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Visiting the US? No invitation necessary

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Q: When I come for my interview, do I have to take an invitation letter with me to the Embassy?

A: The consular officer will almost never ask to see an invitation letter when you're applying for a non-immigrant visa. The United States does not require visitors to receive an invitation first before visiting.

The only instance in which an officer might ask to see an invitation letter would be if you were participating in a conference or convention and were a featured speaker, or something equally specific. Simply paying a social call, or attending a wedding or family gathering does not require an invitation.

Furthermore, an application will never be refused outright simply because you have not come with an invitation. If, for some reason, the officer should decide that it is necessary to produce such a document, he or she would refuse your case temporarily, and allow you the chance to return with the document at a later time.

It is always worth bearing in mind that the interview is the most important aspect of your visa application -- far more important than the documents you might bring with you. While many countries' visa applications are centred on documents, ours are focused on the face-to-face interview that you have with the consular officer. It is during that interview that you have the best chance of convincing the officer that you intend to use your visa lawfully, and return to Jamaica at the conclusion of your visit.

You must speak for yourself, rather than rely on the documents you bring to speak for you.

In the same way that an invitation letter is unnecessary, job letters, bank statements, land titles, and other supporting documents will almost never be considered by the officer. Rather, he/she will place far more weight on the interview. Take advantage of that time to demonstrate your good intentions and your ties to Jamaica. That short conversation is the single-most important piece of evidence that the officer will consider. He/she will only ask for documents if further clarification is needed.

Rather than marshalling documents, then, you can best prepare for your appointment by considering what you can say about your personal circumstances that will convince the officer that you will use your visa well and return to Jamaica.

Reminder for US Citizens:

The 2012 election season is now underway in the United States. To register to vote from abroad or to sign up to receive state-specific election alerts, visit http://fvap.gov. You may drop off your voting materials with postage affixed at the US Embassy in Kingston or at the US Consular Agencies in Montego Bay and the Cayman Islands for delivery to the United States.

For more information about American Citizen Services, please visit our website, http://kingston.usembassy.gov/service.html. For safety and security measures, the US Embassy asks that all individuals arrive at the Embassy or Consular Agency no more than 15 minutes before their designated appointment time.

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