Immigration & Green Card Law Firm, Lawyers, Attorneys: San Franscisco Bay Area to San Jose: What To Do When Your Visa Application Is Denied

Friday, August 10, 2007

What To Do When Your Visa Application Is Denied

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People who are applying for non-immigrant (temporary) visas such as a visitor's visa (B1 or B2) or student visa (F1), as well as those applying for permanent immigration, can be found ineligible for a visa based on a variety grounds. For example, the U.S. Consulate may not issue a temporary visa to a single person who does not have a good job or other strong ties to his or her home country on the basis of the notorious section'214(b)'. In other words, the U.S. official reviewing one's application believes that you have not met your legal burden of showing him/her that you will indeed return home after the temporary visit to the United States.

In a case of a s.214(b) refusal, one can simply make a new application with new or better information and supporting documentation showing the likelihood and certainty that the visit is truly temporary. Unfortunately, the dice are cast against 'proving' a negative. A more ominous situation, however, arises when a visa refusal is based on other grounds of excludability such as prior misconduct or other misrepresentation made to the U.S. Consulate and/or Immigration Inspectors at a port of entry. These situations require the filing of a more formal waiver application.

Although the BCIS and Consular Officers have broad discretionary power to grant waivers for people previously found inadmissible, these waivers are not easily obtained, especially when the grounds for excludability are based on prior criminal convictions (including even minor drug offenses), prostitution, public charge concerns, previous deportation and exclusion, material misrepresentation or fraud, and alien smuggling, to mention just a few. One may be surprised to learn from the above list of grounds of ineligibility, that the U.S. government takes what may seem to be even minor misconduct very seriously. Abusing the U.S. system such as attending the public schools, receiving or attempting to receive public benefits, lying to border inspectors about one's intention in the U.S., attempting to change one's visa status too soon after an entry, slight overstaying, and bringing one's children into the U.S. so that they can later change status (which can be interpreted now as 'alien smuggling'), I have found is often done without a serious thought about later consequences.

If your visa application has been denied based on a prior misconduct other than s.214(b), you must first present your request for a waiver in person to a U.S. Consular Officer. The Consular Officer then decides whether to recommend the waiver issuance to BCIS, and BCIS ultimately makes the decision to either approve or deny the waiver. The Consul cannot issue a visa unless the BCIS acts favorably on the waiver request. The processing of waiver applications is not a 'high priority' with the BCIS and may take more than several months.

Please note that when considering a waiver application, the BCIS will consider three factors: the risk of harm to society if the applicant is admitted; the seriousness of the applicant's prior violations or convictions, if any; and the reason for wishing to enter the United States. In addition, the BCIS will look at the passage of time since the ground of inadmissibility occurred. This is called the period of rehabilitation, and the more time that has passed since the incident took place, the more likely BCIS will make a favorable determination.

We are frequently asked what the minimum time is that one should wait before applying for a waiver. There is no definite guideline. A three-year rule of thumb is frequently raised, but each case must be comprehensively reviewed.

Once again, a s.214(b) refusal should not be confused with a Denial, above; it is simply a determination by a Consular Official, based upon facts and documents presented (at a specific point in time), that the officer does not believe the applicant has met one's burden to show that he/she will return home after a temporary visit to the U.S.; it also is an indication the applicant did not meet his/her burden of showing sufficient and strong 'ties' to his/her home country. The applicant may reapply at anytime.

In summary, the best policy is, of course, knowing the law, and burdens to overcome, before applying for a visa, and avoiding any misconduct (in prior trips or visits to the U.S. Consulate or on entry to the U.S.). Ignorance of law is not a defense. One must realize that as a temporary visitor to another country, it is wise to live by the legal boundaries imposed and be careful not to violate the rules. However, if one has already found themselves ineligible for a visa, and for a variety of reasons wishes to reapply, either as a non-immigrant (visitor or student, or in another category), or as an immigrant, professional and qualified legal help must be sought to review one's situation and, if applicable, make a waiver application.

Remember, you can always email us at, or call us toll free at (800) 863-4448. We offer consultation free of charge!

Paul M. Heller, Esq. (Founder/Principal)

Heller Immigration Law Group, LLP
2479 E. Bayshore Rd., Suite 709
Palo Alto, CA 94303

A Silicon Valley-based law firm specializing in employment-based immigration, for corporations seeking fixed monthly retainer fee arrangements.

Toll-Free: 1/800 863-4448; Local: 1/650 424-1900; Int'l: 1/650 424-1900; Fax: 1/415 276-9099

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RD said...

I just called and spoke to an attorney at your firm regarding a denial of a visa to my grandmother in Mexico. I really appreciate the consultation and advice you graciously gave me. After speaking with an attorney at your firm I have a much better idea of what the next step can be to help my grandmother get a tourist visa for my wedding next year. Thank you so very much. - Rennee

Marsha said...

Great work.