Why Was My US Visa Application Denied?

The United States has a very detailed and specific visa policy, and applications are approved or denied based on these criteria.

Each application is carefully reviewed and most applicants are usually interviewed by a consular officer.

This process is very demanding and can be frustrating and discouraging for many people. Applicants can be left disappointed and confused about what to do next, especially if their visa is denied.

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However, the United States has very well-defined visa laws that detail each visa type, its requirements, and the process for applying for a U.S. visa. There is also a specific section in the Immigration and Nationality Act that explains why your application may be denied.

Common Reasons for US Visa Denials – Ineligibilities

Under Section 104(a) of the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act, a consular officer at a U.S. embassy or consulate has sole authority to approve or deny a visa application. Generally, when a visa is denied, U.S. embassies and consulates around the world notify the applicant of the legal provision under which the application was denied.

In many cases, the applicant is advised by the consular officer to apply for a visa waiver if it applies to his or her case.

There are two types of unfitness (grounds for denial of a visa): temporary and permanent. Persons with temporary unfitness may reapply for a visa if they overcome the unfitness. Permanent ineligibles, on the other hand, can reapply only if the Department of Homeland Security allows them to waive their ineligibility.

The primary reasons for denial of a visa application are as follows.

  • Incomplete application or supporting documentation
  • Visa eligibility and immigration intent
  • Taxes and fees
  • Fraud and misrepresentation
  • Illegal residence in the U.S.

Incomplete Application or Supporting Documentation

A visa denial under INA section 221(g) means that the applicant did not submit a complete application with all required information to the consular officer or that supporting documentation was missing. However, this does not mean that your application has been completely denied.

Once you have been notified that your application is incomplete, you will receive a letter telling you the exact reason why you were determined ineligible and what documentation or information is missing. If there are any deficiencies, your application will be rejected and you will have to pay a new visa fee and start over.

At this stage, the embassy or consulate may decide whether to continue processing your application. This means that further security checks and investigations will be carried out, often by a separate agency. Most paperwork is completed within 60 days of the visa interview. However, if the case is referred to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) or another agency, it may take several months.

Visa Qualifications and Immigrant Intent

Under this section of the Visa Act, only applicants in the nonimmigrant visa category may be denied; denial of a visa application under INA section 214(b) means that the applicant failed to convince the consular officer of his or her eligibility for the nonimmigrant visa sought and that the applicant has strong ties to his or her home country and does not intend to immigrate to the United States. means that the applicant does not intend to immigrate to the United States.

With respect to strong ties, you can prove that you do not intend to remain in the United States if you

  • You have a job
  • You are married, engaged, or in a relationship
  • Have property in your home country (house, land, etc.)
  • Have children (for whom the applicant is the legal guardian).
  • Has a good relationship with family and friends

The applicant cannot challenge this ineligibility. However, this ineligibility is not permanent, and the applicant may reapply if he or she believes his or her circumstances have changed significantly. To reapply, the visa fee must be paid again and a new interview date must be scheduled.

Public Charge

Denial of your visa application under section 212(a)(4) of the INA means that the consular officer has determined that you are likely to be dependent on the U.S. government for your subsistence and financial support if you enter the United States.

This status is not permanent and may be overcome under certain circumstances.

Persons who apply for an Immigrant Visa

Immigrant visa applicants who have been denied entry into the United States under section 212(a)(4) of the INA may reapply for a visa by submitting an Affidavit of Support from an eligible sponsor.

The Affidavit of Support must be accompanied by a bank statement or pay stub from the sponsor showing that the sponsor is able to support you financially.

Some visa types do not require an affidavit, so you must prove that you are not a financial burden to the U.S. government by providing

  • Personal funds (you must prove you have sufficient funds with bank statements, pay stubs, etc.)
  • Job offer in the U.S.

However, submitting the above documents does not guarantee that you will receive a visa. This is because the consular officer will determine if the evidence of financial support you submit is sufficient to overcome your ineligibility.

Persons who apply for a non-Immigrant Visa

On the other hand, nonimmigrant visa applicants who have been denied entry into the United States under INA section 212(a)(4) must demonstrate that they are able to raise funds while in the United States. The consular officer will reexamine the documents to determine if sufficient funds exist to overcome the inadmissibility.

Fraud and Misrepresentation

If you attempt to obtain a visa by misrepresenting the facts or committing fraud, your visa application will be denied under INA section 212(a)(6)(C)(i). If you attempt to hide the fact that you have relatives in the U.S. or have been convicted of a crime in the past, this is considered fraud. This is a permanent inadmissibility and no matter how many times you apply, you will not be granted a visa.

If there is a possibility that you can apply for a Waiver of Status, the consular officer will advise you to do so.

Unlawful Presence in the United States

If you are denied entry into the United States under section 212(a)(9)(B)(i) of the INA, the reason you were denied a visa is that you are considered to be unlawfully present in the United States.

You fall into one of the following categories:

  • Have been in the United States after your authorized period of stay had expired and did not extend your stay; or
  • You entered and remained in the United States without obtaining the required authorization from Customs and Border Protection.

If you have been in the U.S. illegally for more than 180 days but less than one year, you are not eligible for a visa until three years after you leave the country. On the other hand, if you have been in the U.S. illegally for more than one year, you are not eligible for a visa until 10 years after you leave the country.

Other ineligibilities

In addition to the reasons listed above, you may also be ineligible for a U.S. visa for the following reasons.

Health-related grounds

You are not eligible to apply for a visa to the United States if you have any of the following health conditions:

  • An applicant who has been diagnosed with a communicable disease of public health significance.
  • An applicant who has a physical or mental disability and whose behavior related to the disability is likely to endanger the property, safety, or welfare of self or others and whose behavior is likely to be repeated or result in other harmful behavior.
  • An applicant who has been determined to be substance abusing or dependent.

Criminal and related grounds

Any alien who has been convicted of a felony, murder, drug trafficking, human trafficking, genocide, or money laundering in the past is considered ineligible to enter the United States.

Security and related grounds

Foreign nationals who are determined by a consular officer or the Attorney General to pose a security risk to the United States will be denied entry. If authorities suspect that the applicant seeks to enter the United States to engage in illegal activities, such as violations of the law, attempts to control or overthrow the government, or terrorist activities.


Those who fall into the following categories are also ineligible to enter.

  • Foreign nationals who come to the U.S. to engage in polygamy.
  • A caregiver accompanying a person who is ineligible.
  • An alien assisting a person who has been abducted.
  • Also eligible are former citizens who have renounced their citizenship to avoid taxation.

Ineligibility Waivers

The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) allows an applicant who has been denied a visa in certain categories to apply for a waiver of that category. If approved, the applicant may be eligible for a U.S. visa. However, the Department of Homeland Security has discretion as to whether to approve a waiver for each visa applicant.

At the time a visa is denied, each applicant will be notified of their ineligibility and whether or not to apply for a waiver. The consular officer will also explain how to apply for an exemption. Generally, the following conditions must be met in order for an application for an exemption to be approved

  • You are eligible for the exemption.
  • You have a tax-exempt status and no other status.
  • Applicants for nonimmigrant visas must obtain a waiver recommendation to DHS from a consular officer.
  • Immigrant visa applicants should verify that the waiver applies specifically to their situation.

Reapplying for a U.S Visa in Case of a Rejection

If the ineligibility determined in your initial application is determined to be temporary, you may reapply for a visa if you believe your circumstances have changed. The consular officer will determine whether or not you are eligible for a visa.

If your ineligibility is determined to be permanent, you still have a chance to obtain a visa if the consular officer determines that your application is in order in all other respects and advises you to apply for a visa waiver.

Visa Fee Refunding

If a foreign national’s application for a visa to enter the United States is denied, the application fee paid by the applicant will not be refunded. If the application is re-filed, the application fee must also be refunded.

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