Do I need an invitation from an U.S. citizen or someone in the U.S. in order to qualify for a tourist visa?

November 7, 2016

We understand the wish of U.S. citizens and residents to have family members visit the United States, and to send letters of invitation.  An invitation is not required and cannot guarantee visa issuance. In fact, there are no required documents for tourist/business visa applications.  Visa applicants must qualify for the visa according to their own circumstances, not on the basis of a sponsor’s assurance.  Based on the application and interview, a consular officer determines whether or not the applicant qualifies for a visa.

In order to qualify for a visa for business or pleasure to the United States, each applicant must demonstrate that they qualify based on U.S. immigration law and: 1) They have a residence in a foreign country to which they will return to after their temporary visit; 2) Intend to enter the United States for a period of a specifically limited duration; and 3) Will go to the United States to engage in legitimate activities relating to business or pleasure.

The first requirement, proof of residence, is generally determined by evaluating an applicant’s ties to their country.  Examples of ties are employment, property ownership, university studies, and/or family.  Each applicant’s ties are unique and are considered individually by a consular officer.

For tourist/business visas, the most commonly applied for visa class, applicants must be able to demonstrate to the satisfaction of the consular officer that their travel plans fall within the parameters of the requested visa class – limited travel for pleasure or business (but not employment) of short durations.  Applicants must also be able to demonstrate that they will depart the United States in a timely manner to return to their residence abroad.

In addition to demonstrating strong ties, an individual must show that he or she will use the visa appropriately.  This means convincing the consular officer that all activities in which the applicant expects to engage in while in the United States are legal and consistent with the requested visa class.  This is the case regardless of the applicant’s financial situation or ties abroad.