There are a number of reasons why a consular officer may deny a visa application for a tourist/business visitor. Here, we’ll discuss five of the most commonly used reasons to deny a visitor visa application at a U.S. Consulate. These are presented in no particular order. Let’s get into it.
The consular officer wants to see that you will be able to support yourself during your visit. Not only are the funds necessary to cover your flight, lodging, food and general travel expenses, but also reasonable medical expenses should you fall ill while in the U.S. If you either didn’t provide sufficient evidence of your liquidity or you didn’t have access to sufficient funds to cover your trip to the U.S., the consular officer may assume you don’t have sufficient funds to cover the trip.
If you don’t have sufficient funds but you’re visiting someone, and they will be financing your stay, you should provide evidence to prove that. A letter from the person you will be staying with which confirms that they will be housing and feeding you, along with proof that they have access to funds or consistent employment, will help. If you have savings, you can provide the consular officer with a copy of your most recent bank statement. How much money you need to have access to depends upon what you will be doing while in the U.S. For example. if you will be sightseeing and travelling all over the country for a month, you will need more money. If you will be staying with a relative at their home, for the entire duration of your trip, you might need far less money.
You Have Insufficient Ties to Your Home Country
This is a catch all reason for denying a visitor visa application. If you didn’t prove to the satisfaction of a consular officer that you will leave the U.S. when your authorized period of stay is over, the consular officer will deny your request for a visitor visa. You must be able to prove that you will not overstay in the U.S.
Visa applicants who do not have a stable job outside the U.S. will have a hard time obtaining a visitor visa unless they are, for example, retired or a student. Consular officers also want to see evidence that you have obligations outside the U.S. which would require you to leave the States in a timely fashion. For example, a job, family members who depend on you (spouse, children, elderly parents etc.), a mortgage or even a business.
Even if you provide evidence of employment, family and investments in your home country, a consular officer may still deny your visitor visa application. There is a very low threshold to deny this visa request. If the consular officer is not confident that you will leave the U.S., they can simply deny your application under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) Section 214(b). INA § 214(b) applies to certain nonimmigrant visa applicants, including visitor visa applicants. A visitor visa applicant such as yourself is presumed to have immigrant intent — that is, intent to stay in the U.S. — right off the bat. So, a consular officer already thinks you plan to enter the U.S. and overstay, long before you step up to the window for your interview. Therefore, it’s your job to prove to the consular officer that you will leave the U.S. when you’re supposed to.
You Previously Violated Immigration Law
If you have previously entered the U.S. and violated immigration law or even attempted to enter the U.S. illegally, you may require a waiver to re-enter. Depending upon your past violation, you may be barred from re-entering for a decade or more, or even permanently. If you’re not barred from re-entering and/or do not require a waiver but you simply overstayed less than six months, you still don’t inspire confidence from the consular officer’s perspective. Even if you have overstayed in the U.S. for a brief period of time and you don’t have a justifiable reason for your overstay, an immigration officer is unlikely to approve your visitor visa. However, if many years have passed since your previous indiscretion, you may have a better chance of success.
You Have a Criminal History
Not all crimes make a foreign national ineligible for a visa. However, the types of crimes that can make a person inadmissible to the U.S. are broad and are often perceived by many as unfair. Crimes committed in your youth can come back to bite you in later years. U.S. immigration law tends to judge a foreign national who has committed a criminal act with extreme prejudice. Certain crimes can be waived. Others cannot. It is also important to note that a foreign national who admits to having committed a certain crime even if they have never been convicted of that crime can also be inadmissible. Therefore, U.S. immigration law does not require a conviction to find someone inadmissible. Even minor crimes, or crimes which may seem inconsequential in other countries, can have devastating consequences for U.S immigration purposes. Criminal immigration law is highly complex, and we haven’t even cracked the surface of this area of our immigration practice in this article. If you have any criminal history, whether you were convicted or not, you should seek counsel from an experienced immigration attorney before applying for any immigration benefit.
You Didn’t Plan Your Trip Properly
Consular officers like to see a well thought out itinerary for the activities you will be participating in during your stay in the U.S. For example, if you’re coming to visit Disney World, provide evidence of your pre-bookings for the hotel, car rental and theme parks. If you’ll be coming to perform typical touristy activities, have it planned out. For example, where you’ll be going, what monuments you’ll be visiting, where you will be staying and the duration of your visit in each location. If you will be attending business meetings, provide documentation to support who you will be meeting with, where you’ll be meeting, and which company you’ll be representing. If you will be attending a conference, provide proof of your enrollment, hotel booking and any car rental reservations.
If you have a vague idea and plan to improvise or rely on spontaneity, that can make for an exciting trip, but it will leave the consular officer unconvinced of your true intentions in the U.S. If your trip does not inspire confidence, a consular officer might just deny your visa application rather than give you the benefit of the doubt. As the old adage goes, “preparation is the mother of success.” For your best chance at success, seek counsel from an experienced immigration attorney before you apply.
Sunil C. Patel is an experienced immigration attorney and himself a first-generation immigrant. Formerly a managing attorney with a multinational immigration and corporate law firm, he now focuses his practice exclusively in immigration law at his own law firm, Sunil C. Patel Immigration Law, LLC. Sunil welcomes inquiries from new clients. To schedule a consultation, please call (770) 756-6056 or visit www.sunpatlaw.com. You can also schedule an appointment by selecting an available time on his calendar.