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U.S. Department of State 
95/06/01 Visas:  Visa Denials 
Bureau of Consular Affairs 
 
 
 
                                 VISA DENIALS 
 
Liza was excited.  In three days her friend Timothy would come visit her 
in the  United States.  Suddenly, the phone rang.  Liza couldn't believe 
her ears!  Sadly, Timothy told her, "I cannot come...the consul said I 
am 214(b)." 
 
On any given day throughout the world some visa applicants find 
themselves in Timothy'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 be refused a visa 
when you are not expecting it causes great disappointment and sometimes 
embarrassment.  Here is what a 214(b) visa refusal means and what 
applicants and friends can do to prepare for a visa reapplication. 
 
WHY IS THERE A VISA REQUIREMENT? 
 
The United States is an open society.  Unlike many countries, the United 
States does not impose internal controls on most visitors, such as 
registration with local authorities.  In order to enjoy the privilege of 
unencumbered travel in the United States, aliens have a responsibility 
to prove they are going to return abroad before a visitor or student 
visa is issued.  Our immigration law requires consular officers to view 
every visa applicant as an intending immigrant until the applicant 
proves otherwise. 
 
WHAT IS SECTION 214(b)? 
 
Section 214(b) is part of the Immigration and Nationality Act ([NA).  It 
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 (if application 
for admission, that he is entitled to a nonimmigrant status...." 
 
To qualify for a visitor or student (nonimmigrant) visa under Section 
214(b), applicants have to show that they have a permanent residence and 
other ties abroad that would compel them to leave the United States at 
the end of the temporary stay.  The law places this burden of proof on 
the applicant. 
 
Our consular officers have a difficult job.  They must decide in a very 
short time if someone is qualified to receive a temporary visa.  Most 
cases are decided after a brief interview and review of whatever 
evidence of ties an applicant presents. 
 
WHAT CONSTITUTES A "PERMANENT RESIDENCE" OR "STRONG TIES"? 
 
Permanent residence and strong ties differ from country to country, city 
to city, individual to individual.  Some examples of ties can be a job, 
a house, a family, a bank account.  "Ties" are the various aspects of 
your life that bind you to your country of residence:  your possessions, 
employment, social and family relationships. 
 
As a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident, imagine your own ties in 
the United States.  Would a consular office of a foreign country 
consider that you have a permanent residence?  It is likely that the 
answer would be "yes" if you have a job, a family, if you own or rent a 
house or apartment, or if you have other commitments that would require 
you to return to the United States at the conclusion of a visit abroad.  
Each person's situation is different. 
 
Our consular officers are aware of this diversity.  During the visa 
interview they look at each application individually and consider 
professional, social, cultural and other factors.  In cases of younger 
applicants who may not have had an opportunity to form many ties, 
consular officers may look at the applicant's specific intentions, 
family situations, and long-range plans and prospects within his or her 
country of residence.  Each case is examined individually and is 
accorded every consideration under the law. 
 
IS A DENIAL UNDER SECTION 214(b) PERMANENT? 
 
No.  The consular officer will reconsider a case if an applicant can 
show further convincing evidence of ties outside the United States.  
Your friend, relative or student should contact the embassy or consulate 
to find out about reapplication procedures. 
 
HOW CAN YOU HELP? 
 
You may provide a letter of invitation or support.  However, this cannot 
guarantee visa issuance to a foreign national friend, relative or 
student.  Visa applicants must qualify under Section 214(b) according to 
their own circumstances, not on the basis of an American sponsor's 
assurances. 
  
 
WHAT CAN YOU DO IF AN ACQUAINTANCE IS REFUSED A VISA UNDER 214(b)? 
 
First encourage your relative, friend or student to review carefully 
their situation and evaluate realistically their ties.  You can suggest 
that they write down on paper what qualifying ties they think they have 
which may not have been evaluated at the time of their interview with 
the consular of officer.  Also, if they have been refused, they should 
review what documents were submitted for the consul to consider.  
Applicants refused visas under Section 214(b) may reapply for a visa.  
When they do, they will have to show further evidence of their ties or 
how their circumstances have changed since the time of the original 
application.  It may help to answer the following questions before 
reapplying:  (1) Did I explain my situation accurately?  (2) Did the 
consular officer overlook something?  (3) Is there any additional 
information I can present to establish my permanent residence and strong 
ties abroad? 
 
WHO CAN INFLUENCE THE CONSULAR OFFICER TO REVERSE A DECISION? 
 
Immigration law delegates the responsibility for issuance or refusal of 
visas to consular officers overseas.  They have the final say on all 
visa cases.  By regulation the Department has authority to review 
consular decisions, but this authority is limited to the interpretation 
of law, as contrasted to determinations of fact.  The question at issue 
in such denials, whether an applicant qualified as a nonimmigrant, is a 
factual one; therefore, it falls exclusively within the authority of 
consular officers at our Foreign Service posts to resolve.  An applicant 
can influence the office to change a prior visa denial only though the 
presentation of new convincing evidence of strong ties. 
 
You may wish to send this brochure to your relative, friend or student 
abroad.  We hope that a better understanding of Section 214(b) will 
prepare them for successful visa interviews. 
 
The phone rang.  "Liza, it's Timothy."  I went back to the Embassy for 
another interview!  I showed the consul more information about my job 
and family.  This time I got my visa!"  Liza was overjoyed.  "Great!" 
she exclaimed, "I'll see you next week!" 
 
United States Department of State 
Bureau of Consular Affairs 
 
Department of State Publication 9772 
Released June 1990 


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