How to Invite Someone from Africa to USA: A Complete Guide!

The stone age is no more; the world is now a global village.

If you are a lawful permanent citizen of the United States, you might want to know how to invite someone from Africa to the USA.

But first you need to UNDERSTAND this once and for all.

Table of Contents

Can an Invitation Letter help a Friend/Relative get a US Visa?

Writing an Invitation letter for a friend or relative is not going to help them get a B-2 visitors visa. Period. 

Let no one deceive you. And I’ll tell you why very soon.

Yes, for special occasions such as weddings or conferences, in which case, the invitation letter can serve the purpose of confirming the reason why you are visiting the US. And may be required at the port of entry – not at the consulate during your initial interview.

The B-2 visitor visa is granted based on an assessment made on the visitor as an individual, whether they are admissible as a visitor to the US and whether they intend to return home after the visit. 

But he’s my uncle.

US consul to your uncle, “Hey, it is not your WEDDING dear.”

Even if you want your UNCLE to get a visa to your wedding? You can not help him in any way.

YOUR UNCLE must prove to the US consul that he has a good financial standing, his visit to the USA will be very brief, he has so many ties to his home country, his other obligations, to his job and family, etc.

He should and will get a US visa by HIS OWN MERITS and RECORDS.

In any case, If your invitation letter states that they will be receiving free accommodation during their stay in the US, the letter might come in handy at the port of entry if the border control officer feels you are not carrying sufficient funds. 

In most cases, invitation letters are just confidence boosters that serve no practical purpose.

Invitation Letters: Why Many (Tourist B-2 visa) Visitors Will Die on this Hill…

Getting a U.S. tourist visa can be challenging, because the U.S. government is worried about the number of people who use these as a way to enter the U.S. and then never leave, or who overstay by days, months, or years.

Obtaining a U.S. tourist visa can be challenging, because the U.S. government is concerned about the number of individuals that use this as a way to enter the U.S., stay, planning never to leave, or who overstay their visitor visas.

In fact, the primary aim of your invitation letter would be to help show the U.S. consular officer who considers the visa application that the person has a specific plan regarding visiting (and eventually leaving) the U.S., perhaps has a place to stay, and will not need to find work in order to support him- or herself while in the US (if, that is, you plan to offer financial backup or support). 

However, this opportunity has been over abused in the past and doesn’t work especially for Tourist or visitor visas. 

But as Zig Ziglar would say, “Money won’t make you happy, but everybody wants to find out for themselves”

Invitation letter won;t get you a B-2 Visitors/tourist visa, but visitors want to find out for themselves. 

Can an Invitation Letter Help at the Port of Entry?

As I’ve mentioned earlier, an invitation letter may be necessary only at the port of entry and for very specific scenarios such as an invitation to a relatives wedding, graduation, conference, etc.. for which they may be staying with you.  

Let me explain.

Lots of people, especially first time visitors, don’t know that they will go through two separate scrutiny before they enter another country.

The Consulate – during Visa application process and interview if necessary

The port of entry(Immigration) – before you enter another country after a visa is granted

Therefore, you don’t need an invitation letter for the initial interview (visa acquisition process) at the consulate but may be – and I repeat – MAY BE necessary if the ommigration officer feels that you;re not prepared enough.

Another difference between the 2 screening processes is that, the (visa acquisition process) at the consulate takes time and that is what most people know to be the main scrutiny whiles the immigration process is a short verification at the last point of entry to be sure that everything is perfect to have been granted a visa and you’re all prepared to enter the country.

Infact, these two screening processes are not the same and you can be returned back to your home country by the immigration officer who doesn’t approve of your visit even with a visa. Yes! 

If I’m making sense so far – and I really need to, then the question begs; 

Do you need an Invitation Letter for a Tourist(B-2 Visitor) Visa to the USA?

The answer is a resounding NO. 

An American who wishes to invite a friend or relative to the US can ask them to apply for the B-2 tourist visa. In fact, writing an invitation letter doesn’t make the visa application easier, it rather makes it complicated and difficult according to US immigraion experts.

This is what the experts have to say about taking an invitation letter written by a supposed sponsor in the US to a friend/relative(visitor) to the US Consulate or Embassy when attending the initial visa interview:

“Any invitation simply wastes the interviewer’s time; any promises made in a letter are not legally enforceable, even if the visa officer should take the time to research the writer and his/her claims and promises. That time is far better spent dealing as quickly and efficiently as possible with that visa applicant, and then the rest of the daily queue of applicants.”

– Kathryn Berck (Retired US Consular)

“I would only add to Kathryn Berck’s answer that the US saves everything presented by the applicant in a digital file that is saved forever. While the US does not ask for “invitation letters”, has little use for them, and certainly will not bother to “verify” them, they WILL save them as evidence that the applicant has contacts in the USA who may help them overstay and violate the terms of their visa. Thus, an “invitation letter” might be the cause of visa denial now and forever, whether verified or not. If true, it increases the likelihood of illegal immigration. If false, it is evidence of a lie. Either way, the disposition of the application is the same: Denial.

 Kathryn Berck has given the best answer to this question. What the consular officer is after is to determine if the applicant is credible enough.”

– Jim Grupé, former Technical Consultant and Strategic Planner at Federal Government of the United States (1990-2015)

INVITATION LETTERS might be killing your chances for your friend/relative to visit you than you might think. It is astounding to know how many Africans, Indians, and several other people who believe an invitation letter can actually help them.

Yes, it might have helped some people years ago but it has been abused and great lessons learned by the US consulate.

  • US VISAS are granted based on your OWN MERITS.
  • Are YOU financially sound and have a good job or businesses?
  • Do you have strong ties to your country that will make you go back after visiting?

If you can convince the consul, then you will get a US visa.  

In short: You don’t need an invitation to visit the USA. Depending on which country you’re from you’ll need a visa which isn’t even required from most countries. You need to book a hotel and have traveling money and roundtrip tickets. You need no invitation as a tourist.

So what do you do then?

What documents do I need to invite someone to the USA?

As a responsible sponsor, this is the first question that would likely pop up in your mind if you are thinking about inviting an African friend or relative to America.

But it may not be necessary or required as spelt out by Kathryn Berck (Retired US Consular) that, “Any promises made in a letter are not legally enforceable, even if the visa officer should take the time to research the writer and his/her claims and promises. That time is far better spent dealing as quickly and efficiently as possible with that visa applicant, and then the rest of the daily queue of applicants.”

The applicant should get the visa on his/her own merit. Your documents therefore add little to nothing to their chances.

However, if they acquire the visa on their own merit, and you wish for them to stay with you for the period of their visit, then an invitation letter may be reassuring at the Us border.

Let me explain.

After a B-2 visitor visa is granted to tourist (your friend or relative), and they board a plane and gets to the US border, your invitation can be helpful there if the immigration officer feels that the visitor isn’t carrying enough funds or resources to cover the expenses (accommodation, basic upkeep, itinerary, etc..) of the visit.  

There and then, your letter may come handy. If they need more clarification in terms of documents, they will require it from you, not the viitor. Otherwise, it will be mentioned by the consulate to travel to the port of entry with these documents.

These things rarely happen.

Here are the documents that you may need to invite someone to the USA

  • Fill the Affidavit of Support Form I-134.
  • Write a letter of invitation to your visitor.
  • Attach your financial documents to the letter. This should include your:

1.Up-to-date tax returns

2.Banks statements


  • Proof of residential status in America. Necessary documents include:
  1. US passport
  2. Citizenship certificate
  3. Green Card copy (if any)
  4. Copies of your H1/L1 visas
  5. Approval forms for I-797 and I-94
  6. Employment letter may also be needed if you work in a company

NB: The birth certificate of the US sponsor may be required if the sponsor is inviting or his/her parents. These documents will be needed by the Consulate during the visa interview.

Anatomy of a Great Invitation letter

The letter must state the expected date of departure and arrival.

After all, what is good for the goose is also good for the gander. Why won’t you want to extend an invitation for an African brother or sister to visit you?

The US is quite a hospitable country. Unfortunately, some African countries don’t easily get American visas. This is due to one or two reasons best known by US immigration officers.

If you know the rules, the intricacies of how to invite someone from Africa to the USA shouldn’t be a problem. That’s what you are about to discover in this article.

There are no special requirements for the invitation letter for a USA visa.

The letter must include the name of the person inviting someone or the full name of the organization, address, email, website address, residential status.

The passport numbers, purpose, duration and dates of the planned stay in the United States, address of the intended residence.

The letter should also contain information about the applicant’s relationship with the inviting party (if they are a relative, friends, business partners, etc.).

The letter should be personal and does not need to be certified by a notary.

Invitation Letter For A Friend To Visit USA With Samples!

How to Get an Invitation Letter from the USA

  • If you want to get an invitation to the US, then you have to request it from a permanent US citizen.
  • By all standards, the writer of this letter should be a fairly reputable personality.
  • Apart from stating the vital reasons for your visit, the sponsor must attach evidence of his financial situation, residential address and other requirements.

If you are unsure of the specific documents that must accompany the letter, seek further clarification from the US Embassy.

Preferably, the earlier you request an invitation letter— the better your visa application.

To save yourself from last-minute inconvenience, request an invitation letter for a visitor visa at least 2 months before your trip.

How to Invite Someone from Nigeria to USA

You may be asking, “How can I bring someone from Nigeria to USA?

I will show you how to invite someone from Nigeria to the USA. But there are few issues we must look at if we want to understand why the US consulate doesn’t trust Nigerians (and other African countries).

Thanks to Nigeria’s humongous population, Nigerians are all over the world, and the US is no different.

The West African country is the home of about 200 million people, as of 2020 — making it the most highly-populated country in the African continent.

On a bad note, Nigeria is synonymous with corruption, terrorism and fraud. On a good note, Nigeria has a fast-growing economy. Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote, is a Nigerian.

Due to the rampancy of terrorism (Boko Haram) and scammers in Nigeria, most American authorities don’t trust Nigerians. In fact, the US government is very strict on its visas for Nigerians.

Why do you think PayPal blacklisted Nigeria, Ghana and other countries? Well, it’s because of past fraud activities.

All these unfortunate events have tightened up US visa requirements for most Africans especially Nigerians and Ghanaians.

In any case, it doesn’t matter at all. Nigerian Americans number in hundreds of thousands. You too can become a Nigerian visitor to the USA, even if you don’t get the coveted Green Card.

Some years ago, we would’ve recommended writing an invitation letter for the visitor. But not anymore. It’s not worth the effort and resources taken to gather the so-called requirements and documents. 

In fact, if there is a way to invite someone from Nigeria to the USA, all the US sponsor can do is help establish the visitor as an independent person. Financially fortified, working and earning a reasonable income back in Nigeria. And then let them apply for a B-2 visitor visa on their own merit. 

Your invitation letter will  only serve as a confidence booster at the port of entry; not a visa guarantee at the consulate.

Since Americans have lost trust in Nigerians, the invitation letters to the consulate serves no purpose – the visitor must establish reliable reasons for the visit by his/her own circumstances.

When the US consular officer does not sense any threat, danger or manipulations, they may issue any Nigerian a visa.

There have been several past instances when some Nigerians entered the US and disappeared from immigration radar. Others also overstayed their welcome.

How to Invite Someone from Ghana to USA

Just like the question of how to invite someone to usa from Nigeria, we also see lots of queries on “How to Invite Someone from Ghana to USA”

The answer is the same for Ghanaians.

No one can get you a Visa. You have to do that yourself by applying at a US Embassy/Consulate in Ghana or your own country. 

The psychology of a visa invitation letter is one questionable reason to visit the United States. If you Give that reason to the visa officer, you will not ever receive a visa. It is important to come up with a more legitimate reason to go to the US.

Like Mr. Nii Ayi, a fellow studying his masters in the UK said, 

“Applicants for B1/B2 Visa place too much importance on these invitation letters, sometimes thinking that is their most valuable piece of supporting document. Wrong.

My experience? I was in the UK studying for my Masters; on Scholarship. I applied and was granted a Visitors’ Visa to the USA without any invitation letter nor stating anybody’s name in the application.

I went to the USA, and returned to the UK after 5 days. I had my thesis to complete!”

  • Nii Ayi, Master of Arts Degree Public Policy, University of Reading (2017)

How to Invite Someone from Kenya to the USA

  • According to the US Embassy in Kenya, the reason for the visit and other factors determine the visa requirements for Kenyans.
  • Kenyans can travel to the US by acquiring immigrant or non-immigrant visas, depending on the circumstances.
  • If you are a US sponsor who wants to invite a Kenyan friend to the US for a temporary visit, then you may write an invitation letter to aid his visa application.

A US citizen who wants to permanently invite a Kenyan to the USA must file an immigration petition by filling the I-130 form.

This is possible if the sponsor is an employer or an immediate relative of the Kenyan.

When the US Immigration and Citizenship Services approve your petition, then the Kenyan can apply for his immigrant visa to the United States.

Permanent American citizens can also write an invitation letter not for the tourist visa application but to present it at port of entry after the visa is granted to a family member.

The most dubious reason to obtain a visa is the invitation letter. You will not be able to obtain a visa if you give that reason to the official. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) and Answers on How to Invite Someone from Africa to the USA

Does the US consulate keep an invitation letter from US sources and verify it?

No consular officer I trained would ever keep and check an invitation letter. Why? Because:
1. We aren’t interviewing a letter; we are interviewing a visa applicant – one of perhaps 100 per officer every day. Time spent studying a piece of paper is time not spent learning about the person.
2. There is no time or need to verify a document that hasn’t been asked for. Many will be bogus anyway, even for genuine nonimmigrants.
3. No letter, however genuine, is legally enforceable.
There is one exception to this rule: some letters are so good, so bad, or so inadvertently hilarious that they might be kept as training tools.
– Kathryn Berck (Retired US Consular)

How to invite someone from another country

No pre-established invitation is needed to enter the US as a third- or even fourth-footed nonimmigrant. Every immigrant must be able-bodied and in a position to explain why he wishes or needs to be in the country at that particular time, and some equally compelling reasons to return home again.
Moreover, every individual will need to stand on his own two feet and present good reasons for wanting to or needing to pay a visit to the United States or for being expected to return afterward.

What documents do I need to invite someone to the USA?

Just as a question asked by one fellow on quora, “If you want to visit the USA, is it best to get an invitation from the people that are inviting you?” – I like this answer from one contributor:
“Invitations are not used for any purpose other than as evidence that you have a friend in the USA who will help you overstay your visa. On that basis, your visa will be denied.
US visitor visas, namely B-1/B-2, do not consider any invitation or any sort of sponsorship, financial or otherwise from any person inside or outside the US, into consideration.
An applicant for such a visa should be able to qualify for this visa on his or her own merit.
Any attempt to show an external support document, will at best do nothing and on the worst, diminish your chances of getting the visa
Yes! And get an itinerary. It must be in English and ideally list where you are staying and any moves you’ll make with your return date. Customs feels much more comfortable when they can see details like this. It should help make things go much easier.”

How do I invite someone to America from Africa?

Invitation is meaningless because USCIS can not arrest you if your friend overstay or applies for asylum. Your friend or relative does not need an invitation. He/she needs to apply for a B-2 tourist visa, that’s it.

Do you need an invitation letter to visit the USA?

Invitation letters are never required from applicants for US tourist visas and are never considered in support of the application since they cannot be enforced.
Invitations are not asked for, wanted, or used EXCEPT to show that the “visitor” may be helped to illegally overstay their visa.

Since that is the #1 US immigration problem by far, on that basis the petition will be denied. You have NO involvement in your friend getting a US visa, says an experienced US visa officer.

Why is an invite worthless? – he continues to ask. 
You cannot invite anyone to come to America and stay. And you cannot sponsor a friend.

Your friend is going to have to apply, and get, a visa all by himself.
Notwithstanding, the United States has a Visa Waiver Program with some countries, including UK, Austria, Denmark, Germany, France, etc…

Visitors from the above countries don’t even need a visa, if they wish to visit the USA for business or tourism, not exceeding 3 months’ stay.
Unfortunately, not a single African country appears on the US visa-waiver list. This means that most Africans can’t enter the United States without a Visa.

Can a green card holder invite someone to the US?

The good news is that US Green Card Holders can invite their spouses to join them in the States. That is different from a B-2 tourist/visitors visa.
However, they can’t sponsor the following class of their family members.
Parents and grandparents
Unmarried children aged more than 21-years

Now it’s your turn…

  • Do you still believe INVITATION LETTERS work today? 
  • Are YOU financially sound with a good income generating job or own businesses?
  • Do you have strong ties to your country that will make you go back after visiting?

If you can convince the consul, then you will get a US visa. 

Please do not abuse that visa. 

This will only make your fellow Africans find it difficult to secure US visas.

What do you think of the assertion that US Tourist B-2 VISAS are granted based on your OWN MERITS and not some external sponsor’s letter or documents?

Let me know your thoughts in the comments area below…

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Nana Santuoh, manages digital web products and leads the editorial team at Kumasiano - a mouthpiece for African and black people while reminiscing their good old days back home.

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