As many of you know, it is not easy for family members to come to the United States for a visit. In fact, it’s almost impossible. I get lots of questions from readers about how to get a visa for a mother, grandfather, brother or sister to come for a visit based on two posts I wrote in 2010:
- How can someone from the U.S. get a tourist visa to the U.S.
- Hillary Clinton, where are you?
Since President Obama’s plan to reform the immigration system is top of the news, now is the time to revisit this topic. Immigration reform will make a difference for undocumented Mexican immigrants in the U.S. It will not likely make a difference for those wanting to visit and then return.
In 2006, I was successful in helping Zapotec weavers from Teotitlan del Valle get 10-year visitor’s visas to come to the United States? Why and how did this happen?
All are artists and artisans. They had letters of invitation from United States cultural arts organizations, museums and universities to come and present their work. We had a schedule of events organized and arranged in advance, along with planned arrival and departure dates from the United States. I worked through my local Congressman’s office in the district where I live to help alert the U.S. State Department Embassy in Mexico City, providing the date of the visa interview, Mexican passport number, and complete name of the person applying.
I have also been unsuccessful. In 2010, I tried to help a family attend a sister’s wedding in Santa Ana, California. The entire family planned to attend — a young mother, father and two small children. They were denied, even though I went through the process of alerting the Congressman’s office and providing a letter of invitation. You can read about this in the blog posts above. They paid the application costs for four people.
If you want to pursue getting a family member to visit you in the U.S., I suggest you first find the office of your elected Congressional representative in the city/town where you live and make an appointment for a visit. You must be a U.S. citizen to do this. Ask if they can help you bring your family member to the U.S. for a visit. There are congressional aides who can help with this process. This is your first and best approach.
- It costs over $125 USD for a visa application.
- It costs travel dollars to get to Mexico City for the interview.
- You must make an interview appointment months in advance.
- If your visa application is denied, your application fees are not refunded.
This is a difficult process, something I am not proud to report in the way people are summarily dismissed when consular officials don’t even open and read their documentation. This is a subjective process. It is painful and shameful how separated families can never see each other because of this broken system. I have heard many stories from family members who have not seen their loved ones in ten or twenty years.