Every foreign child that wishes to enter the United States as a tourist needs a visa; the only exceptions are children that have a passport from a country in the Visa Waiver Program.
These are some things you should know about the tourist visa for children:
1. Every child needs a visa, including babies. In some countries, it is allowed to include your child in the passport of one of the parents. In those cases, both the child and the parent need the visa stamp in the parent ´s passport. Nevertheless, what´s most common is that every infant has a passport, with their visa stamp.
2. You need to request a visa for your child in the same way in which you asked for it for yourself, that is, by completing the online form known as DS-160. The first step is to select the place where you will request the visa. That way you will follow not only the general instructions but also the specific instructions required by that consulate or embassy.
3. Every child must also pay the corresponding visa fee, which the US government will not reimburse in case the visa is not approved.
4. As a general rule, minors that are 14 years old or more should personally assist the interview, and biometric data must be acquired such as photographs and fingerprints.
5. It´s common that in Latin American countries infants should attend the meeting in the embassy or other application centers. Nonetheless, only in rare cases will they request the fingerprints of someone less than 14 years old. This depends on whether the parents have a valid visa or not, on the minor´s exact age and the consulate. It´s essential that you follow the instructions while completing the form, to avoid mistakes. Keep in mind that in specific cases the consular official can request to see the child.
6. The general rule is that minors under 16 years old should attend the interview with both parents.
7. If both parents cannot participate in the meeting, the person that does assist must:
• Prove that he or she has exclusive custody over the minor, with documents such as court orders, widow certificates, or other cases related to single mothers.
• Deliver a testimonial sealed by a notary public that states that the missing parent is not attending the interview for a good reason and that he or she authorizes the other parent to request a visa for the child.
8. In the meeting, the parents must bring the minor´s passport and an original copy of the birth certificate. They must also carry their own valid or expired passports, with a US visa, and if they don´t have a passport, a document that identifies them, such as their national ID.
9. The permit will be denied, among other reasons, if the parents cannot prove enough economic and family ties in the country in which they usually reside. If both parents already have a tourist visa, if they have entered and exited the county within the authorized terms, and never had any trouble, it´s highly likely that the permit will be approved.
10. Even though in some cases it´s possible to request a tourist visa in a country other than the one in which the individual lives typically, this is not an advisable thing to do since it could cause unnecessary inconveniences.
11. A child that lives outside the USA, but was born in the USA, cannot request a tourist visa because he or she is a US citizen. What this person has to do is to have a valid passport to enter the US (even if that person is also a citizen of the country in which he or she lives)
12. If a child born outside the USA has at least one parent that is an American citizen, parents should verify if the child has the right to be an American citizen by birthright. Rules are different in the case of the mother or the father, and their marital status is also relevant.
13. When traveling with a child to an international territory, you must follow specific rules, especially if the infant is not going with both parents. For example, many countries require an additional form to be completed. It´s important to avoid confusing situations that could label a trip to another country as international child kidnapping.