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Letters of Invitation

Vanderbilt University ISSS often receives requests for invitation letters for students or scholars who have family or friends who come to visit them in the United States during their time at Vanderbilt.  ISSS does not write such invitation letters; the University is not inviting your family member to attend, but rather, you are.

Consular officials from the U.S. Department of State have stated that an invitation letter from the school is not required to process a visa application. At each consular interview, the official is making a determination as to whether or not the activity falls within the visa category and also examines whether the individual can overcome the assumption of immigrant intent. On its website, the Department of State says this about invitation letters: “A letter of invitation or Affidavit of Support is not needed to apply for a visitor visa. If you choose to bring a letter of invitation or Affidavit of Support to your interview, please remember it is not one of the factors used in determining whether to issue or deny the visa.” 

Below is some general information for your visitors.

General tips for your visitors who wish to visit the U.S.

Please refer to the specific U.S. Embassy website that your family member or friend will be going to for their interview.

Refer to information regarding tourism (B-2) visas from the U.S. Department of State website.

Your visitor should review the instructions for how to apply for a visa on the website of the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where the visitor will apply. Additional documents may be requested, such as:

During the interview, they should be prepared to explain, and provide documentation, if requested, of:

  • Purpose of trip
  • Duration of trip
  • Where they plan to visit while in the United States
  • How they plan to support themselves (be prepared to provide financial support documents)
  • Their intent to depart the United States after their trip.
  • They should be prepared to explain their non-immigrant intent.
  • Family ties to their home country
  • Proof of employment in their home country
  • Proof of residence in their home country

What the student/scholar should prepare for the family members or friends who are coming to visit them in the U.S., if requested from the consulate, and if applicable:

  • Invitation letter from you highlighting the reason for the visit. If you do create your own invitation letter, you might want to state what expenses you would be covering for, such as room and board, purchase of airline tickets, etc.).
  • Evidence of your valid student/scholar status, including a photocopy of your I-20 or DS-2019, passport, visa and I-94 card
  • Copies of your transcript and/or current enrollment (employment letter for J-1 scholars). For copies of your current enrollment or student status to assist your visitor, please contact the University Registrar’s Office for enrollment certification.
  • If your visitors are concerned about not having an invitation letter from Vanderbilt, they can print the guidance on the Department of State’s website to bring with them to their interview.