There are various mandatory requirements to obtain a visa when visiting the United States. However, a letter of invitation from the American host is not one of them. The U.S. citizen or resident who will host the visiting B-2 visa holder may send a letter, but an invitation is not required and cannot guarantee visa issuance. Many people feel more comfortable sending a letter, and we’ve provided a sample invitation letter for a visitor visa below.
Visitor Visa Requirements
B-2 visa applicants must qualify for the visitor visa according to their own circumstances, not on the basis of a sponsor’s letter or assurances. Based on the merits of the application and interview, a consular officer determines whether or not the applicant qualifies for a visa. In fact, to qualify for a B-2 visitor visa to the United States, applicants must meet the following three criteria:
Have a residence in a foreign country to which they will return to after their temporary visit;
Proof of residence is typically determined by evaluating an applicant’s ties to their country. Examples of ties include but are not limited to: employment, property ownership, university studies, and/or close family. The consular officer will consider each applicant’s ties individually.
Intend to enter the United States for a period of a specifically limited duration;
Applicants must be able to show that they will depart the United States in a timely manner to return to their residence abroad. Part of showing you will depart is to show you have the financial means to return home.
Will go to the United States to engage in activities consistent with the visa.
For a B-2 visa, applicants must be able to demonstrate to the satisfaction of the consular officer that their travel plans fall within the parameters of the visa. This includes holiday/vacation, tourism, visiting friends/family, medical treatment, etc. The letter of invitation is evidence of the visitor’s intent.
B-2 Letter of Invitation Explained
A B-2 letter of invitation is simply a letter written by the U.S. host to demonstrate that the visitor has a place to stay during the trip to the United States. Generally, the letter carries more weight if written by a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident. The letter should state that the host is willing and able to accommodate the visitors during the specified duration of the trip. The host may include specific dates or a general period in which the visitor is welcome. It’s also helpful to state if the host and visitor have family ties or are friends. There is no requirement for an invitation letter for visitor visa. Therefore, there are no hard requirements for the letter. With that said, a letter should generally contain the following:
- Host’s full name and contact information
- Guest’s full name and contact information
- Guest’s relationship to the host
- Purpose of the planned visit, including the event (if applicable) or places you will visit
- Duration the visitor will stay with you or where you’ve made arrangements for him or her to stay
- Financial arrangements to cover the guest’s expenses during the visit (if applicable)
- Signature of the host
Write the letter in your own words, but try to be as specific as possible. We’ve included a sample invitation letter for a visitor visa below.
Sample Invitation Letter for Visitor Visa: Friends
Sample Invitation Letter for a Visitor Visa: Family
Stronger Evidence to Support a B-2 Visa Application
For visitors that are currently unemployed, don’t have property and generally lack financial assets, it can be more difficult to demonstrate strong ties to their home country. In these cases, immigration officials become concerned that they will try to stay in the United States. An Affidavit of Support can help remove this doubt.
Known as Form I-134, the Affidavit of Support shows that someone in the United States is willing to take financial responsibility for you. If you can prove that you are financially independent or are employed in your home country, you typically don’t need a Form I-134.
Form I-134 is a promise by the U.S. sponsor to repay the U.S. government if you should ever depend on public benefits. It isn’t a promise to support the visitor.