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Common Reasons for Non-Immigrant US Visa Denials

A nonimmigrant is a non-citizen admitted temporarily to the United States for a specified purpose. The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) sets out many standards under which a visa application may be denied and places the burden on nonimmigrant visa applicants (except for H-1B and L-1) to show that they are not intending immigrants. Section 104(a) of the INA vests the sole authority to approve or deny visa applications with the consular officers at U.S. Embassies and Consulates. Visa denials at different United States Embassies and Consulates are becoming more and more prevalent. This article discusses the nonimmigrant visa denials.

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 consular officer a complete application with all the necessary information or that supporting documentation was missing. This does not mean your visa application has been rejected, but your case is pending further action for one of the following reasons:

  • Your application is incomplete and/or further documentation is required 
  • Administrative processing

Visa Qualifications and Immigrant Intent

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 category he or she applied for, and/or that the applicant has strong ties with his or her home country and did not overcome the presumption of immigrant intent to the US.

Public Charge

A visa refusal, or ineligibility, under section 212(a)(4) of the INA means that the applicant failed to demonstrate sufficient financial support during his/her temporary stay in the United States and the consular officer determined that you are likely to become dependent on the United States government for your existence and financial support known as a public charge. Public charge denials are less frequent for nonimmigrant visa applications but can happen.

 Fraud and Misrepresentation

If you try to obtain a visa by willfully misrepresenting a material fact or committing fraud, then your visa application will be rejected under INA section 212(a)(6)(C)(i). This is permanent ineligibility, so every time you apply for a visa, you will be found ineligible for this reason. If there is a possibility to apply for an ineligibility waiver, then you will be advised by the consular officer.

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 that you were considered to have been unlawfully present in the US.You have either:

  • Stayed in the United States after the expiration date for the period of stay authorized 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 full 10 years after you depart from the US.

If you would like to help plan a strategy on how to deal with this, I suggest you schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys.

By: Staff Attorney