Millions of people flock each year to US Consulates and Embassies around the world applying for a US Visa and after all the hard work in preparing the documents; having a USA Visa application refused can be a confusing, frustrating, and upsetting experience. It always feels personal, and judgmental — as well as unfair. Travel plans are spoiled and the hopes of being reunited with distant friends and relatives are in serious jeopardy. The truth is that a US Visa refusal is a regular occurrence, and the US Immigration Officials have no problem handing them out.
We are often asked how to “guarantee” that a USA visa will be approved. The simple answer is: you can’t get a 100% guarantee, because the US Consular Officers are final decision makers. The US Embassies and Consulates ultimately decide whether to grant you a US nonimmigrant visa (e.g. B-1/B-2 visitor, F-1 student, H-1B temporary worker) or an immigrant visa (e.g. family-based or employment-based) for admission to the United States. Proving you qualify for a visa is rarely easy. What you can do, however, is to make sure your application is as strong and truthful as it can be.
Procuring a US visa can be a long and arduous journey, so it is worth spending some time beforehand to know about the various Documents and Requirements and to consider the pitfalls which trip up many applicants and result in refusal at the end of the line.
To help you in this, we have compiled a list of the most common reasons the US Consular Officers give a US visa refusal so that you can be more informed about how to avoid it yourself.
- The intention of residing in the USA on a permanent basis:
If the US Consular officer/s gets the slightest hint that the applicant does not have any plans to return to his/her home country, it becomes a very strong reason for the visa officer to reject applicant’s visa. You must be prepared to prove your strong attachments to India in the way of strong family ties, businesses, immovable property or an ongoing career. The officer wants an assurance that there is something strong that binds you to your home country and that you are travelling abroad for a temporary purpose only and will be returning as soon as your trip is completed.
- Insufficient financial resources:
You should be able to prove it to the officer that you have sufficient financial resources to cover your expenses for the intended period of stay in the US. If the financial documents fail to convince them of your financial eligibility, this again becomes a reason for your visa rejection. Financial resources include bank statements with adequate balance, Income tax returns, salary slips, property documents and any other investment documents.
- Incomplete or missing documents:
It is really important that you provide all the documents required for your US visa application. Different visa types require different documentary evidence, so it is important to make sure your application is specific to you, and that nothing is missed out. All documents must be originals – and include a photocopy for good measure as well. Failure to supply all the necessary documentation will lead to your application being rejected.
- Following advice from Family and/or Friends:
So many refusals happen because people seek advice from those closest to them, who just don’t have the appropriate visa knowledge. These people tend to share their visa experiences which may or may not have been pleasant and pass judgment based on these. They will also share their success and failure stories. But you must keep in mind that the result of your application will entirely depend on you and on the assessment of the visa officer.
- False or fraudulent information:
The worst thing to do in a visa interview is lying to the visa officer and feed him/her with false information. This may not only lead to the rejection of your US visa but can also lead to permanent denial of entry to the US i.e. permanent visa denial.
- The applicant has a criminal history:
If an applicant has criminal records with serious crimes, violation of immigration rules and incidents of drug use or has multiple convictions with jail time; this may turn out to be strong grounds for your visa rejection.
- Non-Disclosure of Previous issues:
Often applicants have had previous immigration or legal issues that they decide not to disclose, such as bans, or certain criminal convictions already spent — especially if a long time has passed. But the Interviewers miss nothing and question everything. Worse still, if they believe an applicant has attempted to mislead or misrepresent themselves intentionally (deception) a US visa refusal might be the least of your worries.
- Waiting until the last minute to submit your application
Visa applications take time, particularly as the festive and holiday seasons approach. There are hundreds of applicants each day, and your file is just a number in a queue. Waiting till the very last-minute leaves no room for error so if you’re declined because of missing paperwork, for example, you won’t have the time to rectify the situation or reapply.
- Lying about – well basically anything
Thinking about telling a little white lie about the type of business you’re embarking on, or perhaps considering applying for a tourist visa instead of going through the hassles of applying for the business visa you actually need? We would strongly advise you to reconsider. All information provided to the US Embassy or Consulate must be complete and truthful. Even the smallest lie on your application could not only see your visa application denied, but you could also be banned from travelling to the destination forever as this reason can also make you stand out from the US Visa Eligibility Criteria
- Having an out-of-date passport with no blank pages
Who cares if your passport is set to expire in five months and 29 days before you’re meant to travel? Chances are the country for which you are applying for a visa will reject your application right away. Your passport needs to be valid for at least 6 months and has at least two open pages, or your visa application will be denied.
- Relying on advice from the US Embassy or Consulate itself:
It might seem like the best place to get advice is from the source itself. However, call support at the US Embassy or Consulate are not trained or qualified enough to give appropriate advice, and at best all they will do is redirect you to their website, or give you the same general information. They will not be able to discuss the merits of individual cases which might need specific expertise to carefully complete the application.
- Saving money on cheap advice:
Using unqualified travel agency is a false economy as their lack of expertise in US immigration and visa rules can easily lead to a refusal on the basis that they simply don’t know the intricate details of the visa rules, or how to apply for the US visa correctly. A substantial number of people who come to us with a refusal tell us “my travel agent said…” Unfortunately, not all travel agents are regulated, and even some who are regulated — even the good ones — simply don’t have the right knowledge of how to apply for a US visa, in the same way, a trained, experienced and knowledgeable travel agent will.
Of course, there are many other reasons for a US visa refusal, and it is always worth remembering that each case is unique. The US has some of the most stringent immigration laws in the world, and with the frequent changes in the visa laws, no-one really knows what effect that might have on other parts of immigration policy. By the time you’ve finished reading this article, you can be sure that the US embassy somewhere has somehow changed an application requirement or added another visa rule.
Concluding thoughts? All in all, planning a trip abroad is a big deal. So, you need to treat your visa application like it’s a big deal. Make sure you tick off every requirement and attach every document.
So keep these tips in mind and make sure you do not make mistakes. Be truthful and genuine. Good luck!