CR1 Visa Denial: Couple Denied Visa After Waiting 2 Years

Although I tend to be optimistic when it comes to visa petitions, there are some cases that are heartbreaking. I receive a lot of emails asking about the process and advice on what type of evidence to submit, and I give the best advice I can. Today, I want to tell you about a couple that has gone through so much pain, stress and turmoil to be together together. These types of stories are very common from Pakistan and other developing countries, and it almost seems like discrimination. I hope that you can learn from their setbacks and never give up hope if you have been denied a visa.

Imagine this story:

  • U.S. citizen files all of the required documents for her foreign spouse to permanently immigrate to the United States.
  • USCIS approves the visa two years later. Several weeks after approval, a consular officer then denies her spouse’s visa.
  • The embassy and the consular officer refuse to provide a valid reason for the denial.
  • Without knowing the reason for denial, the U.S. citizen and her spouse will not have an opportunity to contest the consular officer’s decision, and they also will not have an opportunity to seek administrative review.
  • Because of the consular officer’s visa denial, the U.S. citizen and her spouse will continue to remain separated.

Visa Denied By Consular Officer After Initial Approval

This is Jane’s (not her real name) story.

In 2008, Jane, a U.S. citizen, married John (not his real name), a citizen and resident of Afghanistan. After their marriage, she submitted an I-130 visa petition to USCIS, so that John could permanently immigrate to the United States. A year and a half after filing the visa petition, USCIS informed Jane that they have approved her visa petition for John.

USCIS forwarded the approved visa petition to the National Visa Center (NVC) for processing and then on to the U.S. Department of State’s consular post in Pakistan, where a consular officer interviewed John to issue his visa after approval.

Two years after Jane first submitted John’s visa petition to USCIS, the consular officer asked John during the CR1 visa interview about his work for the Afghan government during the time when the Taliban controlled the country. The consular officer told John that he would receive the visa in two to six weeks. However, nine months later, the Embassy sent a letter to John that it denied his visa based on section 212(a) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) and that there were no waivers available to overturn his ineligibility for the CR1 visa.

Unsure of the real reason for the denial, Jane and John requested more information from the Embassy. The Embassy told them that the consular officer denied John’s visa under section 212(a)(3)(B), which bars admission into the U.S. for terrorist- related activities. Jane and John didn’t received any more details for the denial because the “terrorist-related” denial doesn’t require USCIS to provide more details. After more requests to the Embassy and to the Office of Visa Services at the State Department, Jane and John received the same response: the U.S. government would not provide additional information.

Department Of State Makes The Final Decision

Each year, the Department of State (DOS), denies millions of visas. The visas denied range from tourist or business visas to family-based immigrant visas, such as John’s spouse visa. After a long arduous process dealing with many U.S. government agencies, U.S. consular officers overseas provide the final stamp of approval or denial. For American petitioners and visa beneficiaries, Jane and John’s scenario is all too common: a U.S. consular officer denies a visa without any valid reason, and the U.S. citizen loses an opportunity to start a life with their loved one.

It can seem unfair and downright discriminatory for one consular officer to hold such power to determine your life. But, unfortunately they do. Once a visa denial is given at the embassy there is very little recourse for the U.S. citizen and their foreign spouse.

If you are still refused the visa because they found you ineligible:

  • Consulate will send your petition back to USCIS for reconsideration along with their comments
  • All original documents will be returned to you, except for 797 which is sent to USCIS
  • Once USCIS receives the petition, they will send a notice of receipt to the petitioner
  • USCIS will review the petition (this could take 2-3 months) and either issue NOIR (Notice of Intent to Revoke) or NOID (Notice of Intent to Deny).
  • The petitioner will be given a window of time to respond (30-60 days, actual days given is mentioned in the NOIR/NOID).
  • Based on petitioner’s response, USCIS will finally reinstate the petition or deny it
  • If it’s reinstated, then USCIS will send the document to the consulate, which in turn will get in touch with you to appear at the consulate for an interview.

Reapply For Visa or Appeal Decision?

There are some cases which eventually do get approved after denial. You have two options after a visa denial: appeal or reapply. Depending on the reason for the visa denial, it is usually quicker to reapply for the same visa and provide a lot more evidence to overcome the denial reason. Appealing a visa denial can take a long time, and unless you know that the consular officer made a mistake, it doesn’t make much sense to fight them.

If you decide to appeal the denial decision:

You must send in your notice of appeal within 30 days to the Administrative Appeals Office (AAO) or the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA).

Once an appeal is filed, the consular officer who made the original decision will first review the record. A review of the record will determine whether the evidence or argument you submitted in the appeal has enough merit to reopen or reconsider the decision. If the adjudicating officer finds that reconsidering the decision is not warranted, the officer will forward the case for further review to the AAO or the BIA.

The decision made by the AAO or the BIA is final. There is now further appeals and you will need to reapply for the visa if they find the original denial valid.

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