What does it mean when a US consular officer says,

"Your visa application is refused. You are not qualified under Section 214(b) of the Immigration and Nationality Act."

Section 214(b) of the United States Immigration and Nationality Act states that: "Every alien shall be presumed to be an immigrant until he establishes to the satisfaction of the consular officer, at the time of application for a visa that he is entitled to non-immigrant status" This means that most visa applicants* must convince the Consular Officer of the following:

  • that he or she intends to return to his or her home country following a temporary stay in the United States,
  • that his or her financial situation is such that he or she can afford the trip without having to seek unauthorized employment in the U.S.,
  • that the travel is for legitimate purposes permitted by the applicant's visa category.

Applicants overcome this presumption of immigrant intent by showing that their overall circumstances, including social, family, economic and other ties to home country, will compel them to leave the U.S. at the end of a temporary visit or study. "Ties" are the various aspects of life that bind you to your home country, such as your family relationships, employment and possessions. In the case of younger applicants who may not have had an opportunity to establish such ties, U.S. law considers educational status, school grades and long-range plans in their home country. As each person's situation is different, there is no single criteria that shows compelling ties to home country.

*Major exceptions: H1-B, H-4, L-1, L-2, R-1, R-2 visas.

Is a Denial Under Section 214(b) Permanent?

No. The consular officer will reconsider a case if an applicant can show further convincing evidence of ties outside the United States. Contact the embassy or consulate to find out about reapplication procedures. Unfortunately, some applicants will not qualify for a nonimmigrant visa, regardless of how many times they reapply, until their personal, professional, and financial circumstances change considerably.

Once an officer has determined that an applicant does not qualify for a visa, the applicant should not re-apply unless there are significant changes in the applicant's circumstances or information, which was not presented during the first interview. Applicants wanting to reapply need to schedule a new appointment. However, applicants providing the same information a second time after a previous refusal will be highly unlikely to succeed in obtaining a visa during the second interview.

Misconceptions

One common misconception about section 214(b) ineligibilities is that qualifying for a visa is just a matter of providing more documents. As has been noted above, a visa decision is not simply based on documents. Rather, the visa interview itself is critical. The required documents allow you to apply for a visa and help the consulate make a proper decision based on the given information. No one document or information guarantees visa eligibility.

Student Refusals

Some students are confused when, after presenting a Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status (I-20) from their chosen school in the U.S., they are ineligible for a student visa. Just as with visitors, Section 214(b) requires students to show that they intend to leave the U.S. after they finish their studies. An I-20 is one of several documents that allow you to apply for a student visa, but cannot guarantee your eligibility. Students may be ineligible if it appears that their primary purpose is not to obtain an education that will advance their life in his/her home country, but will facilitate an indefinite stay in the U.S. for themselves or their family.

Visa Consulting

Some ineligible applicants seek help from a "visa consultant". Be careful. If you do decide to hire a consultant, remember that you alone are responsible for the accuracy of the information in your application.

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