Who Will Never Be Allowed a U.S. Visitor or Other Temporary Visa

Applicants for tourist, student, or other temporary U.S. visas who are inadmissible might not, in all cases, be able to apply for a waiver.

By , J.D.

Are you applying for a nonimmigrant, or temporary visa to the U.S.—perhaps a B-2 tourist, F-1 student, H-1B specialty worker, or some other? Even if you meet the minimum eligibility requirements, you can be denied the visa if you are found "inadmissible" to the United States. A person may be inadmissible for various health, financial, criminal, security, or other grounds, summarized in, Inadmissibility: When the U.S. Can Keep You Out.

How to Overcome Inadmissibility as a Nonimmigrant Visa Applicant

It is possible to overcome a finding of inadmissibility in many situations. First, you might qualify for an exception that's written into the law or regulations.

Second, the law allows some applicants to apply for a "waiver," or legal forgiveness of the ground of inadmissibility. See Applying for a Nonimmigrant Visa (Hranka) Waiver for details.

Waivers are available for most of the grounds of inadmissibility faced by nonimmigrant visa applicants—most likely because the U.S. government knows that you will be leaving within a short time.

Who Cannot Apply for a Waiver of Inadmissibility at All

Not everyone nonimmigrant visa applicant can apply for a waiver of their inadmissibility. As a matter of law, nonimmigrant visa applicants are not eligible for a waiver if they are inadmissible because they:

  • are suspected of intending to commit espionage, sabotage, or prohibited export of sensitive technology or information
  • participated in Nazi persecutions or genocide
  • are presumed to intend to remain in the U.S. as permanent immigrants
  • have knowingly made a frivolous application for asylum
  • have been involved in political killings, or
  • have previously overstayed a U.S. visa (except in extraordinary circumstances).

The good news is, this list is a lot shorter than the one faced by applicants for a U.S. green card (lawful permanent residence). (If you are one of those applicants, you should not be reading this article; refer instead to Which Green-Card Inadmissibility Grounds Cannot Be Waived.)

Nevertheless, if you hope to receive a nonimmigrant U.S. visa and you meet one of the above descriptions, chances are you will not qualify for it. It would not, however, be wise to form any conclusions based on this list alone. U.S. immigration law is extremely complex, containing numerous exceptions and detailed definitions.

Consult with an experienced U.S. immigration attorney for a full, personal analysis of your potential eligibility for a waiver of inadmissibility or U.S. visa.

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