Letters of Invitation & Developing Contacts Abroad

A letter of invitation is an expression of interest from a host institution outside of the United States. Applicants include the letter of invitation with their application to the Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program.

Some awards require letters of invitation; others prefer such letters; while some specifically ask that no contact be made with potential hosts. Consult the award and/or country program description in the Catalog of Awards for special instructions regarding letters of invitation and any other special instructions as to format, etc.

An explanation of the language in the Catalog of Awards:

  • "A letter of invitation is required" – An application will not be considered eligible until a letter of invitation is submitted. If an invitation letter is not provided by the application deadline, your application may not proceed in the review process.
  • "A letter of invitation is preferred" – Applicants are encouraged to obtain and submit a letter of invitation. Those without a letter may be at a disadvantage during peer review.
  • "A letter of invitation is optional" – Applicants are able to submit a letter of invitation. The letter of invitation or absence of a letter of invitation will have no impact during the peer review process.
  • "A letter of invitation should not be sought" – Applicants should not seek a letter of invitation

How to request an invitation letter:
Once a host is identified, write to him/her directly. Include a copy of your curriculum vitae and a description of the activities you will want to pursue.

If the contact agrees that there is a match between you and the host institution, you may request a letter of invitation from your contact. Be aware that anyone who provides an applicant an invitation letter cannot be a referee for the same applicant.

Note: A single institution is free to send letters of invitation to multiple candidates, so be aware that a letter is not a legally binding pledge, nor does it guarantee an applicant an award.

Invitation requirements

There are no specific requirements for such letters, unless specified in the award description. The letter might include:

  • the activities for which you are being invited by the host (i.e., research at an institution, special lecturing needs, etc.)
  • the period of time for which you are invited
  • A description of the host’s interest in the applicant’s project and how it will benefit the host institutions.

Invitation letters should be in English. If the letter is not in English, you must include an English translation with it in your application.

  • File type: Adobe PDF (recommended) or Word document

If your invitation is expected to arrive after the application deadline, consult the IIE program staff for your award.

Developing Contacts Abroad
If you do not have contacts in your country of interest, IIE has some recommendations:

  • Use the resources on your home campus:
    • The international office on your campus or its library
    • International students and faculty, as well as area studies faculty, on your campus who may know people in your discipline in other countries
    • Colleagues who have gone abroad
    • Current and former Fulbright Scholars.
  • The award description may list host institutions or even specific people to contact at the host institution. IIE program officers may have leads; contact the appropriate program officer for the country that interests you.
  • The international division of your professional organization may have information about the status of your discipline and the educational system in other countries, as well as names of people who could serve as contacts or direct you to others who could.
  • Area Studies Research Centers funded by Title VI of the Department of Education Professional journals in your field. Look for authors from the country you are interested in. 
Posted: 2/7/2019