How & When to Write a Visa Letter of Invitation to a Friend or Relative Coming From Abroad

A visa letter of invitation should be personal, but contain assurances to the U.S. government that the foreign visitor will be staying for a limited time, and ideally have financial support.

If you are a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, and you have a friend or relative who seeks to come to the U.S. as a tourist (on a B-2 visitor visa), you might be able to help the person by providing a letter of invitation. Whether the person will be visiting a U.S. consulate and applying for the visa or already has a visa, but will still need to get past U.S. port or border guards, it can help smooth the way.

It's important to realize, however, that such a letter is not a requirement, and might as easily be disregarded by the U.S. officials considering whether to grant your friend U.S. entry. Ultimately, that person will need to convince U.S. officials that the visit to the U.S. will not be a permanent one, and that the other visa eligibility criteria are met.

What Challenges an Invitation Letter to a Foreign Visitor Might Overcome

Getting a U.S. tourist visa can be challenging, because the U.S. government is worried about the number of people who use these as a way to enter the U.S. and then never leave, or who overstay by days, months, or years.

The aim of your invitation letter would be to help show the U.S. consular officer who considers the visa application that the person has a specific plan regarding visiting (and eventually leaving) the U.S., perhaps has a place to stay, and will not need to find work in order to support him- or herself while here (if, that is, you plan to offer financial backup or support). Also see Reasons a U.S. Tourist Visa (B-2) Could Be Denied.

What to Include in a Letter of Invitation for a Foreign Visitor

This should be a personal document, not something like a lawyer would write, so don't stress over making it sound official. Make sure to include both your and the recipient's name and full address, for example using the format shown below.

Also be sure to cover:

  • the purpose of the planned stay, including what places you will visit together
  • how long the visitor will be staying with you or where you've made arrangements for accommodations
  • whether you will be covering transportation to and from the United States, and
  • how much of the person's expenses in the U.S., if any, you plan to cover.

Be as specific and detailed as possible. Below is a sample letter for you to use as a guide.

Sample Visitor's Visa Invitation Letter

Jim and Madeline Newton
114 Lime Grove
Montego Bay, St. Mary's Parish
Jamaica, West Indies

Subject: Invitation to visit me in the U.S.

Dear Mom and Uncle Jim:

I would like to extend this invitation for you both to come and visit me in the United States for three months. It sure would be nice to see you both. During your stay we will take two weeks and go on a road trip to various places such as Philadelphia and New York City.

I will cover all of your expenses for this trip, including travel to and from the United States, travel to and from destinations we will visit, meals, recreation, and housing.

You will be staying with me at my home located at the below-mentioned address when we're not on the road. I will make reservations for motels for our road trip.

I can't wait to see you.


Macy Newton

73 Savannah Court
Washington, DC 20002
Home: 202-555-1212
Work: 202-555-2121

You can give this letter to your friend or relative to take along to the U.S. consulate when her or she presents the various forms and documents that comprise an application for a U.S. visitors' visa and meets with a U.S. consular official.

Alternative If You're Willing to Provide Financial Support: Fill Out USCIS Form I-134

If you plan to provide financial support to the visitor while he or she is in the U.S., and don't feel like writing a letter, you can fill out USCIS Form I-134, called an Affidavit of Support. Or, you can provide both a letter and a Form I-134.

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