Visas for Family Members

Inviting Family Members to Hawaii

During your study at UHM, you may want a family member to join or visit you. Please review the following information.

Spouse or Children Joining You:

F-1 and J-1 students may request F-2 or J-2 visa documents for their legal spouses and children under age 21. The F-1 or J-1 primary visa holder is legally responsible for providing adequate funding for these dependents. Children turning age 21 are not eligible for F-2 or J-2 status.

F-2 and J-2 visas allow spouse/children to stay with you indefinitely during your study period. Submit the completed form, Request to Add Dependent (pdf) to the ISS. You will be contacted when the visa documents are ready to pick up and send to your family. Your spouse and/or children will use these documents to apply for the F-2 or J-2 visa at a US Consular office abroad. NOTE: Dependents do not pay a SEVIS fee.

Extended Family and/or Domestic Partner Visiting:

Extended family members, including parents, grandparents, siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc. are not eligible for the F-2 or J-2 visa. Domestic partners are also ineligible because there is no recognized legal relationship under US law. These family members may come to the US/Hawaii as visitors.

ESTA:

If your visitor is from a “visa waiver country” that person may come without a visa for a stay of up to 90 days. The visa waiver process requires receiving authorization to travel under the “Electronic System for Travel Authorization” or ESTA. See https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov/esta/ for further information. Note that ESTA travelers may NEVER extend their stay beyond 90 days and MAY NOT change their status in the US.

Non-ESTA:

Your visitor who is NOT from a “visa waiver country” must obtain a B-1/B-2 visa from a US Consular office abroad. To facilitate your family member’s B-1/B-2 visa application, we recommend that you provide the following documentation:

  • Write a letter of invitation: Provide information on your student status. State the purpose of the visit, your relationship to the person visiting, and the length of time they will be visiting. A typical stay is no more than 3 months. If you are providing funding for their visit, include a bank statement or other evidence of your ability to help support your visitor. If the visitor has a job or business to which they plan to return, it is good to include this information as it will help lessen the presumption of immigrant intent. All applicants for non-immigrant visas may be subject to this presumption and may need to provide information on home country ties. Click here for Template Invitation Letter for Family Member (docx).
  • Obtain a letter of verification of enrollment: Request this from the Registrar’s office, located on the Ground Floor of the QLC building.
  • Attach evidence of financial stability: Provide evidence that you have an income (for example as a Graduate Assistant) or sufficient savings to cover the costs of your visitor(s) for the next few months. This is optional and may not be significant if your family members are able to prove their own funding.

Individual Responsibility for Visa Application, Documentary evidence, and Interview: Providing your family members with the above information may improve their chance of being approved for a visa. However, there is no guarantee that a visa will be issued. Much will depend on an individual’s ability to assure the consular officer that the visit is temporary and there is no intention to stay permanently in the US. Note that the ISS does not issue invitation letters. ISS is not able to credibly certify any information about your family members and therefore, the US State Department has advised universities that such letters are not helpful or encouraged.

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