US Visa Refusal, Denial and Reapplication

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My US visa was rejected! Why?

There could be several reasons for a visa refusal, denial, or rejection. In the instance that the consulate refuses or denies your US visa, you may receive a form with a refusal clause/reason, such as a 221g (administrative processing) or 214b (refusal) form.

What is a visa refusal?

As per the U.S. immigration and visa law guidelines, a visa must be denied if the applicant cannot establish his or her eligibility, either because the application does not meet the requirements of an established visa category, or because there are grounds for ineligibility based on other aspects of their visa case. A visa refusal is the formal denial of a non-immigrant visa application by a U.S. consular officer acting pursuant to the Immigration and Nationality Act. More information about visa refusals may be found at

How do I overcome a visa refusal?

Some visa refusals can be overcome by providing additional information that establishes an applicant’s eligibility for the visa. If you believe you have more information and evidence that can help a visa officer to make a decision in your favor, you should reapply for the visa with all the information and supporting documents.

Other than the submitted documents, it is up to consular officers at U.S. embassies and consulates to determine eligibility on an individual basis on the merits of each case.

Most of the case refusals (221g) can be due to missing documents or the requirement of additional information by the consulate. See a sample of 221g document.

Applicants are refused under Section 214(b) if they are unable to demonstrate to the satisfaction of a consular officer that they have sufficiently strong and long-term family, social, and economic ties outside the United States, which will make them leave the United States and return home after a temporary stay.
See a sample of a 214b letter of refusal document.

Consular officers tend to focus on factors that help them determine whether the applicant possess compelling ties to their home country. Some of these factors include:

  • If the applicant has traveled to the U.S. previously, how long did they stay? If they stayed longer than 6 months, did they have the USCIS approval to do so? (Note: applicants should bring their USCIS extension approval notices to their interview).
  • If the applicant has traveled to the U.S. previously, how long have they been back in their home country?
  • How many children and grandchildren does the applicant have back in their home country?
  • Have the applicant’s relatives in the U.S. ever returned to their home country to visit their families, as is normal for foreign students, workers, and residents in the U.S.?
  • Is the applicant active professionally in their home country? If so, what is their income and the nature of their work?

The answers to these questions relate to whether applicants can fulfill the statutory requirement of the Immigration and Nationality Act to show that they have a permanent residence in their home country.
Each case is different and a consular officer will evaluate each visa application on its own merits according to visa laws and procedures.

Often, older applicants (mostly visiting parents) do not understand why their applications to return to the U.S. a second time are denied, even though the USCIS approved an extension of stay during their previous visit. Usually, these applicants stayed in the U.S. for a year or more and have been back in home country only a short while. Under these circumstances, the applicants have great difficulty establishing that they have compelling social or professional obligations in their home country, thereby making them ineligible to receive another visa.

What do I do if my application for a visa has been refused?

Generally, you should receive a refusal letter. This will explain the reason why they are unable to issue you with a visa and provide information on the procedures you should follow to rectify the situation.

Can you reapply? And when?

Yes, you can apply again as many times as you want, and can reapply as soon as you rectify the reasons why your visa application was denied in the first place.

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What are strong ties?

Strong ties differ from country to country, city to city, and individual to individual. “Ties” are the various aspects of a person’s life that binds them to their country or residence: possessions, employment, and social or family relationships. Some examples of ties can be a person’s job and income, a house or apartment, a car, close family relationships, bank accounts, etc.

Such ties may include business, employment, family, property or other connections which satisfy a consular officer that the applicant will leave the United States voluntarily after a temporary visit. For example, you may bring a letter from your current employer, on a letterhead, with your position/job title, length of employment, and monthly salary and your three most recent month’s bank statements.

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 their home country. Each case is examined individually and is accorded every consideration under the law.

Consular officers are trained to look at each application individually and consider professional, social, cultural and other factors.

Is a denial under section 214(b) permanent?

No. If an applicant has new information which was not presented to the interviewing officer at the time of the first application, or if the applicants overall circumstances have changed significantly since the last application, a visa may be approved.

See a Sample of 214b letter of refusal document.

Do refused applicants have to wait three to six months before reapplying?

There is no time restriction on resubmitting an application after a refusal. If additional information or supporting documentation is available which may further demonstrate applicant’s qualification for a visa, an application may be resubmitted.

I presented all the documents I was told to bring, but my application was still rejected. What else should I bring?

In this case, the issue is likely not the documents. Rather, the applicant’s current overall situation (as supported by those documents) was not adequate to overcome the presumption that he or she is an intending immigrant. Remember, U.S. law says that all applicants for nonimmigrant visas are an intending immigrant until they show that their overall circumstances would be adequate to compel them to return home after visiting the U.S.

Why are the visa interviews so short? I was refused after only a couple of questions and the interviewer hardly looked at my documents.

Visa officers handle thousands of applications every year. Based on this, they are able to quickly review the application form and supporting documents in order to narrow the amount of questions that may need to be asked. Keep in mind, much of the necessary information required to make a decision is already supplied on the application form itself, so there is usually no need for the officer to ask more than a few additional questions.

When I applied for a visa, I told the officer I would return to my home country after a short stay in the US. Why didn’t the officer believe me?

Visa officers are required to evaluate the applicants overall situation in reaching a decision. A statement indicating that the applicant intends to return to their home country is helpful, but under the requirements of U.S. law, the statement alone is not adequate to show that they qualify for a visa. They must also show strong ties to their home country.

If my visa application is denied, would it help to have a high ranking official like a congressmen/senator contact the consulate?

No. United States law assigns the responsibility for issuance or refusal of visas to consular officers overseas. They have the final say on all visa cases. Additionally, United States law is designed to insulate the decisions in visa cases from outside influences. An applicant can influence a reversal of a prior denial only through presentation of new convincing evidence of strong ties.

Should I use a travel agent or other advisor to help me apply?

This matter is a personal decision for each applicant. However, in most cases, it is not necessary for applicants to hire a travel agent to assist with a visa application. Travel agents will often charge to fill out forms, which are otherwise available for free. They also charge large sums on the promise of enabling the traveler to bypass the visa interview. Our experience shows that many applicants are coached by intermediaries to provide answers which are misleading. While the truthful answer would not have harmed the application, the discovery of a misleading answer often puts the entire application in doubt.

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.

Sample References



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