Visa Denied Under Section 214(b) for Non-immigrant Visa
Being denied a US visa can be devastating. Millions of foreign applicants are refused a US visa for a variety of reasons and countries such as Pakistan have denial rates as high as 74%! Visa applications are serious business but what the heck is a denial under section 214(b)? Most visa applicants are not immigration lawyers and don’t care about statutes and legal verbiage!
If you have come across this post because you were denied a visa under section 214(b), I will do my best to try to explain what this means in English. Just trying to figure out what all of this means is not only time consuming, but extremely intimidating.
A visa denial under section 214(b) is related to a non-immigrant visa application. Basically, it means that the US consulate where you interviewed believes you have immigrant intent. Most non-immigrant visas are temporary and require you to eventually leave the US.
Applying for a non-immigrant visa includes any of the following visa types:
- K1 visa – fiance of US citizen (yes, this is considered non-immigrant)
- F1 visa – academic students
- B1/B2 visa – business or tourist travel
- H-1b visa – temporary skilled workers
- H-1C visa – health professionals
- H-3 visa – training program
- J-1 visa – exchange visitor
- M-1 visa – nonacademic student
- O-1A visa – extraordinary abilities
- P-1 visa – athletes and music entertainers
- T-1 visa – victims of extreme trafficking
- TN visa – professionals under NAFTA
- U-1 visa – victim of certain criminal activities
If you have applied for any of the above visas, you would need to prove to the consular officer that you stay in the U.S. will be temporary. If you can’t show that you will not illegally stay past the visa validity date, you may be denied under section 214(b).
Sample Visa Denial Letter Under Section 214(b)
Consulate General of the
United States of America
Dear Visa Applicant:
Unfortunately we are not able to issue you a visa today. You do not qualify for a non-immigrant visa under Section 214(b) of the United States Immigration and Nationality Act.
This portion of the law 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 a visa… that he is entitled to non-immigrant status…“
This means that each visa applicant must convince the Consular Office that he or she intends to return to his or her home country following a temporary stay in the United States, that his or her financial situation is such that he or she can afford the trip without having to seek unauthorized employment in the U.S., and that the travel is for legitimate purposes permitted by the applicant’s visa category.
For further information, please see the reverse side of this letter.
You do not qualify for a student visa under U.S. immigration law because you have not shown that you meet all of the criteria indicated blow:
- That you intend to return to India following the completion of your studies
(see the explanation of sufficient ties written above).
- That you have sufficient funds to cover the first year’s total expenses, plus
access to a continuing source of funds to cover all subsequent years of study.Please see the reverse side of this letter for more information on student visa
- You were unable to establish to the satisfaction of the Consular Officer that the
purpose of your trip is consistent with the rules of the visa class for which you applied.
For further information on U.S. visa regulations and application procedures, please refer to our web site.
As you can see from the sample letter above, it does describe the exact reason for denial. Sadly, USCIS won’t actually tell you what is needed to prove your intent. You’re stuck trying to figure out what document was missing or how much evidence you should have included.
Proving You Won’t Overstay Your Visa
To successfully apply for a non-immigrant visa, you will need to show that you will abide by the rules for that specific visa type. For example: if you applied for a student visa you will need to show that you will attend a U.S. college and have enough cash saved up to support yourself.
This shows the consular officer that you have no intention to work illegally in the U.S. while on an F1 student visa.
Here is where things get complicated. Often times the consular officer makes their decision based on their gut feeling and not on the supporting documents you provide. This is why the visa interview is so important and you truly need to prepare for it.
If you get nervous at interviews and babble on and on, stop it! Talking too much can make you look as id you’re hiding something. I know this sounds ridiculous but from the consular officer’s point of view, they look at your demeanor more than anything else.
What will the consular officer look at to make a decision?
- Your current situation in your home country
- Your employment status
- Your family relationships
- Previous visa application
- Previous visits to the US
They will look at your entire case and why you are applying for a non-immigrant visa. If they determine that you are a high risk for overstaying in the U.S. they will deny the visa.
However, if you show that your stay in the U.S. is temporary and you intend to go back to your home country to pursue further education, employment or start a family, your approval chances are much better.
Top Reasons For Denial Under Section 214(b)
The following reasons for denial and a 214(b) finding by the consular officer should help you understand some of the red flags that can come up in your case.
Limited ties to home country:
- being young, unemployed or have a low- paying or new job;
- have no children; are not married; live in rural areas;
- own no property or assets.
- how you conduct yourself;
- your honesty in answering questions;
- how you’re dressed;
- your reactions; facial expressions; eye contact;
- hesitation in answering questions;
- discrepancies in answers to questions;
All these factors go into weighing the applicant’s intentions, credibility, and eligibility for a visa.
Inaccurate consular judgement:
- Consular mistakes in the review of visa application;
- officer has limited time and resources;
- often deficient in the local language;
- and are inadequately trained.
You fit the “overstay profile”:
- matching a profile that validation studies have shown tend to overstay visas;
For example, during the 1990s, some Russians would buy timeshares in the US and use that as a pretext to visit the US. When many of these applicants didn’t return to Russia, the Embassy got tough on such applicants, with both legitimate and not-so-legitimate timeshare owners paying the price with a 214(b) denial.
- Numerous, long-term visits to the US/extending status while in the US.
- Consular officer may believe that:
- you no longer reside in your home country;
- may be engaging in unauthorized employment in the US;
- and/or not in the appropriate visa status.
By staying for a longed periods of time and telling them it will be a short planned visit in the subsequent application, the problem becomes one of credibility more than the above-mentioned factors.
Change of status in the US:
Returning to your home country to receive a new visa after changing status often results in denial. The consular officer may feel lied to and that the your true intent at the time of the first application was to change status.
For example, you stated that you planned to visit the US for tourism purposes and then upon arrival, changed your status to H-1B (work visa).
- enrollment in a community college or a “non-brand name” university;
- lack of adult-like economic ties to their home country;
- enrollment in perceived non-career enhancement courses (e.g., a writer who enrolls in a business management program);
- enrollment in a program with little practicality in the home country;
- applications of older students (over the age of 30);
- perceived poor track record while in the States (e.g., poor grades or poor attendance on an initial F-1 visa);
- inadequate progress in the English language while located in the US for a summer work-travel program).
Submission of a DV Lottery entry:
While most consular officers don’t worry about whether you have submitted an entry for the green card Lottery, there are some that do.
For example, the US Embassy in Ukraine states:
“Although participation in the DV lottery does not disqualify one for a tourist or any other visa, it does indicate a desire to immigrate to the US, which is a factor in evaluating one’s ties to Ukraine.”
Of course, if you are indeed selected as a “winner” of the DV Lottery and you submit an non-immigrant visa application, then you will be considered to have shown immigrant intent and will not be approved for the visa.
Applicant suspected of fraud:
Consular officer may suspect that a document (employment reference, bank statement) you have submitted is fraudulent, but they may not have the time or resources to investigate further.
It’s easier for them to just deny the application under 214(b) than to pursue a 212(a)(6)(c) instead.
Previous visa denial:
Consular officers often defer to a previous denial, stating a lack of change in circumstances. This may happen even when you’re re-applying within days of the original approval and including new evidence.
“What has changed since your last application?” is a common question asked by consular officers.
Don’t think that if you change the purpose of your trip, that it will increase your chances of approval. By doing this, you are basically digging your own “grave” with your visa application shovel deeper, showing desperation, which will impact your case negatively.
Not enough money to support yourself:
If the purpose of the trip is education at a college, then you should have the financial assets to pay the bills during your the entire program. If you open a bank account right before submitting the visa application and deposit funds in the account days before, you will definitely arouse suspicion that the funds are not yours.
At the same time, an affidavit of support from a non-relative submitted as a part of a student visa application can result in a 214(b) finding because the officer may question the intention of the sponsor.
Final Thoughts on 214(b) Visa Denial
Ultimately, it is your responsibility to prove to the consular officer that you only intend to stay for the duration of the visa. Although the supporting documents you provide are important, what you do at the interview can make or break your application.
Consular officers are people. They are not a computer that only looks at the facts. Show them that you are honest and will abide by the rules of the visa you’re applying for. If you were previously approved for a visa and left the US before it expired, this can work in your favor.
If you have indeed been denied under section 214(b), you should review your case closely and work on the areas that are weak. Then try applying again once your have stronger ties to your own country.