Visas are an important way to enter the United States and to stay in the country for an extended period of time. If you live in a country other than the US, you will need a visa to work in the country, receive medical care, or stay for an extended time with relatives. Unfortunately, there are many reasons why the US consulate in your country may deny you a visa. It is a paperwork intensive process, and the deposit is non-refundable. If you are denied, here are some of the reasons why you had that denial and what you can possibly do about it.
Lack of Documentation (INA section 221(g))
The number one problem with visa denials is a lack of proper documentation. As you may imagine, it takes a great deal of paperwork to prove who you are, why you want to come to the US, and what you intend to do once you are there. Fortunately, when you are denied due to this reason, you are given the list of documents that still have to be submitted. In addition, the visa is considered incomplete and submitting the correct documents should put the visa through without reapplication.
Immigrant Intent (INA section 214(b))
Immigrant intent is a tricky concept to completely understand. If you are entering the country and don’t have a strong tie to your homeland, you may be denied admittance. For instance, family, property, and a job in your home country would be strong ties that mean you will return home once your business is done in the US. Not having a clear intention of returning can lead to a denial because the immigration services do not want to issue a visa to someone who may break the rules when it expires.
Public Charge (INA section 212(a)(4))
Public charge is the term given to your ability to support yourself while you are in the US on your visa. The government doesn’t want you to enter the country and have to go on public support to live. You can prove that you have enough money by submitting copies of your bank accounts. However, you can also prove that you will have a paying job that will cover your expenses while you are in the country. You don’t have to be rich to be approved under the public charge provision, but you do have to demonstrate some monetary solvency.
Fraud (INA section 212(a)(6)(C)(i))
To get into the United States, some applicants resort to fraud. Fraud means that you lie about anything in your application or that you submit false documents. When the fraud is discovered, your visa is immediately rejected under this INA section. You may even be prohibited from applying for a visa for a number of years if fraud is detected. In some cases, you may be able to apply for a waiver after your fraud is discovered. It would depend on the nature of the fraud and what your intentions were. If you are denied because of fraud, you should ask if there would be a waiver available.
Unlawful Presence in United States (INA section 212(a)(9)(B)(i))
Unlawful presence means that you stayed longer than your visa was issued for. In addition, it can also cause denial when you are in the country illegally without a visa or any other form of papers. Unfortunately, with this denial, you have different lengths of time you must wait before you can apply again. For 180 days to one year in the country illegally, you will not be able to apply for a visa for three years after the day you leave the country. If you are in the country for one year or longer, you will be denied a visa for 10 years after you exit the US. There are waivers for this situation, however. Since March 2013, immediate relatives of U.S. citizens can apply for provisional waivers before they leave the United States. The provisional unlawful waiver process was created to shorten the time that U.S. citizens are separated from immediate family members. Relatives who do not want to file for the provisional waiver can still file a Form I-601 – Application for Waiver of Grounds of Admissibility.
Conviction of Certain Crimes
If you have committed a crime, you may be denied a visa. Conviction of a felony or conspiracy to commit one can get you denied if you are found guilty. However, this does not include purely political violations. If you have broken laws that relate to substance trafficking, you can be denied eligibility, as well. Essentially, this clause of the visa laws refers mostly to those who have been convicted of transporting drugs. Another common crime that is a red flag is human trafficking. Any suspected or charged crimes in these areas will result in immediate denial. Other crimes the INA lists as inadmissible include:
- Conviction for two or more crimes totaling in at least 2 years of prison time
- Intent on engaging in prostitution upon entering the U.S., procuring/importing prostitutes, or having a history with prostitution in the past 10 years
- Use of immunity from prosecution after committing a serious criminal offense previously in the U.S. and departing afterward
- History or intention of committing money laundering. Aiding, abetting, or colluding can also be means for inadmissibility.
Again, the laws regarding labor certification are complex. Immigrants who want to perform skilled or unskilled labor are generally not allowed admission into the country. A few exceptions exist: there are not enough US workers to meet the needs of that industry and that the admission would not adversely affect the industry for American workers. Certain rules are also in place for doctors and other healthcare workers who have been trained in a foreign country. Some schools are not eligible to produce these workers, and those who have graduated from a non-accredited school are generally not given visa status.
Lynda Lampert is an affiliate of Burke & Jaskot, an immigration law firm in Baltimore, MD.