The US tourism industry is huge, welcoming millions of people around the world every year. In 2016 alone, there were 75.9 million foreign visitors to the country. This number is expected to rise to 89 million by the year 2022, according to figures provided by Statista. People have varied reasons to visit US; tourism, medical purpose, attending business conferences, educational exchange programs etc.
A majority of these people visit US to see their friends and relatives settled there. US citizens and legal permanent residents can invite visitors to at their places. Letters of invitation are important in visa application process. Although it is not mandatory, but it does help them in gaining an edge or you can say putting a favourable impression on visa officials.
How to Write a Letter of Invitation
Remember, this must be a personal document and not something a lawyer would write for you. You have to make sure that you mention your and your guest’s full name and address. Make sure to include:
- The purpose of the visit; including the places your guest might visit during his/her stay.
- How long your guest is going to stay and what are the arrangements of his/her accommodation.
- Are you planning to cover your guest’s expenses? If yes, then what portion of it will you cover? Also, how will you pay for it?
- Are you planning to cover your guest’s transportation expenses? If yes, mention the details.
In case you are planning to provide financial support to your guests for their accommodation and travel expenses, but you don’t want to write a letter of invitation, you can simply fill a USCIS Form I-134. The form is called ‘Affidavit of Support’ and is available at USCIS website.
Don’t forget to get insurance.
It is recommended that you get travel insurance when traveling to USA, as medical expense (even for common flu) can run into hundreds of dollars! Here are some of the best insurance for US visitors.
However, providing a letter of invitation or filling the ‘Affidavit of Support’ doesn’t necessarily ensure that your guest will be permitted an entry in the US. Your guest can have a US tourist visa if he/she qualifies the following criteria:
- They must have a valid passport.
- They must have good health. People having contagious diseases such as tuberculosis might get their visa denied.
- They must leave the country, once your visa expires.
- They must engage only in recreational activities.
- They must have adequate funds to support their stay in US.
- They must have a good character.
An US consular or immigrant officer decides whether your guest qualifies for a visa. The decision is based on his/her visa application and interview. To qualify for a tourist or business visa, the applicant must convince the US immigration officer that he/she is a permanent resident of that country from where they apply and will return to his nation, after a specific period of time.
It’s an amazing feeling to have guests from other countries. A letter of invitation goes a long way in establishing credibility. This is especially true for students (mostly doctoral researchers) who are invited to stay at their professor’s or mentor’s place in the US. In case, your guests are denied US visa, you can consult an experienced attorney who can provide you possible solutions.