Some people ask whether a tourist visa for the US can really be sponsored.
Since 1999, immihelp®.com has provided excellent, comprehensive, and detailed information about how people living in the US can show that they are willing to financially help when their relatives visit the US. These relatives may be unable to take care of their expenses for the US trip themselves. Hundreds of thousands of people have benefited from such information.
However, recently, a few people on various immigration discussion forums have been spreading the word that a tourist visa can never be sponsored, and is always self-sponsored. They additionally maintain that if the visitor can not take care of the trip expenses himself/herself, they should not be allowed to visit the US.
Well, that is absolutely not the case.
In that case, is the information on immihelp.com outdated? Of course not. Are they wrong? Well, we will try to clarify the confusion raised by some people.
What is US visa sponsorship?
Traditionally, a US visa sponsorship has been associated with an employer or close family member filing an immigration petition with the US government. This would be for obtaining a green card for their employee or close family member. It has also been associated with certain nonimmigrant petitions such as a work visa (e.g., H, L visa) as well as a family visa (e.g., Fiancé or K visa). In all of those petitions, the petitioner initiates the process by requesting the US government to grant the immigration benefit to the beneficiary. In that process, among other things, the petitioner, which is either an employer or family member, shows to the US government that they have enough financial resources to either pay the employee or take care of the expenses of the family member. Without such sponsorship, the beneficiary is unable to get the immigration benefit.
What is different in a US tourist visa?
When people apply for a tourist visa (visitors visa), among other things, they have to show that they have strong ties to their home country and that they intend to return to their home country after their temporary stay in the US. They also have to show that there is enough money available to take care of the expenses for their US trip such as air tickets, visitors insurance, lodging/boarding, transportation expenses, tourism expenses and all other expenses.
However, there is absolutely no requirement that only the visitors themselves have to come up with that money and that they must have their own money to fund the US trip. For example, there are many elderly parents in India who are genuine visitors to the US, but don’t have the finances to fund their own trip. However, they have their son or daughter that lives in the US who can very well fund their trip. There is absolutely nothing wrong in a US relative showing proof that he or she has enough money to take care of their parents’ or in-laws’ trip to the US. To show that they are sincere about it and to also show the proof of the same, they fill the Form I-134, Affidavit of Support, and provide other supporting documents. This is to show their income and savings to convince the visa officer that the helping relative indeed has that kind of money.
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Since the process of showing proof of financial ability and willingness to support is the same either way, we have called this process sponsoring the visitors visa and that is the terminology that is being widely used. It does not matter whether you call these documents ‘sponsor documents’, ‘financial help to the visitor’, ‘provide financial support’, or anything else, it is the same in any case.
Because the name or any other information of such a helper/support is not written anywhere on the visa stamp, there is no petition, and as it is not required for every visitor to find such a supporter or helper (in case they can support themselves), some people claim that a visitors visa can’t be sponsored, which is not entirely correct. Of course, it is very well understood that if the visitors can show that they can financially take care of the trip themselves, it is always better to do so, as being financially well-off can be one of the ties to the home country. However, that is not an absolute requirement that they must always do so, and that if they are unable to do so, they can’t get a visitors visa.
Visa vs Trip
To put in other words, ‘Visa’ is not sponsored, but ‘trip’ is sponsored, if that makes any of the doubters more comfortable. Anybody can pay for the expenses. In fact, there are three distinct questions in DS-160 Form: contact person in the US, who are you visiting, and who is paying for your trip. They can all be different (although it is better to have the first and second person as the same). The person you are visiting (who is a sponsor) should be of legal status in the US and that does not mean having a valid Visa, but a valid I-94, green card, or US citizenship. Questions in the DS-160 alone are enough proof that others can pay for the trip expenses of the visitors, if they themselves are unable to do so. If it were not allowed, there would be no such questions in the first place.
It is also possible to have the funds provided by one relative in the Visa application and subsequent trips (using the same Visa) are funded by a different relative. The first relative may not even be in the US anymore.
Matter of Interpretation or Intent
It is really up to various people on immigration forums whether they are genuinely interested in helping such genuine visitors or they would like to spread misinformation and scare them away. When some company sponsors an event or show, do they really file a petition somewhere? No. They just provide financial help. In other words, the sponsorship word is not strictly limited to filing a petition but is used in a wider context to help someone with something. If anyone still has a doubt about the meaning of the English word ‘sponsor’, they should refer to any reputed dictionary.
Additionally, please keep in mind that US consular officers are among the smartest people in the world. For example, they deal with over a thousand applicants every day at each consulate in India. They absolutely know what is going on with so many visitors visa applicants. Hundreds of thousands of visitors get visitors visas every year in such a manner.
In short, whatever name you call, relatives in the US are always allowed to financially help their relatives visit the US.
Therefore, be confident when you “sponsor” your relatives to visit the US.
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