Liza was excited. In three days her friend Timothy would come
visit her in the United States. Suddenly, the phone rang. Liza
couldnt 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 Timothys 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 other 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 (INA). 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 admission,
that he is entitled to a nonimmigrant status...
To qualify for a visitor or student
visa, an applicant must meet the requirements of sections 101(a)(15)(B)
or (F) of the INA respectively. Failure to do so will result
in a refusal of a visa under INA 214(b). The most frequent basis
for such a refusal concerns the requirement that the prospective
visitor or student possess a residence abroad he/she has no
intention of abandoning. Applicants prove the existence of such
residence by demonstrating that they have ties abroad that would
compel them to leave the U.S. 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
WHAT CONSTITUTES "STRONG TIES"?
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
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 residence in the United States that you do not intend to abandon?
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 applicants 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)
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. Unfortunately, some applicants
will not qualify for a nonimmigrant visa, regardless of how
many times they reapply, until their personal, professional,
and financial circumstances change considerably.
HOW CAN I 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 for the visa according to their own circumstances,
not on the basis of an American sponsor's assurance.
WHAT CAN YOU DO IF AN AQUAINTANCE
IS REFUSED A VISA UNDER 214(B) FOR LACK OF A RESIDENCE ABROAD?
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 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 residence and strong ties abroad?
Your acquaintances should also bear
in mind that they will be charged a nonrefundable application
fee each time they apply for a visa, regardless of whether a
visa is issued.
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
U.S. Department of State has authority to review consular decisions,
but this authority is limited to the interpretation of law,
as contrasted to determinations of facts. The question at issue
in such denials, whether an applicant possesses the required
residence abroad, 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 post to change
a prior visa denial only through 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
The phone rang. "Liza, its 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
U.S. Department of State
Bureau of Consular Affairs