The United States of America have a very detailed and specific visa policy, according to the standards of which applications are approved or rejected. Each application is carefully reviewed and in general, most of the applicants are interviewed by a consul. The process is very strict and to many, it may sound frustrating and hard. Especially in cases of visa refusal, when the applicant remains disappointed and confused on what to do next.
However, the US has a very clear law regarding visa policy where each visa type, requirements and visa application process, are explained in a detailed way. The Immigration & Nationality Act also has special sections explaining the reasons why an application might get rejected.
Common Reasons for US Visa Denials – Ineligibilities
Under US immigration law section 104(a) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, consular officers at U.S. Embassies and Consulates have the sole authority to approve or deny visa application. Usually, each embassy or consulate of the US around the globe, in case of visa denial, shows to the applicant the section of law based on which his / her application has been rejected.
Often, applicants are advised by the consular officer to apply for a waiver of their ineligibility, if applicable in their case. The ineligibilities (reasons for visa denials) might be temporary or permanent. Those with temporary ineligibilities can re-apply for a visa in case they overcome them. Whereas, those with permanent ineligibility can only re-apply in case a waiver of that ineligibility is authorized by the Department of Homeland Security.
The most common reasons behind visa application denials are as follows:
- Incomplete Application or Supporting Documentation
- Visa Qualifications and Immigrant Intent
- Public Charge
- Fraud and Misrepresentation
- Unlawful Presence in the United States
Incomplete Application or Supporting Documentation
A visa denial under INA section 221(g) means that the applicant did not present to the consul a complete application with all the necessary information, or that supporting documentation was missing. This actually does not mean that your application has been totally rejected, since you still have the chance to correct your mistake and provide the embassy with the missing information or supporting documents before a final decision on your case is taken.
Upon getting informed that your application is incomplete, you will receive a letter that will tell you the exact reason for being found ineligible and what document or information is missing. You will have a one year period of time to submit them, since if not, your case will be dismissed and you will have to apply again from the beginning, including paying a new visa fee.
Under this section, the embassy or consulate might also decide to process your application further, which means they will conduct further security checks or investigation, often through another agency. Most of the administrative processing is resolved within 60 days after the visa interview. However, if the case is forwarded to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) or some other agency, it might take several months to complete.
Visa Qualifications and Immigrant Intent
Only applicants of nonimmigrant visa categories can be rejected under this section of visa law. The denial of a visa application under INA section 214(b) means that the applicant failed to convince the consular officer that he or she qualifies for the nonimmigrant visa he or she applied for, and also that the applicant has strong ties with his or her home country and does not intend to immigrate to the US.
When it comes to strong ties, the applicant can best prove that he / she does not intend to stay in the US if he / she:
- has a job
- is married / engaged / in a relationship
- has property (house, land, etc.) in his / her home country
- has children (to whom the applicant is the legal tutor)
- has good relations with family members and friends
The applicant cannot appeal for this ineligibility. However, since it is not permanent, the applicant might reapply if he / she considers that there are significant changes in their circumstances. In case of reapplication the visa fee should be paid again, and another appointment for a new interview must be scheduled.
A visa application rejected under section 212(a)(4) of the INA means that the consular officer decided you were very likely to become dependent on the US government for your existence and financial support once in the US, which is else called a “Public Charge”.
Since this is not a permanent ineligibility, it can be overcome in certain circumstances.
Persons who apply for an Immigrant Visa
Immigrant visa applicants who were denied entry to the US under INA section 212(a)(4), can still re-apply for a visa if they are able to submit an Affidavit of Support from a qualifying sponsor. This is a document through which a US resident takes over the responsibility to financially maintain an immigrant during his or her stay in the US. The Affidavit of Support should be accompanied by bank statements or pay slips of the sponsor that show he / she is capable of financially supporting you.
Some visa categories do not require an Affidavit of Support, therefore you will have to prove that you will not become a financial burden to the US government, through:
- Your own funds (you will have to prove you have enough money through a bank statement, pay slips and other ways.)
- A job offer in the US
However the submission of the above mentioned will not guarantee you the issuance of a visa, since the consular official will decide whether the financial support evidence you submit is sufficient to overcome your ineligibility.
Persons who apply for a non-Immigrant Visa
Whereas, the nonimmigrant visa applicants who were denied entry to the US under INA section 212(a)(4) have to prove that they are capable of financing themselves during their stay in the US. The consular officer will again check your documents and decide whether you have sufficient funds to overcome your ineligibility or not.
Fraud and Misrepresentation
If you try to obtain a visa by falsely representing facts or committing a fraud, then your visa application will be rejected under INA section 212(a)(6)(C)(i). If you try to hide the fact you have relatives in the US, or you have been convicted of committing crimes in the past, this is considered fraud. This is a permanent ineligibility, therefore you will not be issued a visa no matter how many times you apply.
If there is a possibility to apply for an ineligibility waiver, then the consular officer will advise you to do so.
Unlawful Presence in the United States
If you were refused permission to enter the US under INA section 212(a)(9)(B)(i) then this means that the reason behind the visa denial is because you were considered to have been unlawfully present in the US.
You have either:
- Stayed in the US after your authorized period of stay expired and you did not extend your stay, or
- You entered and stayed in the US without obtaining the required authorization from the Customs and Border Protection
If you have been unlawfully present in the US for more than 180 days but less than a year, then you will not be able to get a visa for three years after your departure. On the other hand, if you have illegally stayed in the US for more than a year, then you will be unable to obtain a visa for a period of full 10 years after your departure from the US.
Aside of the aforementioned reasons for being found ineligible for a visa to the US there are also other ineligibilities as follows:
The following categories of people that have health-related issues are ineligible to obtain a visa to the US:
- An applicant who is determined to have a communicable disease of public health significance,
- An applicant who has a physical or mental disorder and behavior associated with the disorder that may pose, or has posed, a threat to the property, safety, or welfare of the himself/ herself or others, and which behavior is likely to happen again or to lead to other harmful behavior,
- An applicant who is determined to be a drug abuser or addict.
Criminal and related grounds
Any foreigner who has ever been committed for criminal activity, murder, drug trafficking, human trafficking, genocide, money laundering etc., is considered as ineligible to enter the United States. There is a detailed list with clear explanations for every crime that makes applicants ineligible for a US visa.
Security and related grounds
Any foreigner considered by a consular officer or the Attorney General, as a risk to the security of the United States will be refused entry. If the authorities suspect that the applicant is trying to get to the US to perform illegal activities as violating the law, trying to control or overthrow the government or involve in terrorist activities.
The below categories are also ineligible:
- Foreigners coming to the US to practice polygamy,
- A guardian accompanying an inadmissible person,
- A foreigner who supports Abductors,
- As well as former citizens who renounced citizenship to avoid taxation.
The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) allows applicants who were denied a visa for a particular ineligibility, to apply for a waiver of that ineligibility. If approved, the applicant might obtain the US visa. However, it is up to the Department of Homeland Security to decide whether to approve a waiver for each particular visa applicant or not.
Each applicant is informed about their ineligibility and whether they can apply for a waiver, upon their visa refusal. The consular officer will also give directions how to apply for a waiver. In general, in order to get the waiver approved one must fulfill the following conditions:
- Have an ineligibility for which there is a waiver.
- Have only one particular ineligibility, aside of which be fully qualified for the visa.
- Applicants for a nonimmigrant visa should also be recommended by the consular officer to the DHS for a waiver.
- Applicants for migrant visas should make sure that the waiver applies particularly to their situation.
Reapplying for a U.S Visa in Case of a Rejection
In case your ineligibility that was found during your first application is considered to be temporary, then you can re-apply for a visa if you consider that your circumstances have changed. The consular officer will decide whether you are eligible for the visa or not.
If your ineligibility is found permanent, but the consular officer considers that everything else is okay with your application and advises you to apply for a visa waiver then you still have a chance to get a visa.
Visa Fee Refunding
When the visa application of the foreigner wishing to obtain a visa to enter the US is refused, the applicant will not get back the money he or she paid for his application fee. In case of reapplication then the fee has to be repaid, too.