Inviting parents and visitors : Paperwork and getting B1/B2 visa

Now that you are settled in the U.S. you want to invite your parents or friends over from another country. How does that work? For starters they have to apply for a Visitors Visa (B1/B2) and make travel plans. They will also have to buy insurance. In this forum you can discuss your experience in applying for visas for your parents, travel arrangements for your parents, insurance, etc.

Basically there are four easy steps to get the visa. Within each step there are several smaller steps to complete. If you follow the instructions associated with each step you can get the visitor visas in no time.

Step 1 Get an electronic photo of the applicants.


Step 2 Pay the B1/B2 visa application fee at designated HDFC bank.


Step 3 Fill the online application form (DS-160)


Step 4 Schedule the appointment at VFS.

Here are some tips that you can share with your parents.

Tips to get the right photo

  1. Ask the photographer if knows how to click the photograph as per the new rules.
  2. The photograph must be in digital form.
  3. Take a few extra prints of the photograph as well just in case you are not able to upload it on the form.
  4. The dimensions of the photo are 2 inches by 2 inches, plain background. It is better not to get a dark background. Ask for a plain white sheet as the background.
  5. Ask the photographer to set the scanner resolution to 300 dpi or 300 pixels per inch.
  6. Save the digital photo as a high quality (low compression) JPEG image file.

Tips to pay the HDFC Bank receipt

  1. Currently the visitor visa application fee is Rs. 6580 or $140 approximately.
  2. You can pay the fee in cash. You can also prepare a DD/HDFC bank check favoring "HDFC Bank a/c VFS"
  3. While making this payment you must carry a photocopy of the first page of your passport. 
  4. If you are sending the DD with someone else, make sure you give the photocopy of the passport to that person.
  5. The bank will then issue a receipt in duplicate. The receipt will have a 10 digit bar code. This is very important and will be used at the time of scheduling the B1/B2 visa interview.
  6. The visa fee receipt is valid for 1 year from the date of purchase.
  7. Remember the fee is not refundable. So pay when you are sure that you have to plan a visit to the U.S.
  8. Save both the copies. You will have to give one to the Consulate on the date of your interview.

Tips to fill the online application form (DS-160)

  1. You can fill the form at this link: Read the instructions and click on 'Start the application' at the bottom of the page.
  2. The basic goal to filling the DS-160 is to fill all the information honestly. Wrong information or misleading facts may result in visa ineligibility.
  3. Be very careful in filling out all the fields. All information related to personal information, especially name must be filled diligently as this will be printed on the visa. Make sure your name corresponds to the one printed on your passport. Often middle names and shorter names can cause problems.
  4. Attach your photograph when asked.
  5. Make sure you fill the right interviewing post in the DS-160. Use the same place for scheduling your interview later. 
  6. After you have filled the form you will get a confirmation page that you must print immediately. Make sure you use a laser printer as other printers do not print the bar code clearly. This is important.
  7. The DS-160 application times out after 20 mins. So make sure that you save the copy of the form on your computer if that happens. It's easy to file the already filled file rather than starting afresh. If you want to upload a previously filled application just go to the link Click on 'Start the Application' and scroll down to the bottom of the page to upload a previously saved application.

Tips to schedule the B1/B2 visa interview

Before you schedule your B1 visa interview please have the HDFC visa application fee receipt and the CEAC bar code ready. 

You can use the VFS appointment system for making an appointment. Go to the link and make the appropriate selection

  1. Make a new appointment.
  2. Cancel an existing appointment.
  3. Modify courier address.
  4. Download appointment letter

While the first three options are quite clear, the fourth option allows the user to download and print the details of an already confirmed appointment. You will need this before going for the B1 visa interview.

The last word

Be careful of filing the paperwork for the visitor visa. While most of the time people get it there are a few times visa applicants are turned down on grounds like 'not enough ties to your country'. Please discuss if this has happened to someone close to you.

Also please share details of your parents' travel and the issues they faced while getting the visitor visa.





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