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214(b) Visa Denial: How to Avoid It and Can You Overcome It?
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"Marc was extremely happy as his sister, Adonica, was coming to visit him to United States in three days. Suddenly, the phone rang. Marc could not believe his ears. Adonica, told Marc, “I’m not coming…the consul refused my visa under 214(b). I don’t know what to do.”"

Adonica is not the only one to fall prey to 214b visa denial. On any given day throughout the world, many people will find themselves in Adonica's situation. They hear the consular officer say, "Your visa application is refused. You are not qualified under Section 214(b) of the Immigration and Nationality Act." To hear this when you are not expecting it causes great disappointment and sometimes great embarrassment when you have to change all your plans. For many applicants the consular officer’s pronouncement that they have been denied a visa under INA §214(b) is the first time they have heard of it, and few are sure about the reasons for denial. What does a 214b visa denial mean? And what can you do to prepare for a visa reapplication?

What Is Section 214(b) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA)?

INA Section 214(b), also found in the United States Code at 8 USC 1184(b), states:

  "...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, and the immigration officers, at the time of application for admission, that he is entitled to a nonimmigrant status under section 101(a)(15)."

This simply means that before you can be approved for a nonimmigrant visa, you must prove that you will return to your home country. You must show that you have no intention of abandoning your residence there. The law places the burden of proof on you to prove that you have “strong ties” in your country that would compel you to leave the US at the end of your temporary stay and return home.

Thus, to avoid a 214 b visa denial, applicants must convince the Consular Officer of the following:

  • that they intend to return to their home country after a temporary stay in the United States,
  • that their financial situation is such that they can afford the trip without having to seek unauthorized employment in the U.S., and
  • that the travel is for legitimate purposes permitted by the applicant's visa category.
From the above discussion, one thing is certain: having strong ties with your home country matters a lot when it comes to getting a nonimmigrant visa for United States. At this point I know you must be asking ‘what is meant by having Strong Ties? Why is it important? How to I know if I share a strong bond with my country? What to do if I don’t have a strong tie with my country?.’

Let’s quickly go the answer for your first question, ‘what constitutes strong ties with one’s home?’

What constitutes ‘Strong Ties’?

Actually, there is no standard definition for ‘Strong Ties.’ What constitutes strong ties will differ from country to country, city to city, and individual to individual. "Ties" are the various aspects of your life that bind you to your country of residence: your family and social relationships, employment, and possessions. Some examples of ‘ties’ can be family, a job or business, a house, a bank account, and investments. Each person's situation is different.

Consular officers are trained for and aware of this diversity. During the visa interview they consider professional, social, cultural and other factors each person presents. In cases of younger applicants who may not have had an opportunity to form many ties, consular officers may look at specific intentions, family situations, and long-range plans and prospects within the country of residence.

Why Do Immigration Officers Place Such High Importance on ‘Strong Ties’?

Many people ask this question. It’s very important that you understand the meaning of Strong Ties if you are applying for a visa. The bond that a person shares with his or her country helps the officer determine that the applicant possesses a residence abroad and that they have no intention of abandoning it. In the officer’s point of view, an applicant should have such strong ties with his or her home country that they will compel him or her to leave the US at the end of his or her temporary stay to return home


CASE SCENARIO

Anjou, a young man from central Africa, applied for a visitor visa to travel to the US to visit a younger brother living in Atlanta, GA. He was denied under 214(b) because the consular officer did not think he would be coming back. He had not gone to the interview prepared to address the intending immigrant issues. Anjou went home and gathered documents to show his ties to his home country. When he went in for his next interview he was ready. He had a single sheet that outlined for the consular officer all his reasons for staying, and attached to it all the documents to support his claim. He started out by showing that all of his family lives in his hometown in Africa, except his brother who is attending college in the US. His family owns several pieces of property in Africa. He owns his own business which he started when he graduated from college, and which is doing very well. The business has several employees and will be run by his office manager in his absence. He also owns his own house, and will be getting married early next year. At the interview the consular officer took the package of materials and reviewed them quickly, asked Anjou a few questions about his trip and granted the visa. Preparation paid off for Anjou and at the beginning of the month he will be off to the US to spend a couple of weeks with his brother.


Is a Denial Under Section 214(b) Permanent?

No. A consular officer will reconsider a case if you can show further convincing evidence of ties to your home country. You should contact the embassy or consulate, or look on their website, to find out about reapplication procedures. Unfortunately, some people simply will not be able to show ties to their country and, therefore, will not qualify for a nonimmigrant visa, regardless of how many times they reapply. This will only change when their personal, professional, and financial circumstances change.

What Should You Do In Case of a 214b Visa Denial?

If you were refused a visa under section 214(b), you may reapply. When you do, you will have to show further evidence of your ties or how your circumstances have changed since the time of the original application.

First, carefully review your situation and realistically evaluate your ties. You may want to write down on paper an outline of what qualifying ties you think you have that may not have been properly evaluated at the time of your interview with the consular officer. Also, you should review any documents that were submitted for the consul to consider, and look at what documents could have been presented that weren’t.

It may help to answer the following questions before reapplying:
  1. Did you explain your situation accurately?
  2. Did the consular officer overlook something?
  3. Is there any additional information you can present to establish your residence and strong ties abroad?

Note: You should also be aware that you will be charged a nonrefundable application fee each time you apply for a visa, regardless of whether a visa is issued.

Conclusion

When applying for a nonimmigrant visa you have to be prepared. At your visa interview you have to be ready to present your case to the consular officer in a clear and concise manner. You only have a few minutes to convince the officer that you are a good candidate for a visa. You should have all the points you want to make (ties to your home country) outlined and you should have all your supporting documents in order and ready to present.

Finally, know your travel plans. You should be able to tell the officer without hesitation or faltering the 5 “w”s:

  1. Why are you planning to travel to the US?
  2. When are you planning to travel, and how long do you plan to stay?
  3. Where are you going to stay, and who will you be staying with?
  4. Who are you planning to see while in the US?
  5. What are you planning to do while in the US?
While there is no clear definition of “strong ties” you can be successful if you are prepared. So gather your documents, be confident, and good luck.

VisaPro Attorneys have been training and helping foreign nationals put together the correct documentation for a visa interview. In our experience, the approval rate for foreign nationals with the correct documentation is very high. If you are a foreign national seeking advice on visa denials consult a VisaPro attorney.

Mock Interview 1 (Windows Media File)

Mock Interview 2 (Windows Media File)

Mock Interview 3 (Windows Media File)

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