Visa denials can be frustrating and confusing. You might be wondering why your application for a U.S. visitor visa was refused and whether there's some way to present more evidence to change the consular officer's mind. While current practices at U.S. consulates and embassies do not allow an application to be reconsidered, there are steps you can take to better understand why the consular officer denied your visa and decide when the time is right to apply again.
The most important thing to do after a visa denial is to understand the reasons for it. Applicants are usually given a denial letter at the end of the visa interview, which contains information that can help in determining what went wrong.
Don't be surprised if the letter says that your visa was refused under Immigration and Nationality Act (I.N.A.) Section 214(b) (8 U.S.C. Section 1184 (b)). It's a common reason for refusal, meaning that the consular officer was not convinced that you would return to your home country after your visit to the United States. Fortunately, this is not a permanent refusal; you might qualify for a visa in the future, if you can show stronger financial and social ties to your home country (as detailed later in this article).
There might, however, be a more serious reason for your visa denial. Check on whether the consular letter you received lists any other section of the law as the reason for denial. Common bases for visa ineligibility include prior deportations, undocumented presence in the U.S., and criminal convictions, but there are many others.
See Why Was My U.S. Visitor Visa Renewal Denied? for more detailed information.
Some types of visa ineligibility last for a certain number of years, while others are permanent. You'll want to look carefully at the section of the law under which you were denied, or hire an attorney to analyze this for you.
Waivers of ineligibility might be available in some situations, but only if the consular officer recommends the waiver and you have demonstrated strong enough ties to your home country to qualify for the visa. Waivers are not usually approved for recent or serious offenses.
If you are still confused about why your visa was denied or for how long you're ineligible, or are not clear on whether your visa was in fact denied, you might be able to get clarification by contacting the U.S. embassy or consulate.
Many U.S. consular sections have a public inquiry email address. This can usually be found on the official U.S. embassy or consulate website. If not, call the public phone number for the consular section and request the public inquiry email address.
If you were invited to the U.S. by a U.S. company, the company can also make an email inquiry, at [email protected]
If you think your visa renewal was unjustly denied, it could be helpful to contact an immigration attorney, especially if you need to travel to the U.S. frequently for business. Because of the complexity of U.S. immigration law, an attorney in the U.S. might be your best bet, as opposed to one in your home country.
A U.S.-based attorney might get a faster and more thorough response from the embassy as to why your visa was denied than you could on your own. Attorneys representing visa applicants have access to channels of inquiry with the State Department reserved solely for them. At a minimum, an attorney might be able to give you more accurate information as to why your visa was denied and advise you whether it's worth applying again, and when you should do so.
Many U.S. embassies and consulates advise applicants to wait at least a year before reapplying for a visa, though it is not mandatory. This is because it's unlikely that your situation will change enough in less than a year to alter the outcome of a visa decision.
U.S. consular officers mainly rely on the application and interview when deciding whether to approve a visa. Still, well-organized supporting documents might help demonstrate your financial stability at your next interview.
Think about how you might show your financial stability if you were to apply for a mortgage; it's very similar. Establish and use your bank account, both checking and savings. Be aware that a large one-time deposit does not show long-term financial stability.
If you are paid for your work in cash, start depositing that money regularly into your account, as proof of income. This is especially important if you're self-employed. If you are employed by someone else, make sure the employment letter you take to your next visa interview accurately reflects all your earnings, including overtime.
Just don't overdo it: Most U.S. consular sections advise against bringing too many documents to your interview. Check the website for the U.S. consular section where you will be applying for details. Also check your appointment letter for any added, country-specific requirements.
Most importantly, never present fraudulent or altered documents to support your visa application. This could result in permanent visa ineligibility. If you don't have a particular document, it is better to present nothing.
If you're frustrated at a lack of financial documents, you might also want to think honestly about your situation. Will a trip to the U.S. actually cause you financial hardship? Are other family members financing your trip? If so, consider waiting until your situation improves before you apply for another visa.
Unfortunately, U.S. consular officers have met many applicants with decent incomes and extensive family ties outside the U.S. who nevertheless overstayed their permitted time in the United States.
When you reapply for a B-2 or B-2 visitor visa, the consular officer will probably look at the notes taken at your last visa interview. The officer might ask you only to discuss what has changed in your situation since then.
Be prepared to explain, for example, that you've since graduated university, gotten a promotion, or developed a different purpose for your intended travel.
If you happen to be interviewed by the same officer who refused your visa before, and you don't think the officer was thorough or adequately explained your denial, you might ask for a different officer (at the beginning of your interview.) This request might not be granted, but if you truly think the officer did not give you a fair shake, it won't hurt to politely ask.