If your family would like to visit you while at Roger Williams University or for Commencement, they will most likely need to apply for a Visitor’s Visa (B-1/B-2 visa stamp). Canadian citizens and citizens of visa waiver countries do not need to obtain visa stamps and can apply for this status at the Port of Entry.
Unlike student and scholar visas (F and J), the visitor visa is not “sponsored” and no specific form is attached to it (like the I-20). Applicants who need a visa stamp should be prepared to explain the following points at their visa application:
For the first question, a letter of invitation from you and from Roger Williams University may be helpful. When you are preparing a letter, be sure to address your status in the United States (e.g. student, F-1, J-1) and your intent to return home. You should also address the “cost of living” issue (for example, if your family will be staying with you instead of in a hotel or if you will help cover their finances while here). Copies of your visa documents are also helpful. The registrar can provide you with a letter stating that you are a full-time registered student at RWU, or a formal invitation to your graduation ceremony would be considered a letter of invitation from the University.
The second item can be addressed by your letter of invitation and a current bank statement. If you will help cover your family’s costs during their visit, you should submit your bank statement. However, your family members can also show their own funding in their bank statements. There is also a form I-134 called an Affidavit of Support, which can be completed by you and used at the visa interview. It is not required, and many people choose not to use it.
The third item, proving the intent to return home, might not even be asked in the interview process. However, applicants should be prepared to show they intend to return home whether by showing a job, family, property or other commitments that would bring them back to their home countries.
More information on the visitor and the application process can be found at: travel.state.gov/visa/temp/types/types_1262.html. The list of those countries eligible for a visa waiver is also found there.