takes uniting families as one of their highest priorities, and this is particularly true with minor children joining their parents.
Overall, you should expect your child’s Green Card to be delivered around one year after the application if you are a U.S. citizen, and around 2 years later if you are a Green Card holder.
Visitor visas are the most common non-immigrant visa out there, and for most, it’s the visa they will use to first travel to the U.S.
Of course, all visitor visas come with limits as to the kind of activities you are allowed to engage in during your stay on U.S. soil and the amount of time you are allowed to remain there - and should you not respect those, you can get into some serious trouble.
In order to receive a visitor visa, you will have to submit a complete and truthful application to your nearest embassy or consular office, pass a basic background check, and in many cases go through a consular interview, during which you will have to convince the Consular Officer that you will behave in accordance with the rules and conditions that apply. This mainly regards respecting the maximum duration of stay, which is clearly indicated on your visa, and the stated purpose of your visit to the U.S.
For some, once they arrive in the U.S., it might be tempting to engage in activities that they hadn’t initially planned - but by doing so, they would risk losing their visa, and seriously jeopardize their chances of successfully applying for one in the future.
A visitor visa does not allow you to study or follow an academic course, or really any training which provides academic credit. In practice, it would be difficult to enroll in such a course with one anyway, as typically a number of additional requirements apply - for example, the payment of the SEVIS fee.
There are many programs for foreign students seeking sponsorship and/or scholarship to study in the U.S. - and while theoretically, you could attend a lecture or seminar at any educational institution on your visitor visa, you will need to have a proper student visa in order to receive credits for attending. In other words, trying to study on a visitor visa wouldn’t get you very far, academically speaking.
If you are planning to study in the U.S., you should instead be looking to apply for an F1 or M1 visa.
By far the best way to get yourself deported from the U.S. and possibly banned from returning for years to come.
Under no circumstances are you permitted to engage in any sort of employment or work, whether paid or unpaid. A business visitor visa will allow you to conduct business-related activities, such as attending a seminar, meeting or conference, managing your estate, or signing a contract - but it grants you no more right to employment than any other visitor visa!
If you are looking to seek or enter employment in the U.S., your prospective employer will need to file a petition for a work visa on your behalf. Only after this petition is approved will you be able to start your visa application process.
A journalist isn’t a tourist! You might be working for a non-U.S. based media company, or even as an independent freelance journalist, in which case a work permit does not apply to you - but special facilities have been put in place by U.S. authorities to facilitate the work of foreign media.
The I-visa is specifically intended for use by journalists and reporters entering the U.S. to do their job; if you try to apply for a visitor visa and tell the Consular Officer you intend to perform journalistic activities, they will most likely deny your request and make you re-apply for the correct entry permit.
In order to avoid running into trouble, you should always act in good faith with respect to the conditions of the visa you applied/are applying for. If you have doubts or concerns about your visa conditions, reach out to our team of travel and immigration specialists today to make sure you stay in the clear.