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The Employment Verification Letter, Explained

How to request proof of employment for visa or green card applications

What is an Employment Verification Letter?

An employment verification letter (EVL) is generally requested by an organization, such as a bank or landlord, to verify your current (or previous) job status and other details about your employment. The letter can also serve as supporting evidence for immigration purposes, such as when you’re applying for a green card or other visa.

Known by other terms — for example, “experience letter,” “proof of employment letter,” or “verification of employment” (VOE) — this letter should not be confused with the Employment Authorization Document, or EAD, commonly known as the “work permit.”

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Boundless helps you avoid common problems, such as forgetting to include an important supporting document (like the employment verification letter) or placing it in the wrong section of the application package, which can cause delays or even denial. Learn more about what Boundless can do to help.

When an EVL is Needed

An employment verification letter is often required as evidence in immigration applications. Common situations include:

Applying for a green card

If you’re the sponsoring family member (the U.S. citizen or green card holder) on a family or marriage green card application, you’ll need to submit a financial support form (Form I-864, officially called the “Affidavit of Support”) to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). This form proves that you have sufficient financial resources to support the relative seeking a green card.

With this form, it’s important to provide supporting financial documents, such as an individual federal income-tax return, forms W-2 or 1099 (whichever is applicable), pay stubs (if employed), and an employment verification letter. The letter is especially important if you’ve recently switched jobs or if you’re combining your income with your spouse.

Self-employed green card sponsors

Immigration officers primarily rely on a sponsoring relative’s individual federal income-tax return for evaluating a family-based or marriage-based green card application, but some situations call for additional evidence to prove your eligibility to sponsor. This is especially true if you’re self-employed.

If you can’t provide a Form W-2 as financial evidence because you’re a business owner or an independent contractor, USCIS will still require an employment verification letter. You, however, must draft and sign the letter yourself. It generally should include the same information that would appear in a standard employment verification letter from an employer (see below for more details). Some applicants choose to have the letter notarized, since the letter would be coming from you personally, but this is not required by USCIS.

Keep in mind that self-employed sponsors are often required to submit significantly more supporting evidence than would otherwise be necessary with a letter from a traditional employer. This additional evidence can include proof of your business’ existence (such as a state business registration or business bank account documents), contracts with clients, payment receipts from clients, and a corporate income-tax return.

Applying for a tourist visa

A B-2 visitor visa allows a traveler from another country to enter the United States temporarily as a tourist. When applying for this visa, USCIS will want to make sure that you:

  • Have solid ties and will return to your home country after visiting the United States.
  • Have the ability to financially support yourself during your trip to the United States.

An employment verification letter can prove that you’re employed in your home country and therefore have a job waiting for you upon your return. It can also prove that you earn an income through your employment, which will allow you to financially support yourself while you’re touring the United States. (Boundless has more details on proving strong connections with your home country and sufficient resources.)

Applying for a work visa

There are multiple types of visas that allow people from other countries to work in the United States. Among these are the H-1B visa and the L-1A/L-1B intracompany transfer visa. For each of these visa categories, the purpose of the employment verification letter will be slightly different, but the focus of both letters should be your job experience.

Although not all H-1B visa applications require prior experience, USCIS will want to see your employment history. Evidence of this commonly includes your résumé or CV (curriculum vitae) but also an employment verification letter. In the L category, on the other hand, your eligibility for the visa not only depends on your ability to perform the duties of the position you seek, but also a minimum of one year’s experience prior to applying.

Applying for an employment-based green card

An employment-based green card generally requires an employment verification letter. Your eligibility for this type of green card strongly depends on your work experience, especially if the prospective employer indicates that past experience for the job is required.

Often more detailed and technical than an employment verification letter for a B-1 or B-2 visa, for example, the letter for an employment-based green card must describe your previous responsibilities in your previous jobs, in addition to your titles and dates of employment. The information in the letter is critical and can often mean the difference between approval and denial of your green card.

Applying for a temporary business visa

B-1 visas are intended for “Temporary Business Visitors” to the United States with (as you can guess) business-related purposes. Those purposes, however, may not involve doing actual work or receiving a salary from a U.S. source. Business visitors often come to attend meetings and seminars, negotiate contracts with business associates, appear as a guest speaker or lecturer, participate in training, or to purchase goods or property.

With a B-1 visa, you will need an employment verification letter to confirm your job status with your employer abroad and to describe the activities you’ll be participating in while in the United States. The letter should clearly state that you’re entering the United States only for a short visit, solely to engage in the activities described in the letter, and that you will not be working for or receiving payment from a U.S. source.

What the Letter Should Say

Although there’s no specific format required for the employment verification letter, it’s important to include the required details that the government needs to see. Some letters will require more detail than others, depending on the situation. But much of the information will generally be the same. It’s also important to ensure the accuracy of the letter — especially when submitting it as proof on a green card or visa application — to avoid delays or denial.

The letter should be written on your employer’s letterhead (or your own, if you’re self-employed), and should include the following key information (see below for templates):

  • Date the letter was written (must be within the previous 3 months prior to filing the green card application — the closer to the filing date, the better)
  • Dates of your employment (start and end dates)
  • Your job title
  • Your employment classification (full-time, part-time, temporary, contract, or other)
  • Your annual compensation (salary or wage)
  • A description of your responsibilities, if applicable (see “When It’s Needed” above for situations that commonly require this information)
  • A signature line showing the drafter’s signature, full printed name, and official title

Furlough or unemployment due to COVID-19 pandemic

If you’ve been furloughed or laid off due to the pandemic, the U.S. government will look for official documentation (notice) from your employer showing the date the notice was given, your name, your employer’s name, and date you expect to return to work, if applicable.

How to Request the Letter

There are different ways to request an employment verification letter from a current or former employer:

  • Ask your supervisor or manager. This is often the easiest way to request the letter. Just make sure to provide full details and context.
  • Contact Human Resources. Some companies have formal processes that require going through the human resources department.
  • Get a template from the company or organization requesting the letter. Sometimes, the people requesting the letter will provide their own template because it contains specific information they want. (USCIS does not provide a template for immigration applications.)
  • Use an employment verification service. If it’s particularly difficult to get the letter from your employer, it may be easier to use a service that sends them your request. Some companies also use these services to streamline these types of processes. Ask your employer if the company is registered with a service like InVerify (provides a specific employment verification letter for immigration purposes) or The Work Number.

Boundless can help you avoid common pitfalls in the immigration process with unlimited support from our team of immigration experts. Learn more.