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When hosting a conference, you want to make sure that you invite the best talent from around the world. This might mean courting attendees from countries that do not have free-visa entry to the United States. In order to make it possible for colleagues from such countries to attend your event, you’ll need to offer the option of a ‘Letter of Invitation’, also known as a…

Business Invitation Letter for Visa. What exactly is a Letter of Invitation? It’s a document prepared by an individual or company, in order to invite a professional to a business event, such as a seminar, training or conference in the United States.

A Letter of Invitation isn’t necessary for visitors from every foreign country. There are 38 countries that are eligible for free-visa entry to the United States— individuals from these countries will not require a Letter of Invitation. Visitors from the many other countries that are not included in this list will need to obtain a B-1 Tourist Business Visa, a.k.a. a Letter of Invitation. A B-2 Visa is intended for visitors traveling for personal purposes, such as to see family or friends. A B-1 Visa is only for professionals.

It is standard practice to offer conference participants the option of obtaining a Letter of Invitation to verify their intent to attend your conference. Typically, during registration for the event, there is a checkbox or similar field that that asks participants if they will require a Letter of Invitation. If checked, the conference will provide a letter on a standardized format. Companies generally leave enough time for attendees to prepare their applications for entry—even more reason to offer early bird specials! A Letter of Invitation can request the presence of an individual, group, or even an entire organization. It can be formal: a notarized letter sent in hard copy; or informal: an email sent with a company header. The letter will be one part of a larger set of materials presented to a US visa officer for approval.

Getting a U.S. visa can be challenging and confusing for conference attendees from foreign countries; the aim of the Letter of Invitation is to smooth the way by showing the U.S. officer that the visitor has a specific plan regarding visiting and exiting the country. The letters are not required and do not guarantee entry, but they can help aid in an increasingly difficult process. Letters of Invitation demonstrate that a professional will be visiting the United States for a specific, limited amount of time. The letter also stresses the importance of having a person or group present in the room, as opposed to over video call.

It’s important that we understand why it is important to make it easier for foreign professionals to attend events: to foster unique relationships. Companies have the opportunity to use conferences and other events to benefit from the expertise of a diverse, international professional community. Letters of Invitation can help ensure that your company remains part of a global community where ideas about tech, trends, and entrepreneurship are exchanged and fostered.

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