Conditions apply for visas for minors
I plan to take my 11-year-old niece to Disney World as a reward for doing well on her end-of-year exams. She is really smart and I have no doubt that she will do well, so I am making arrangements for the trip now. She has been living with me since she was four years old. What documents do I need to bring in for her visa appointment? Do I still have to fill out an online application?
The Proud Uncle
Dear Proud Uncle:
Your question is one that the embassy hears often. Due to the fact that the US Government is committed to combating child smuggling and international parental abduction, only biological parents or legal guardians can apply on behalf of their children for a visa. We understand that many children may live with aunts, uncles or grandparents because the child's parents are absent for various reasons. However, you must be the child's mother, father or legal guardian in order to apply for a visa for a child. We will continue under the assumption that you are the legal guardian.
It is important to note that applying for a US visa for a minor (any person under the age of 18) is much like applying for a regular adult visa. You will need to pay the application fee at TTPost, fill out an online application, and schedule an appointment online. If you, and/or your spouse, are applying with the child, each person will need their own TTPost receipts, online application and appointment slot. Please make your appointments at the same time so that we can interview you as a family.
As a basic rule, everyone applying will need their application confirmation page, two TTPost receipts, an appointment confirmation page, two passport photos, all old passports and a valid passport.
For most minor applicants, the mother and father would attend the interview, bringing the child's birth certificate and their passports (old and new). In the event that either the mother or the father were unable to attend the interview, the above mentioned items will still be needed along with a notarised letter from the missing parent granting permission for the child to apply for a non-immigrant US visa. If you were a single parent and it is impossible to contact the other parent, you may want to consider a court custody order that gives you full legal custody of your child.
In your case, since you are the legal guardian of the child, you will need to bring court documents to prove you are the legal guardian and your passports (old and new). So, if you want to take your niece to the US but you are not the legal guardian, you will need to get a court order declaring you as her legal guardian or allow her parents to apply on her behalf. Also note that the same rules regarding parents would apply if say, you and your spouse were listed as legal guardians. Both of you would need to be present for the interview or have a notarised letter of consent from the absent guardian.
US Embassy, Port of Spain