Renee J. Tello Legal Blog

Monday, November 22, 2010

Dispelling the Invitation Letter Myth - Three Ways to Get a B-1/B2 Visitor Visa

Many clients that approach me for assistance in applying for a Visitor Visa identify upfront that they have an invitation letter.  They say this with an air of confidence that implies that they somehow have an ace in the hole.  Contrary to this seemingly widespread belief, that the invitation letter is a golden ticket, the invitation letter is likely the least important piece of evidence necessary for applying for a Visitor Visa.  In this blog I will explore the three main criteria that must be met in order to obtain a Visitor Visa to the United States.  Of course, generally all visa applicants must be admissible to the U.S. (i.e. not have certain serious health or criminal issues), however, that’s a different blog for a different day.  To follow are the three specific elements necessary for a B Visitor Visa application:

1. Purpose

B visas are issued to allow foreign nationals to enter the U.S. for very specific purposes.  The Visitor Visa is classified into two sub-categories the B-1 Business Visitor Visa and the B-2 Visitor Visa.  The B-1 Business Visitor Visa permits foreign nationals to enter the U.S. for the purpose of business (i.e. business meetings, contract negotiations, seminars, conferences etc.).  The B-1 visa does not permit the visa holder to work in the U.S. or earn any remuneration in the U.S. for activities undertaken while on the B-1 visa. The B-2 Visitor Visa allows foreign nationals to enter the U.S. for the purpose of medical treatment or pleasure (i.e. surgery, visiting friends/family, sightseeing, attending a wedding etc.).  The B visa applicant must provide evidence establishing that the purpose of their trip falls within one of the previously described purposes.  Such evidence would be an invitation letter, wedding invitation, itinerary of events, letter from business associate, letter from hospital etc.).  This is usually the easiest element for visa applicants to satisfy.

2. Temporary Intent

B visa applicants must also demonstrate that they only have the intent to remain in the U.S. temporarily.  In simple terms, temporary intent refers to an applicant’s intent to return home upon the expiration of their short stay in the U.S.  The Department of State/U.S. Consulates are very focused on ensuring that B visa applicants are not going to use their B visa, if granted, as a means of entering the U.S. and over-staying.  As such, each B visa applicant must demonstrate that they have very strong ties to their home country that will ensure that they return there.  Evidence of strong ties include: long-term employment, ownership of real estate, marriage, children etc.  If an applicant is not able to demonstrate strong ties through concrete evidence the B-visa application will be denied.  This is the element that most B visa applicants fail to satisfy which results in the denial of their applications. 

 3. Financial resources

Finally, all B visa applicants must demonstrate that they have the financial resources to carry out the purpose of their trip.  For instance, if the applicant’s purpose is to obtain medical treatment, they must demonstrate that they have the funds necessary to pay for the medical treatment they intend to receive.  In addition, an applicant must be able to demonstrate that they have funds to pay for air-fare, accommodations and costs of tourism if that is the purpose of their trip.  Applicants must submit evidence of bank statements, employment letters or an invitation letter etc.  The invitation letter could be used help satisfy this element if the applicant intends to stay with a friend or family member or if a family member or friend will be covering the cost of the trip.

In sum, the invitation letter may be helpful to establish purpose of trip and/or financial resources.  However, establishing temporary intent or strong ties are really the main criterion that must be met in order to have a successful B visa application; and an invitation letter cannot help an applicant with this element of the visa application.  As such, simply submitting an invitation letter in support of a Visitor Visa application will not be sufficient to obtain a visa approval.  Applicants should ensure that they focus on providing concrete evidence of all three of the elements, with particular focus on temporary intent element, in order to have a successful B visa application.

For further assistance in applying for a Visitor Visa please contact The Law Office of Renee J. Tello, PLLC.

The Law Office of Renee J. Tello, PLLC serves clients throughout the New York City metropolitan area including Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, Bronx, Staten Island and Westchester.

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