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The B1 Visa Application: What is an Invitation Letter?

When it comes to obtaining a visa of any kind, it’s vital to make sure you’re checking all of the required boxes. No one wants to leave out a small detail and have that result in a visa denial. Some visa applications are harder to follow then others. For instance, the B1 visa appears to be a simple visa to apply, until you start learning about the documents that are not required but may be nice to have. Items such as the Invitation Letter tend to cause the most confusion.

The B1 Visa

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) handles all applications for the B1 visa. The B1 visa is a nonimmigrant visa permitting visitors entrance into the United States for business purposes only. In order to qualify for the business visa, applicants must meet the following criteria:

  1. A passport valid for travel to the United States,
    1. This passport must be valid for at least six months beyond your period of stay in the United States.
  2. The nonimmigrant Visa Application, Form DS-160 confirmation page,
    1. A link to this form may be found here.
  3. The application fee payment receipt, if you are required to pay before your interview,
  4. A photo,
    1. You will upload your photo while completing the online Form DS-160.
  5. The visit is business related,
  6. You have enough finances to cover your stay in the US, and
  7. You intend to return to your home country as soon as your visa expires.

What About the Invitation Letter?

If you know that you meet all of the requirements above, you may be asking yourself why you would even need the letter. The USCIS does not make the invitation letter a specific requirement to be awarded a B1 Visa. However, under certain circumstances, especially with short-term, business visas, this may be requested during the application process as additional proof. Due to this, many applicants proactively request the business they are working with (or for) to create this document.

The Details of the Invitation Letter

The purpose of the invitation letter, or Affidavit of Support, is to demonstrate that the business reason that you state for entering the country is accurate and true. The invitation letter is written by the US firm you’re working with. It should be addressed to you and act as an invitation to attend a meeting, business conference, etc. The letter should be printed on the company’s letterhead. These letters typically include:

  1. The name of the person you’re working with and the business name
  2. All applicable contact information
  3. An offer to visit for the purpose stated in the letter
  4. If the company will be providing any lodging or transportation costs, those should be outlined here since you must prove that the entirety of the trip is being covered by you or the employer.

Since the Invitation Letter is not required, there is not a specific format. It’s most important to ensure that, if it’s ever requested, it will act as the proof you need.

If It’s Not Required, Why Should I Get An Invitation Letter?

A B1 visa-holder is not allowed to make any money during their US visit. Therefore, the trip cannot be paid through any money made via working or signing a business deal while in the US. One has to be able to prove that they can cover the trip, or that their business is covering the trip, before entering the US.

This is the most common use for the invitation letter. A company will often provide some, if not all, of the trip’s costs. Therefore, the letter will act as proof that you can cover the trip. While the USCIS states that the letter will not be used in their decision-making, adding it into the mix can prove to all parties that you’re ready to go.

Need Help With The B1 Application Process? LawTrades Can Help!

There are a lot of requirements needed to apply for your visa. Hiring a skilled immigration attorney can take the load off of your shoulders. Plus, there are more than 100 different types of US Visas. Take a look at our Ultimate List to see just how many different visas really exist. After understanding your circumstances, an attorney may determine that the B1 may not even be the proper visa for your visit.

Let LawTrades match you up with a knowledgeable immigration attorney to get your visa application done right the first time.