Moving to a new country can be an intimidating process full of paperwork, appointments, and waiting. If your parents want to visit you in the United States, they’ll likely need a visitor visa. But how long can parents legally stay in the US on this type of visa?
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk through everything you need to know about visitor visas for parents. We’ll outline the visa application process, explain the rules around length of stay, and provide tips for extending or renewing your visa.
Overview of Visitor Visas for Parents
The most common visa for parents seeking to visit the US is the B-2 tourist visa. This non-immigrant visa allows for temporary stays in the US for tourism, visiting family, receiving medical treatment, or other recreational purposes.
To be approved for a B-2 visa, parents must prove to the consular officer that they:
- Intend to leave the US after their temporary stay
- Have strong ties to their home country they plan to return to
- Can cover all costs of the visit themselves
Applicants will need to complete a visa application, attend an in-person interview at a US embassy or consulate, and provide supporting documents. Visas are often valid for 6-10 years, with parents allowed stays of up to 6 months on each visit.
Duration of Stay Allowed on a Visitor Visa
Many parents want to know exactly how long they can remain in the US under this visa program. Here’s a breakdown of the rules and regulations around length of stay:
Initial 6-Month Entry
When parents first enter the US, they will be admitted for a set period of stay by the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer, up to a maximum of 6 months.
The CBP officer will determine the appropriate length of stay based on factors like:
- Purpose of visit
- Submitted itinerary and travel plans
- Evidence of ties to home country
Unless there are concerns around any of these factors, parents are typically granted the full 6 months stay on their initial entry.
Extending Stay While in the US
If parents wish to extend their stay beyond the initial period granted by the CBP officer, it is possible to file an extension application while still in the US by:
- Filing Form I-539 with USCIS
- Including supporting documents like financial evidence
- Paying $370 application fee
This extension can allow parents to remain in the US for up to another 6 months past their original departure date. The application must be submitted before the initial entry period expires.
Returning to the US After Visiting Home Country
After their approved period of stay ends, parents must depart the US. However, they can return after a short visit outside the country.
Generally, parents should wait at least 30 days before seeking re-entry, though some consulates recommend waiting 3 or 6 months.
When returning, parents can then be granted another stay of up to 6 months by the CBP officer at the port of entry. This process can be repeated as long as the underlying visa remains valid.
Long-Term Stays and Visa Renewal
Parents cannot remain indefinitely in the US on a visitor visa. The intention is for temporary visits only. After 1 year of cumulative stay, parents may be denied entry for extended visits.
If the underlying B-2 visa expires while your parents are in the US, they will need to return home to their country of citizenship and apply for a renewal at the embassy or consulate there.
Alternative Visa Options for Parents
While the B-2 visa is the most common for visiting parents, there are some other non-immigrant visa options in certain situations:
- B-1 visa – For parents coming for short business trips, conferences, or training
- F-1 visa – If parents enroll in an academic program as a student
- J-1 visa – For programs like cultural exchange, research, or work-and-study
Parents may also pursue an employment-based or family-sponsored immigrant visa, leading to lawful permanent resident status and an eventual green card. Immigration attorneys can advise if parents may be eligible for these alternative visa options.
Let Us Guide You Through the Visitor or Immigrant Visa Process
We hope this article helped explain key considerations around visitor visas for parents looking to join family in the United States. While the immigration system can seem daunting, savvy San Jose immigration attorneys like those at the Law Office of Lina Baroudi are here to guide you every step of the way.
Reuniting with loved ones is life’s greatest joy. Contact their team today to discuss your family’s options for visiting or immigrating to the US.